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Friday, December 2, 2011

Terra Nova as Good Biological Science Fiction

As Terra Nova chugs along to its season conclusion - perhaps series conclusion as well - it seems like a good time to assess what went wrong and right with the show.

Time travel is the central foundation of the series - people traveling from the future back to the prehistoric past.   But as a continuing time travel story, replete with the paradoxes of time travel - if I travel to the past to make my current world better, and I make the change in the past which does make my current world better, then why in my better current world, where I was growing up, would I have wanted to travel back to the past in the first place - Terra Nova offered little.   That general scenario was never Terra Nova's - the travel to the past is just to find a better life - but Terra Nova so far has not picked up on any other paradoxes, which are like fruit for the picking in time travel stories.

Dinosaurs ala Jurrasic Park are also an obvious mainstay of the series, and Terra Nova did pretty well on that score, though no great shakes.  The smaller screens of even today's big screen television sets are just no match for dinosaurs on the big movie screen, and dinosaurs do even worse on iPads.

But one area in which Terra Nova has excelled is in its thoughtful treatment of the natural world in the past - not just special effected dinosaurs - or what is otherwise known as biological science fiction.  A recent episode featured big insects outfitted with spy devices, an earlier episode had memories lost because of micro-organisms, and with Elisabeth's high tech medical knowledge playing a role in just about every show, the organic has really flourished in this series.

I admit to having a soft spot for biological science fiction - three of my novels pictured below delved into these themes (The Consciousness Plague about the loss of memory, and The Pixel Eye about squirrels outfitted with spying chips).  And I indicated in a piece on the History Channel about the evolution of science fiction a few years ago that I expected biological science fiction to be the next wave (replacing physics as the leading science-fiction science).

If Terra Nova does get a chance to continue - which I hope it does - it would do well to more prominetly mine this rich vein of stories.

See also Terra Nova Debuts
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