The Axanar blog is kicking off a range of new and regular columns, and Wednesday is the day for great science fiction. If you’re a Trek fan, chances are you like a few other pieces of SF, and thats what this new column is all about – great SF, whether it be film, book, or TV.
This is also a good chance to introduce myself a bit. I’m David Hollingworth, and I’m the guest blogger wrangler. I’d call myself ‘editor’, but that’s my day job, and this is a lot more fun. I’ve got a really passionate team of bloggers, and you’re going to meet them all over the next few weeks. It’s going to be fun for all of us!
To kick off our first Sci Fi Spotlight, I’m, going to talk about a great piece of science fiction – Sunshine. It’s a film by Danny Boyle, with a great cast, some astounding effects, and a message that slots into the Star Trek ethic rather nicely.
So what’s it all about? Well, in a nutshell, it’s about the end of the world. The sun’s going out, and the first mission to reignite our star went dead. The film centers on the second effort, and we meet our protagonists (they’re not quite heroes, but there are shades of that) when they are well into their mission. It’s a lonely mission, too; there are less than a dozen people on the Icarus 2 (note to self – never name a solar mission after someone who flew too close to the sun), and communications lag means they are effectively cut off. It’s also grounded in some very real science – the vessel relies upon a hydroponics garden for not only food, but also its atmosphere, and there’s some great ideas about how a mission that has to get close to the sun might actually work. The issue of gravity is hand-waved away, but I think that’s more about budget and effective acting, and at least there’s a great scene about surviving in a hard vacuum (hint: insulation!). There are certainly enough scenes that show how dangerous space is, and how fragile any mission in such an environment can be.
But, at its heart, it’s a film about hope. Sure, there’s an Event Horizon-style sub-plot that getting too close to the sun will send some people mad, but basically, Sunshine is about some very classic Star Trek ideals: self sacrifice for the greater good; operating as a tight team far away from home; and pushing the boundaries of science and knowledge. The Icarus 2 also has an impressively international crew (even if the Australian actor does sport an American accent). There’s Michelle Yeoh as the hydroponics expert, Chris Evans before Captain America, and Cillian Murphy’s cheekbones (and Cillian himself), backed by Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Rose Byrne, and Chipo Chung.
Sunshine, when it was released in 2007, didn’t set critics on fire, but it’s one those films that does polarise, and I certainly know that nearly everyone I’ve shown it to has been really impressed. The combination of solid effects (that haven’t aged at all), great performances, emotive plot, and an amazing soundtrack, make Sunshine quite a special film.