I was 9 years old when Star Wars came out in 1977.
Above the desk in my room (and by desk I mean an old door laid across two file cabinets) there were three 6 ft. shelves filled with Sci Fi figurines and meticulously-assembled models. Among them were Star Wars characters, TIE and X-Wing fighters, Battlestar Galactica ships (the Cylon ship was my favorite), and the crown jewel…
A huge model of the Cygnus from Disney’s The Black Hole!
So, needless to say, I was ecstatic to learn that my talented brother would be starring in a Science Fiction series. And the bonus…
I got to read the Pilot Script.
What kind of Sci Fi is that again?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Hard Science Fiction,” then Wikipedia’s definition should clear things up:
“Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both.
The heart of the ‘hard SF’ designation is the relationship of the science content and attitude to the rest of the narrative, and (for some readers, at least) the ‘hardness’ or rigor of the science itself. One requirement for hard SF is procedural or intentional: a story should be trying to be accurate, logical, credible and rigorous in its use of current scientific and technical knowledge about which technology, phenomena, scenarios and situations that are practically and/or theoretically possible, and later discoveries do not necessarily invalidate the label.”
I always find a story far more intriguing when extraordinary elements are based in reality. The same is true in my own writing. For example, since one of the scripts I’m developing deals with a rift in parallel universes, I’ve been reading a couple books on quantum theory and alternate universes to ensure that anything in the story has a basis in
reality accepted theory.
Enough about that, we’re here to talk about…
The L5 Pilot Script
(NO SPOILERS HERE – But you’re welcome to read the Series Synopsis.)
As we see all too often, when filmmakers try to hang special effects on weak story structure, the whole thing crumbles into a sad, expensive heap. So, it’s a good thing the developers of L5 know how to craft an engaging story.
It was a real pleasure to read such a cleanly written script. The writer carefully weaves plot, exposition and character to provide a solid and interesting momentum that is at once urgent and calm. The balance struck between real human lives and the cold infinity of space and time creates a unique mood reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and the more recent Moon.
While the Pilot’s plot is a contained story of its own, the mysterious questions raised left me wanting to know more about the situation the crew finds themselves in and what they will discover as the series continues.
But what about all the Hard Sci Fi we were promised?!
The Science in the Fiction
Let’s revisit part of Wikipedia’s definition:
“The heart of the ‘hard SF’ designation is the relationship of the science content and attitude to the rest of the narrative…”
That’s a great description of how the science works in this script.
Along with creating a unique texture to the story, the technical information increases tension, reveals plot, and helps explain not only what happened but what might happen. The “hard science” seemed natural and never got in the way of the story or made me “aware of the writer.” No easy task.
When information that’s out of our scope of understanding gets presented in such a way that it still matters to us, that’s good writing. It matters because it’s important to the characters, but that only works if we’ve been made to care about them. Through solid writing, I was right there with the ship’s crew, intrigued and anxious, wondering what will happen next.
I can’t wait to see how L5‘s pilot episode turns out and wish everyone involved the best of luck as they move into post production!