Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Fictional Waltz: Who Knew Software Had a Sense of Humor?

Darkness seems to wrap around us every day, in our jobs, in our culture...but there's still fun to be had.

One of my favorite films is After the Rain. It's the last script written by Akira Kurosawa. Great film. I watched a clip from the film on youtube...the only trouble, it had no subtitles. So I activated youtube's subtitle generator. The results were hilarious.

"About one o'clock in the menu have earned him great tours."
"Mike, he was missing."
"She's there."
"New York!"
"The Le Mons!"
"It's not the same good suit, against reason."
"Not his furrow."
"Moncton and tsunami!"
"First smiles and for the moment it's put back flat."
"As for the manga, Basque Barbara Median."
"For me it's not that, we still found a difference."
"Hired at the right time for the Lotois!"
"Cross on the canvas! Noblet! Noblet!"
"Two schoolboys!"
"No passengers."
"Although newspapers when it's a bit in the alcohol in the passion..."
"As for me, I'm a dead man insurer."
"That's how I sign me."
"Enable sampdoria allowing the canton of Vaud about Claud LeBlond!"
"The other side of the room for all other days!"
"If you think being adopted at baseball school such action to sign the text!"
"Volkswagon, 5,000,000."
"A spokesperson has a short memory."
"Other axis down but nothing is played!"
"They must be born in August!"

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Fictional Waltz: Prometheus Boot

If I wanted to waste my time, I could rewrite the plot of Prometheus into something interesting. I guess I'm wasting my time.

Here's the plot of Prometheus in a nutshell.
Ancient Engineers in a bizarre ritual sacrificed one of their own using nanomachine oil to deconstruct the victim's body into constituent DNA in order to seed the early Earth. Maybe they were hoping to re-create themselves in us. But we were a disappointment. They decided to eradicate their creation. Before they did so, these half-smart idiots managed to destroy their forward operating base in an accident involving their shaper nano oil. Some of them went into cryosleep to sleep through the event. Bad for them as a whole, since this biohazard spread throughout their civilization, maybe even to their home world, and destroyed most of them. Cut to Earth,the near future. Rich guy puts together the pieces of the puzzle of artifacts to discover the location of the Engineer's forward base. He secretly wishes to live forever, but his initial idea to create an artificial shell for his mind only led to the creation of androids, not a viable host body. So, as an old man, he hides away in cryosleep on the deep space exploration ship he sends out to investigate this mystery. He secretly hopes to discover immortality. Lots of nonsensical shit happens, including the nanomachine oil being unleashed as an uncontrolled experiment by the android - on orders from the old fuck. It doesn't work out like he planned. Most of the crew dies and he's killed by the Engineer he wakes up. Instead of immortality, he gets death. The Engineer wants to complete his mission to destroy humanity, so he tries to launch his strike craft, only to be taken out by the Earth ship, which is also destroyed. The human survivor decides to take the remaining Engineer ship to their home world. The End.

I am aware that a few of my readers are deeply vested in this movie, in the Alien franchise. I'm not. If you have been entertained by Prometheus or the Alien series, good. I'm glad you got your money's worth out of it. Many of us have not had any benefit from exposure to these films. For me, Prometheus is a roasted piece of fecal matter. With just about any seasoned professional SF writer, or shit, for that matter, just about any well-read fan of science fiction, you could have had a coherent, compelling story. Like this one.

For those who complain about my little sketch below, I will explain. Every story must have an end. This is part one of an extended end to the Alien/Engineer story. I would take them out with a bang. It would never be made, the film industry is ruled by corporations. Little things like entertainment and good stories mean nothing to them. $$$ does. It is their sole concern. Why are all the new Star Wars movies orbiting around the original from 1977? $$$. Why is the Alien franchise an open one, with no ending or conclusion to the cycle? $$$. Here's what might be if money didn't rule the known universe.

Now, I like the parts of the story about egotistical rich men who want to live forever. Kinda reminds me of a recent president of the United States. Let's keep that, only, this time, the evidence doesn't consist of stone carvings on Earth. Please, this is science fiction. Let's borrow a few ideas from Arthur C. Clarke and Mass Effect. An artifact is found buried on the Moon. It beams a message into deep space, to Mars. We find a collapsed, abandoned base on Mars with fossilized Alien hunters and Engineer corpses. No threats. The transmission from the Moon was recorded by the still-functioning computer system, but the transluminal comm system was destroyed in the ancient catastrophe. The old guy funds a deep-space cryosleep mission to the Engineers' forward base.

We keep the mission part, how the old guy is hidden away on the ship, his motivations for doing so, and his spy/agent, the android.

Then it gets weird. I have learned one thing from the many tragedies I have endured in my life: Nothing turns out the way you think it will.

After they went into cryosleep, there was a revolution. The ship was never launched on its mission. It has instead been in a distant orbit around the sun. Meanwhile, peace was restored and humanity forgot about the mission. The ship is found and stashed in an orbit with other space junk. Three thousand years pass. The original AI, the one the genius old monomaniac created, is still ticking and has lots of money. An inventory of the trash orbit has been done and the ship discovered. The cryosleep containers are all still intact, still functional. The AI hires a massive starship to transport the ship to the Engineer forward base. A number of major catches to the old guy's plan ensue.

They are awakened by humans from the future. They are transhuman, with internal cybernetic enhancements. There are also true AI bots on the ship. Here's a great line one of them speaks to the android: "Shit, you are so Version 1.0." Their immense ship is transluminal, they are in orbit over the Engineer forward base. The only trouble is, they will release the ship from one of their holding bays, but if they land, they can't come back up. The world has been banned from contact for about five hundred years. Anyone going to the surface has to stay there. "You can orbit for a while, take what readings you want, send down remotes. After you're done, we'll load you up in the bay and take you back to Sol system. The old man's AI wants to see him again."

The old man is secretly awakened by the android. He takes control of the ship and lands it on the planet. The transhumans on the big starship warn them that they are armed with directed energy weapons and hypervelocity rail guns. They will be destroyed if they try to make orbit.

Idiocy ensues. They beg for help from the surface, the transhumans send down remotes to help. The old man wakes one of the cyropreserved Engineers, against the advice from the starship. The remotes talk to the Engineer with a translation program, interrogate him. The old man and the others realize that there's more going on here than they knew. It's like the people on the ship know more about the Engineers than they do. It is revealed that the Engineers are religious bigots. He hunts and kills most of the crew before he tries to take off. As good as their word, the immense human starship blows the shit out of the Engineer's ship. It seems that 3000 years is enough time for humanity to surpass the technology of the Engineers. The surviving humans on the planet take the last Engineer ship and, in a very risky maneuver, use transluminal near the planet's surface to jump into hyperspace.

Did I mention that the transhumans don't speak? They communicate via internal comm systems. Occasionally they will sing. Very weird people, not any identifiable race, like they are a mixture of all races. Very family atmosphere, little children. Two of the scientists on the old man's ship like these new humans so much, they pack up and leave. The CO of the old man's ship demands their return. "They've joined the crew, they're us now. You can be, too." The CO is repulsed by the offer, but this starts a conflict on the old man's ship, where many of the crew want to join the transhumans. The android kills a man who tries to leave. About this time, the old man and the android take control of the ship and land.

The last scenes of the movie, which is, of course, part one of a series, reveals something that we've known intuitively from about halfway through the movie: the real protagonists of the film are the transhumans. Especially the captain of the immense ship, who is a female always with small children around her. It is revealed that this is not just any freelance cargo ship. It's a warship full of mercenaries. They were hired by the AI to destroy the Alien/Engineer menace once and for all. The original plan, to fulfill the old man's dream of seeing the Engineer forward base, put them back into cryosleep, use what their remotes could learn from the surface to find the Engineer home world, then bombard the forward base into radioactive slag. They know where the survivors are headed, to the Engineer home world. We see a vast array of fighting machines and soldiers come awake in a storage area. Time to finish the fight.


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