A Sci-Fi Series Based on “Heart of Darkness”

Crackle is developing a series reimagining of the Joseph Conrad novel “Heart of Darkness,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project is set in the future where Earth is a distant memory. It is described as an exploration of what it means to be human on a space odyssey where the survival of the human race hangs in…

via Crackle to Develop Sci-Fi Series Based on ‘Heart of Darkness’ (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

I could be behind this. I blogged before about Heart of Darkness and the possibility of separating theme from setting:

I don’t think Heart of Darkness is actually about colonialism per se. The rapacious aspect of Belgian rule in the Congo is just the setting for the novel’s true theme: the collapse of human spirit under harsh conditions. The encounter between human societies at differing stages of development, and the inevitable mistrust and exploitation that follows, is a vehicle for this theme. But you could set it in any hostile environment and get similar results. If you can get a character from a place of idealism to a place of “The horror!”, then you can get what Conrad was going for.

Sci-Fi is custom-built for just this sort of re-imagining.

Time in Space

One of the sci-fi novellas I’m working on right now, Void, has a theme about space travel and the hell it plays with time. When I wrote Solar System Blues, I avoided this by making the ship in question travel at below-light velocity, and deliberately making the voyage a long one. Even then, the fact that Burton had been in space for 30 years straight had consequences for his character.

But ever since Einstein, the idea has been that faster-than-light travel would warp time around a vessel, so someone would seem to travel to Alpha Centauri quickly would discover upon his return that many years had transpired on Earth.

In such a system, people who traveled in space professionally would be a breed apart from the rest of humanity, quickly cut off from their familial roots. They’d have to develop their own culture merely to have any sense of themselves. That’s part of what is animating the ennui that Lang, my protagonist in Void, suffers.

I’m not hitting this too hard, because I’m not well-versed enough in space-time physics. It’s just there in the background, humanity cut off by the cold empty distances from its home.

Why it’s called Void should be clear. Read the first two chapters for free on Tablo.

void2.jpg

 

1985 is a Thing

Way before I’d ever read 1984, I’d heard of it. I don’t know if I had heard of it during the year 1984, as I turned eight that autumn, but somewhere along the way I heard that particular year spoken of in that way that conveyed symbolic significance. When I did read it,that significance finally took shape.

In between the realization that 1984 was a book, and reading that book, I also somehow digested the notion that someone had written a response to it, and that someone was not George Orwell (if I knew who Orwell was at the time, which seems unlikely). I was aware, at some point, that there was also a book called 1985.

Today, in a lonely impulse of delight while pursuing Goodreads, I confirmed that reality.

Anthony Burgess. Of course.

As a sidebar, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation has a nice historical summary of the dystopian genre. I never would have realized that Brave New World was written before 1984.

The term ‘utopia’, literally meaning ‘no place’, was coined by Thomas More in his book of the same title. Utopia (1516) describes a fictional island in the Atlantic ocean and is a satire on the state of England. The English philosopher John Stuart Mill coined ‘Dystopia’, meaning ‘bad place’, in 1868 as he was denouncing the government’s Irish land policy. He was inspired by More’s writing on utopia.

Something fitting about “Utopia” being about England and “Dystopia” being about Ireland. Always thus, I suppose.

In any case, I look forward to reading it.