Another Look at Another Life

I recall taking a look at Netflix Original SciFi series, Another Life (starring Battlestar Galactica reboot alum Katee Sackhoff), when it first came out but for some reason, I didn’t look much past the first episode. More recently I took another look, following it to the end of the first season (they were recently renewed for a second season).

My first impression, or rather, second impression, is that its another attempt at the premise of being astray from the original mission, and then encountering hostile planets (so, much like both versions of Lost in Space, Space: 1999 and a few others). The slight twist to this is that all but the commander of the mission are very young (not children, though probably none are supposed to be older than 25). This leads to a fair amount of immature behavior, sex, and, most importantly, survival (for most of them) in the face of fairly deadly threats.

First of all, the premise that they were on the way to Pi Canis Majoris because an alien relic that landed on Earth was sending signals there is somewhat founded on scientific grounds. Though the star is known to have a circumstellar disk of dust thought to be leftover from earlier planet formation, no planets have been discovered around the star. Even so, it seems reasonable to expect a small planet to be discovered in this system eventually. The star itself is probably reasonable enough for life to survive (not to unstable, not too much radiation) if the planet is in a favorable location around the star. What is maybe unrealistic is why they would feel they’d have to blindly go there before they knew what the signal was about (and yes, this does end up being a problem!). Also, they don’t really say much about how this extraordinary jump in technology was reach in what I think is supposed to be about 50 years from now (I’ll have to check on that).

Its also seems reasonable that if they got lost on the way to star that’s almost 100 light years away that they’d be near a star that is much closer but roughly in the same part of they sky . This is consistent with the plot, in which they get trapped near the much closer star, Sirius, which is (roughly) in that same part of the sky (same direction). In actuality, they’d probably be pretty far from either star, but at least getting lost didn’t put them millions of light years away on the other side of the sky.

They approach encountering strange worlds in a realistic way, constantly battling microbes that are killing them in horrible ways. Although there are probably more prosaic ways of dying on the way to a target planet, our immune systems would probably not be able to handle many (or any?) alien germs thrown our way.

Its definitely worth a second look during their second season.

If you’d like to see more about such topics, take a look at my book, The Physics and Astronomy of Science Fiction (by Steven D. Bloom), available from most of your favorite internet based booksellers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) and from the publisher, McFarland.

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