Monday, August 26, 2013

Nerd World Problems

Small gripe. (A few Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy spoilers beneath.)

Under the missus' tutelage, I've been, at a snail's pace, absorbing both New Who and Douglas Adams (exemplified, in this case, by Life, the Universe and Everything) and something, a commonality across both forms of British science fiction, has arisen to irk me.

Both series unfold a setting that promises to be absolutely mind-boggling in size, establishing all known time and space as potential backdrop for the adventures of their main characters. Both series, however, spend a distressing percentage of their time in modern day (or approximately modern day) England.

This irritates me.

Now, with Doctor Who, there are some allowances to be made. As a television show, they're certainly and notoriously on a shoestring budget and it's substantially cheaper to shoot in Cardiff or Sussex or Coventry than the furthest reaches of interstellar space. This, as an independent filmmaker, I can appreciate.

Why I don't think they're entirely excusable, however, is that they make almost no effort to explain this phenomena, the Doctor perpetually visiting a relatively narrow band, both chronologically and geographically, with such regularity, that nine of the thirteen episodes in Series II take place somewhere in the UK. That's practically 70% of the show. If extended interstellar travel's beyond your budget, maybe you should limit the powers of your protagonist somewhat. A time machine that could only travel through various periods in England's history still sounds like an exciting show and doesn't frustrate me nearly as much as the squandered potential all of explored and unexplored space does.

HG2G is, however, drastically more offensive since it's a goddamn novel, precisely the type of medium broke science fiction writers turn to when they wish to be unconstrained by budgets and logistics. Yet, for a series that literally destroys England and earth along with it in the opening pages, Adams, it seems, will concoct any foreseeable reason to return to the comparatively boring and, indeed, by his own description, "mostly harmless" planet of his birth.

It's first destroyed, rebuilt, re-visited in its prehistoric infancy and eventually re-visited days before its destruction yet again.

I'm sorry, British science-fiction luminaries, but Dorset? Fucking boring compared to Tatooine. Actual fact.

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