October 24th, 2013

Eye of the Dragon

My tweets

hoard potato, tv, movies

The Hoard Potato: Don't Hate Me Because I'm Mutie-ful

This morning, leonard_arlotte said:

So I've seen commercials for Tomorrow People, but ain't watched it. I am left with a nagging question.

What's the difference between this show and Alphas?

I did see the commercial and think, "Oh look, another show about pretty people with super powers" ...



That's a pretty glib dismissal ... but it's not wrong.

I watched the first episode, and really, the big difference between the two shows is that I didn't want to immediately smack everybody in Alphas, protagonist and antagonist alike.

The big conflict in this show is "OH NOES NORMALS HATE US BECAUSE WE'RE BEAUTIFUL WE HAVE POWERS!!1!"

... just like every other Pretty People With Powers series in the last decade. Heroes, the 4400, Alphas ... even the X-Movies. Show after show after show, and it's all Maintaining the Masquerade so the Mundanes don't Molest the Metahumans. The protagonists only deal with two kinds of adversaries: Dark Conspiracies Who Want To Herd Them All Into Labs and/or "Cure" Them, and Bad People With Powers That Have The Exact Same Origin As Ours.

Assuming you can tell the protagonists from the antagonists, of course.

Moreover ... every single one of these shows characterizes the Pretty People With Powers as "The Next Evolutionary Step" that will "Drive Humanity To Extinction". It's not always just the paranoid norms who think so, either.*

I, for one, am bored with this. It's ... metahuman masturbation, is what it is. All the conflict centers around The Powers, and if you take The Powers away (as several interchangeable adversaries want to do), all the conflict vanishes.

It's like they think viewers aren't smart enough to handle a world that has more than one crazy thing going on at a time.

The sad part is that The Tomorrow People is a remake of a classic BBC series from the 1970s, the era that gave us Blake's 7, and Pertwee and Baker as Doctor Who.**

By contrast, take a look at what they threw at the original 1970s version of Tomorrow People. Aliens! Robots! Alien Robots!

Think the new series is going to touch that subplot where the Tomorrow People are in touch with the "Galactic Federation", who shepherd developing telepathic races as they "break out"?

I don't.

And that's a pity.


* To give Alphas its due, Professor X Dr. Rosen at least paid lip service to the idea that the Alphas were just exceptional humans at the skinny end of the bell curve ... but he was about the only person in the show who did, and even he didn't seem to buy it completely.
** Don't get pedantic with me. That's how they're listed in the credits.
Sci Fi

The Threepenny Space Opera: Q-Space

All right. The last two entries have had far too high a quotient of Your Obedient Serpent Griping About Stuff He Doesn't Like, and I am trying to avoid that.

Let's start kicking around constructive ideas, shall we?

"Q-Space" is an old idea I had for RPG-friendly FTL. I originally came up with it ages ago, when I was playing CHAMPIONS, and applied the Hero System conceit of different "Combat" and "Non-Combat" speeds to FTL Flight, the only movement power that didn't have it. When I realized the sociopolitical ramifications of Slow-Then-Fast FTL, I kept the idea on file, and actually used it in a GURPS SPACE game -- that game ran about twenty years back, so this idea's been kicking around for a long time.


The basic idea is that there are different regimes where The Rules Are Different:
  • C-Space is the regime where the speed of light is "c": i.e., "normal spacetime".

  • K-Space is "Slow FTL": about a light-year per month, for extended travel.

    • Everything is conveniently scaled for swooping sci-fi FTL battles, and looks like Jack Kirby drew it.

    • Masses (ships and planets) appear proportionally larger

    • Distances appear smaller

  • Q-Space is "Fast FTL": multiple light-years per DAYS, maybe.


K-Space is discovered first, and is Good Enough To Scout and Colonize. Ships are sent out with colonists in cold sleep and crews awake and active, since K-Space is full of Space Wedgies. With months or years of travel time between inhabited worlds, colonial cultures develop in relative isolation, and a "spacer culture" develops unto itself.

After a few centuries, reliable access to Q-Space is developed -- and suddenly, these isolated cultures are all in each other's backyards.

They do not all get along.

To complicate matters, access to Q-Space finally increases Humanity's sphere of influence enough that we finally brush up against Galactic Culture -- and as far as we can tell, the Galactics don't care about our internal affairs; they consider the species the significant level of organization.

I love this idea, honestly. It's a simple, straightforward way to get a lot of radically diverse human cultures interacting closely.