Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Thoughts on Picard

So I’ve had a few days to think about the first season of Picard, and I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed with it.  Now some will start claiming that the reason I didn’t like it was because I don’t like strong women, or some such shit, but the real reason I didn’t care for it was because I think it’s poorly written.  For example:

One of the key points for the show is the attack on Mars.  But what exactly happened?  We see some synths go mad and kill people and then lower the defenses and some ships show up – from somewhere – and blow up Mars.  But knowing what we know – that this not-so secret Romulan group hijacked the synths to make people hate them – that doesn’t really make much sense.  Like, if I were in charge of this not-so secret Romulan group, what I would have done was program the synths to take hostages.  Then have them call up the Federation Council with some bizarre demands like all the organics being evacuated off Earth so it can become a Synth Homeworld or something, and that for every five minutes their demands aren’t met they’ll kill a hostage.  And to show that they mean what they say, they kill two hostages because it’s been ten minutes since this started.  Then, when Starfleet Security shows up to rescue the hostages, something goes awry and the shipyards blow up.  That wouldn’t lead to as many casualties, but I think it would be better.

During the, I don’t know, Janeway Commission that investigates what happened on Mars, they might find incidents of “minor malfunctions” of the synths in the weeks leading up to it which in light of the events would just be seen as them preparing for the showdown.  It would all be wrapped up in a neat little bow and everyone would think the synths are deranged terrorists that we cannot negotiate with. 

Instead, we get this mystery: why did the synths go mad?  Because an organization known for “boldly going where no one has gone before” would look at a mystery, shrug, and go it’s not our concern.  Oh, wait.  When the problem seems to just be a malfunction – instead of deliberate maleficent – people would look into it, and what are the odds that the anti-synth people are better programmers than the pro-synth people?  All it would take would be the slightest bit of evidence that the synths were hacked to destroy the entire plan.  You would think that this not-so secret Romulan group would understand that people want to solve mysteries, so it’s best to do your big conspiracy thing in a way that leaves little mystery.

Moving on from Mars, I believe that in the first few episodes they talked of a “darkness” or something in Starfleet.  This would suggest a cabal of officers going against the ideals of Starfleet for their own gain.  That was interesting.  Until it turned out to just be Commodore Oh.  Which just makes me wonder how one officer had such influence, not only over Starfleet, but the Federation Council? 

I guess she’s just lucky.  I mean, at the end, when everyone knows that she was involved in the attack on Mars, she’s allowed to just leave.  No attempt is made to take her into custody and put on trial for this major act of terrorism. 

Of course, she’s rather stupid.  She ruined her plan.  If she hadn’t mindmelded with Agnes, then the bad synth wouldn’t have figured out she needed to build a transmitter.  I mean, it’s not like the not-so secret Romulan group had access to warships that they could have used to kill Picard on one ship and thus prevent him from getting to Maddox and learning where the other sister was.  If Oh had just used the resources she had – instead of trying to bring in some unknown – she could have killed Picard in an unfortunate attack by “bandits,” gotten Maddox because weren’t they already on their way to him, and still had the sister on the cube.  They could have gotten the information, went to the synth planet, use “planetary sterilization plan five” or whatever (side note, how many planetary sterilization plans do you need?) and nobody would have known.  This was less a case of the good guys figuring out the bad guys plan as much as the bad guys tripping all over themselves and the good guys going, “Hey.”

Since I mentioned the bad synth, let’s talk about the big bad Cthulhu synths.  I’m guessing that they started with this idea of how will people react to synthetic life.  It’s an idea that will move from science fiction to science fact sooner than many people suspect, so I applaud the idea of getting people to think about it.  I just don’t think Star Trek is a good vehicle for such a story idea.  Anyway, we understand that organics can be devious and can even kill to further their goals.  So we can either show the synths to be better than us, or just as bad.  And it’s safer to go with the idea that they can be just as bad, I mean, we don’t want to make the audience think too much.  But to muddy everything up, let’s just introduce these big bad Cthulhu synths because, well, they couldn’t use the Borg to be the menacing threat anymore.  Does that mean that whatever Star Trek there is in thirty years will just have a Cthulhu synth as part of the crew?

I think the problem with Picard is that they took ten, thousand piece puzzles and took one hundred pieces out of each, and tried to make one puzzle.  Here and there you have five or six pieces that fit together, but you also have seven corners.  The more I think about the show, the more inconsistencies I see.  And not just with the other Trek shows, but even within itself.  Like, the synths can make a magical wrench that can fix unreparable mechanical things, but they can’t use it to make surgical equipment to fix Picard’s brain thing? 

I’ll watch season two – probably dealing with a group of Klingons trying to bring about their version of Ragnarok – but only because I’ll probably get more enjoyment out of watching people rip the show apart than I will get from watching the show.  I mean, I’ve seen people say that they think Picard is the best Trek in years, but that’s not that high of a bar to clear.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus sale!

So you’ve been stuck at home for a week or so and you’ve burned through all your Kindle ebooks.  What do you do?  Why, you download more, of course.  To help you out, from Monday March 23 through Friday March 27, the following six of my ebooks will be free to download.  That’s over one hundred short stories for the price of a few clicks. 

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet is a collection of forty stories covering various genres and themes ranging from six to over 4,200 words in length. Some I began writing well over a decade ago, while others were written especially for this collection. All together, they are a buffet of my writing. As such, I encourage you to read as much as you want. Go back for seconds, thirds, fourths even. I won’t mind if you skip over the stuff you don’t like, but, to quote your mother, “How do you know you don’t like it? Have you tried it?”

“Brain for Rent and other stories” is a collection of five of my short scifi stories to give a sampling of my writing. The collection includes: “Brain for Rent” about a ne’re-do-well failed writer with a conceptual implant who discusses his work with a young woman thinking of getting an implant herself. “The Demonstration” is about a different young woman wanting to show off her latest body modification. “Self Imprisonment” offers one solution of safe keeping the backup copy of yourself. “The Best Job Ever” is about a necessary – yet unpleasant – human/alien interaction. And the collection ends with “Why Stay?” which explains why, after years of fighting the humans, the robots just deactivate.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.

Like most people, Jason Fisher wanted to make the world a better place, but he doubted he would ever have the chance to make much of a mark. Then a “woman” came to him, asking his help to save humanity by threatening it.

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.