Monday, 8 June 2015

J. Michael Straczynski, I expect better of you...

When I had heard that JMS was working on a new series, I was excited.  I adored Babylon 5, and enjoyed Jeremiah - the story lines were well crafted, with engaging plots, addressing diverse subjects with intelligence, and wit, drawing the viewer in, thoughtfully presenting ideas to be mulled over and considered rather than pushing a particular agenda.  They were original treatments of some fundamental questions all civilizations wrestle with, and like all good stories, they stand up to re watching.  Not a lot does these days.

When I heard that his new venture was working with the Wachowskis, I really wasn't too sure what to think.  The Matrix started off well, but was (in my own opinion) 2 movies too long. I had to admit that I didn't mind Speed Racer, but I was familiar with the source material and appreciated their adaptation.  Then came Cloud Atlas - aka 2 hours and 52 minutes of my life that I will never get back - which lead to my trepidation.

Sense8 is the result of that collaboration, and as of being 2/3 of the way through I am currently unimpressed.  I understand working to build the foundations for a sweeping storyline.  What I didn't expect was basically an unaccredited rip-off of Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human with a few alterations/adulterations (two extra characters and an elephant sized dose of every SJW cliche known to modern man - 'anysexual (except cis-normative) good/cis-normative (especially males) bad', 'socialism good/capitalism bad', 'social justice warrior good/ conservative EVIL').  Did they think that just because Sturgeon died in 1985, and the book was written in 1953 that no one would notice?

The man who wrote: 
"Understanding is a three-edged sword." 
"You and the rest of your kind take blind comfort in the belief that we are monsters, that you could never do what we did. The key ingredient in the anti-agapic cannot be synthesized. It must be taken from living beings. For one to live forever, another one must die. You will fall upon one another like wolves. It will make what we did pale by comparison. The billions who live forever will be a testimony to my work. And the billions who are murdered to buy that immortality will be the continuance of my work. Not like us? You will become us."
"Every damn patient who comes through that door, that's who. People come to doctors because they want us to be gods. They want us to make it better…or make it not so. They want to be healed and they come to me when their prayers aren't enough. Well, if I have to take the responsibility, then I claim the authority too. I did good. And we both know it. And no one is going to take that away."
"When I was 21, I visited Tibet. I went to see the new Dalai Lama. Uh, you do that sort of thing when you're 21 and the son of a diplomatic envoy. We had a simple dinner. Rice, raisins, carrots—steamed, not boiled—and green tea. When it was over, he looked at me and said, "Do you understand?" I said no, I didn't. "Good beginning," he said. "You'll be even better when you begin to understand what you do not understand." After reading some of your reports, I begin to understand what I don't understand about Babylon 5. But I couldn't wish for a more capable and skilled group of people to learn from. It was an early Earth President, Abraham Lincoln, who best described our current situation. He said…
[he gets interrupted by a security alarm]
. . .
[delivering the rest of his speech to an empty C&C] It was an early Earth president, Abraham Lincoln, who best described our situation. "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial though which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. We shall nobly save or meanly lose our last, best hope of Earth." [He looks around with a satisfied smile.] Five minutes to spare."

is so much better than that.   I would like to believe the man who wrote those things would not have had any hand in the...words fail me...complete and utter gong-show that was episodes 1 - 7.  I don't think he was allowed near the word processor until episode 8 - it was the first episode that actually had dialogue and plot development.  I will reserve final judgement to the end, just to see how it plays out and if they'll actually give Sturgeon the credit he's due.

Good science fiction should make you think, not push an agenda so blatantly it verges on propagandizing.  The JMS of Babylon 5 and Jeremiah did this; the responsible parties for this plagerization of a classic SF masterpiece do not.

Will the real JMS please stand up?