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So Much Sci-Fi

A scruffy gull by Dan 2021
Who's scruffy lookin'? by Dan 2021


There are scads of great science-fiction shows available for streaming right now. It's really mind-boggling. Growing up, I don't remember too many sci-fi shows on television other than Star Trek and black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone. Later on, the X-Files played for nine seasons. Beyond those shows and a handful more, I think I was reduced to watching B-grade monster flicks (F-grade in some instances) on TBS. You know, giant ants, Godzilla, Mothra, etc. Now, it seems like you can binge for days, even weeks on end, and only scratch the surface of what is available. Dark on Netflix struck me as fantastic and unusual for its unique take on time traveler. Two more sci-fi shows have recently impressed me: The Mandalorian and The Expanse.

The Mandalorian is just a fun show. I'm still not convinced Disney won't eventually run the Star Wars franchise into the ground with the sheer volume of series and movies on tap. With so much material being pumped out, inevitably, some of it won't be great.

The Mandalorian is an awesome kick-off to the live-action Star Wars TV show universe. I thoroughly enjoyed season one, and season two is just as good, if not better. Everything about The Mandalorian, from the music to the dusty cantinas, oozes space western–the Mando is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's man with no name. The show also stirs up fond memories of Akira Kurosawa's samurai movies, especially Yojimbo. From a writing perspective, I think it's interesting to consider how the creators managed to make the series seem so reminiscent of previous works (westerns and samurai flicks) and true to the Star Wars universe while feeling fresh and exciting.

I've been watching the latest season of The Expanse on Amazon and re-watching seasons one through four. This is truly a case where the show is pretty much on par with the books. I mean, wow, they did an outstanding job with the adaptation of the storyline. I notice where the show deviates some from the novels, but it's not enough to bother me. In fact, I think the show is better than some of the books, although the best books in the series do have the edge on the show.

The Expanse is essentially a space opera, yet it feels fresh. Here's why. First, the action (at least until the ring gates come into play) is confined to our solar system. I think this adds a bit of verisimilitude to the story. We've already landed probes on asteroids and visited the moon, so the universe of The Expanse doesn't seem that far-fetched. Then, there are the characters. Great characters, especially the crew of the Rocinante –fantastic in both the books & the show. This is truly space opera done right.

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