the science back in science fiction movies.
That’s Europa Report.
the near future, water has been discovered on Europa, a moon of Jupiter. A privately-financed mission goes to
investigate and hopefully find life. But
before they even reach their goal, accidents happen, and communications are cut
off. The result is “found footage” which
people on the ground present to us with some explanation, but they mostly let
the footage speak for itself.
is dangerous. As the footage plays out,
it becomes obvious someone has died, and the rest puzzle about how to break the
news. That sets us up for the spacewalk:
This is no common walk on a shuttle
mission. Simple repair work turns treacherous,
and it’s like a blow to the gut to see how fragile human life is when trapped
in spacesuits in the vacuum of space millions of miles from any help.
team lands safely on the ice of Europa, barely.
Having missed their landing spot with the most promising place to find
liquid water beneath, Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra) is determined to walk
across the ice and work her experiments.
Out of direct line of sight from their craft, the radiation from Jupiter
is growing. She is convinced if she goes
a little farther, she may find what their mission is all about—evidence of
life. Will she risk it?
Europa Report is a lean,
spare movie about space exploration.
This is no Star Trek or Star Wars, where people can lounge
around inside their spaceships. And it
is scientifically accurate, with the science an integral part of the plot,
instead of being used as a form of magic when a crisis happens. To the contrary, the science causes the
crises: Space is filled with
radiation. Metal freezes to metal in
space. Hydrazine is corrosive. You have to go back to 2001: A Space Odyssey or The
Andromeda Strain for a similar movie, but this is done with modern
entire cast is outstanding, especially Sharlto Copley as Corrigan, the man who
constantly sends messages to his little boy about this great adventure. And we’re right with Wydra as Dr. Petrovna as
she risks it all for scientific discovery.
And Anamaria Marinca as Rosa Dasque shows great determination as the
astronaut who explains the footage, giving us hope that some of them
make it back. But the universe cares
little about adventure, science, or determination. It can run these over without looking
back. In the end, the movie poses the
question, “Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known, what does your
life actually matter?”
is easily the best science fiction movie so far this year, especially when
compared to overblown entries with gigantic budgets and forgettable characters
reimagining a novel, such as my The War of theWorlds and Fairies, it’s important to make sure the older work is copyright
free. This is true even though over 95% of the words are mine, and very few words are from the original. Knowing that a novel was written
before 1900 is not enough. Since I
didn’t want to do all the work of writing a novel and then have it turn out to
be illegal, I consulted the H.G. Wells Society in England.
of the London School of Economics and Political Science
Wells around 1890
are authoritative, and they say that any works of Wells printed before December
31, 1922 is public domain in the U.S. The War of the Worlds was published in
1898, so it’s free to use.
the United Kingdom, his works remain under copyright until December 31, 2016,
but it would take incredible speed to have my work accepted, published, and
then distributed in the U.K. before then, so that’s not a problem.)
on this subject, I believed the rumor that Star
Trek: The Next Generation got in big trouble for using the Sherlock Holmes
characters without permission. The
Arthur Conan Doyle estate still owns the rights until 2023, so don’t
Arthur Conan Doyle looked like Watson
but that is another story
the wacko website io9 has revealed there was no trouble. Paramount had permission from the Conan Doyle
estate, for lotsa lotsa money.
to H.G. Wells. The only novel of his
published after 1922 that I have some knowledge of is Things to Come. I never read
the book, but I watched the movie that was made back in 1936. It predicted a Second World War that would
last for decades and leave the world in a kind of feudalism. Then it would be up to the scientists to lead
us to a kind of utopia. It’s the sort of
movie whose predictions of the future were amazingly wrong, and the special
effects were not special, but which still fascinates.