This past week I wrote my first recap of a science fiction TV show, CW’s “The 100” Season 3 opener, for USA Today Happily Ever After. (Warning – spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the first two seasons or the new season premiere.) It was an interesting experience to watch a favorite program knowing I was going to sit down immediately afterwards and try to write a column about it. I wasn’t going to go for a review or a moment by moment reconstruction of the show, but more of a conversation with my readers. Did you see that? And wow, I never expected this! And do you think there’s a deep meaning to the other thing that happened….
I took scribbly notes to remind myself of certain points.
· Bellamy’s not all that into his new girlfriend
· What book is that she handed him?
· Creepy drones
· Octavia on a horse
· So much for the truce
If you haven’t watched this program, here’s the original description from the Internet Database of Movies: Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity's lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.
Ok, but that was only the beginning. This show has evolved into a complex science fiction story, pitting the “Sky People” against the more primitive “Grounders” (because not all life had perished, as the inhabitants of the cobbled-together space station Ark believed) and the high tech people locked inside the Weather Mountain shelter. The latter were defeated at great cost at the end of Season 2 and a new high tech menace was introduced. An AI named Alie seems to have caused the EOTWAWKI and now she’s got sinister new plots. There have been romances of all types, including bisexual. Betrayal and great, lasting loyalties have been shown. Seemingly key characters have perished while others are surprisingly resilient. The generations of Sky People are not always in agreement on the best course of action. The linch pin of the series is Clarke, a strong young woman from the Ark.
Ok, I admit I love the show, even if I do sit on the edge of my seat for the whole hour because they do kill characters off with no compunction.
So as a science fiction author watching a TV show to write a pithy column, I took great notice of tidbits of foreshadowing that might otherwise have gone right over my head. I was sad to learn that a character I’d loved at the end of Season 2 was dismissed with about 5 words. Doing an internet search later, I learned that basically the actor had other things to do (good for him though!) and so the character was written out of the show. At least I never have THAT problem with the characters in my books. They stay unless I want them to go. I’m pondering whether a copy of The Iliad that Bellamy, the main hero, received, has some deep meaning in terms of what we might expect this season. Of all the books in the world, this is the one they spend precious screen time handing him??? So it must mean something, right? Or is it a red herring? And does the passing reference to reversing contraception now that the people of the Ark are on the ground mean we’re going to see babies soon?
I love the through worldbuilding, especially when it comes to the Grounders, who have an elaborate language that sound as if it could have evolved from English (which they also speak perfectly). Their costumes reflect their harsh world and strict customs, which they’re governed by in order to survive but which seem barbaric to the Sky People (and to us).
The Sky People are no angels either though – they used to “float” people out the airlocks of the space station for all kinds of minor crimes. They also keep stridently claiming ownership of the Earth, even though the Grounders are clearly in possession of large swathes of it.
The Weather Mountain people were monsters in a lot of ways…but again, not all of them agreed and some actively tried to help.
OK, you do have to suspend belief sometimes (animals still trapped in a zoo 97 years later – WTF?) Two-headed deer but the humans don’t have radiation damage?
I realized that while romance novels such as I write will always have A Happily Ever After or at least a Happy For Now ending, the writers of a TV series want you to keep tuning in week after week, so they aren’t striving to resolve romantic relationships and keep them resolved. That’s not meant as a criticism on my part - books and TV shows serve different entertainment purposes (plus they have sponsors and a network to keep happy). But it does serve as a helpful boundary for my expectations.
“The 100” is based on books by Kass Morgan. I tried to read the books but alas, I’d been imprinted by the TV series, and some of the characters and plot points have been changed so much, I found it confusing. She recently did a quick Q&A on twitter (@kassmorganbooks), answering queries from reader/viewers, and she seems pretty pleased with the choices made by the TV producers/writers.
There’s also an excellent interview with her in the March 2014 “Parade” http://parade.com/272468/sonacharaipotra/the-100-author-kass-morgan-talks-sci-fi-mood-music-and-writerly-rituals/ where she explains how the books came about and “talks scifi, mood music and writerly rituals.”
That would be my #1 dream, to have one of my books made into a movie or TV show – FUN stuff. Well, never say never! Can't say more but fingers crossed!
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