So recently I’ve been playing through the Mass Effect series by BioWare and EA. More for BioWare’s excellent story-telling than EA’s management. Don’t get me started on EA. Where was I? Oh yes, Mass Effect. So I have a particular fondness for space, space travel, science fiction, etc. Which, as should come as no surprise, means I thoroughly enjoy the Mass Effect series of games. Blending Military Science Fiction with Alien relations, Space Exploration, and a sentient machine race bent on eradicating organics in the known universe, what’s not to love about Mass Effect?
For those of you that do not know the game, Mass Effect takes place in the 22nd century. Humanity has discovered ruins on Mars that point to an ancient civilization and then to Mass Relays, which are essentially giant way stations that alter the mass of a ship to enact faster than light travel. Anywho, humanity learns they are not alone in the universe and subsequently learns that there is a race of sentient machines trying to wipe out all the advanced races. Enter Commander Shepard, a human military/space navy man/woman (you can play as either gender) who has a penchant for getting the impossible done.
So, that’s Mass Effect in a nutshell, the game is more than that as it includes alien diplomacy, exploration, resource gathering, yada yada yada. The point I want to make though is that even though the series was three games that were all released more than 5 years ago, it is still a series that draws me back in to play again and again. What I’ve learned from playing the Mass Effect games over the past couple of weeks is that there is not enough space in my life. By space, I – of course – mean science fiction space travel.
I have been reading science fiction, writing it, building a role-playing table-top game around science fiction, but I still want more. I think back to my childhood. There were time travel shows, space adventure shows, Star Trek, Thundercats, Voltron, Quantum Leap, and the list goes on. What happened to our fascination with science fiction? Did too much of it become science fact? Did we just lose touch with our imaginations? I turn on the television and I see about 100 different crime dramas, or situational dramas like Scorpion (which is not bad, but it’s not scifi).
Sure I can get a bit of the science fiction from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Flash, but those are more comic book fantasy than they are science fiction, and there is very little futuristic space travel. I remember Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe alongside shows like Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine.
There were shows that showcased real science theory and space travel as well as shows that held little regard for the science fact and just went for the biggest baddest alien montage they could find (Starship Troopers anyone?).
The SyFy channel got dumb. I’m not really upset that I can’t get the majority of their programming because they have one really great show that I think is worth watching, The Expanse (based on a book series of the same name by James S.A. Corey).
When did shows like the WWE (or whatever incarnation it is now) and Z Nation become popular options over a good science fiction space opera? Seriously, how did Sharknado even get a sequel? I worry about the level of intelligence of our society if these types of shows are popular.
I know, I know, you may ask “What about Doctor Who? Isn’t that show pretty cheesy?” yes, it is. However, it has a whimsy to it that is more than just its silliness or cheesiness, there is an emotional element that is not just OOOOOH Sharks in a Tornado killing people! How do we stop it!? I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old and grumpy and, somehow, that’s making me nostalgic for my youth.
What do you think? Are you tired of Zombies, Comic Book rehashes, and science fiction that isn’t really science at all? Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,