Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



How many times do I have to tell you, novelists, screenwriters, and directors? You may think you’re a professional, you may have plenty of novels and movies under your belt. You think you can handle it. But I’m telling you, for your own good … do not mess with “hard” science fiction without an adult, professional guide to show you the way! You can hurt yourself! This stuff has sharp edges, it can and will blow up in your face! When Stanley Kubrick set out to make 2001: A Space Odyssey, did he slap together a script and have everybody just “blast off” toward Jupiter, rocket jets blazing, bug-eyed monsters attacking? He did not. He hired a pro, Arthur C. Clarke, to show him the way.

Danny Boyle is a very good director who made his name with Trainspotting, went on to 28 Days Later, a good post-apocalypse story until the very end, and then made one of the best feel-good movies of all time: Millions. But with this one, there is no Sir Arthur to lead him away from disaster. Just possibly this movie will appeal to the scientifically illiterate, but I doubt it, as by the time the almost incoherent end rolls around they’ll be lost in a sea of plot idiocies. I won’t even try to enumerate the scientific howlers, won’t even complain that spaceships don’t make noise as they move through space (Even Apollo 13 couldn’t avoid that inaccuracy), won’t worry too much about zero gee (it’s damn hard to do in every scene—though I’d like to see it done in an all-CGI movie), or wonder why the gigantic sun portrayed here seems to fry things only when it’s convenient to the plot for it to do so. No, we’ll let all that pass by, and won’t dwell on the idiotic device of having Freddy Kruger (it seems to be him, though for some reason we never see him except in distortion) along for the ride. The thing I laughed at the most was the very reason for being for this movie: The proposition that the sun is dying, and the corollary that this spaceship is meant to re-ignite it! The first is theoretically unlikely, to say the least, though I understand there was a rationale cooked up, but never mentioned, using something called a Q-ball, which is a “non-topological soliton” … and now you know just about as much as I do about it. But my reading suggests that Q-balls would prefer to eat neutron stars, and that it would take some millions of years to do so … but anyway, even allowing that the sun could sputter like a candle and go out in any time frame that would matter to a human being, or even to the human race … that idea seems positively easy to swallow compared to the notion that humans could do anything about it. Just as those who worry that we’re “destroying the planet” seem to have no real idea of the size, the sheer inertia of the planet, whether we’re talking about the rocky globe itself or just the thin ecosystem that covers it … (we may be destroying our ability to live on the planet, but “the planet” will quite handily survive anything we can do to it, trust me on this one) … well, the planet is a miniscule grain of dust compared to the sun. We could lob Earth, Mars, Jupiter and everything else into the sun and it would barely burp.