Top 10 Science Fiction Properties
DISCLAIMER: Mild spoilers abound for various sci-fi properties in the following article. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Geeks-in-arms! Are you looking for pure, unadulterated escapism? Perhaps something more visually stimulating beyond a book (not that there’s anything wrong with reading)?
Look no further than this list, wherein I’ll provide you with TV shows and films that are escapism personified. Science fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching robots battling humans in space, falling headfirst into a dystopian, futuristic world rife with advanced technology, and being fully absorbed in stories hailing from galaxies that are vastly different from our own.
So, take a gander at the list below. You might find your next sci-fi obsession, or at least a modicum of relief from the monotony of quarantine.
Now, this gem is based off a series of novels by James S.A. Corey. We’re catapulted into the distant future. Earth has colonized the moon and terraformed Mars. A crew of misfits are thrown into the middle of a formidable war between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. It’s the very essence of a space opera.
In addition, The Expanse boasts one of the most diverse casts in television. The visuals are breathtaking, while the writing is expertly crafted. If you want to escape, The Expanse will provide that in spades.
I’m referring to the 2004 version, as I’ve yet to watch the classic iteration. Battlestar Galactica focuses on what’s left of humanity as they try to outwit the Cylons – artificially intelligent beings that look like humans. Our protagonists are on a journey to find Earth in the hopes of repopulating the human race. Hitting that “reset” button, if you will.
This show is whip-smart and jam-packed with metaphors. I love a show that makes me think. Battlestar Galactica is laden with religious and political overtones. It holds up a mirror to society and reminds us that, “all of this has happened before, and it will happen again.”
Who doesn’t love robots in the Old West? Westworld, HBO’s cult hit, is adapted from the film of the same name by Michael Crichton. We visit a park that specializes in harnessing artificial intelligence for the purpose of entertainment. Think virtual reality but on a more interactive scale. Now, the robots within the park become self-aware and there’s an uprising.
Westworld is the epitome of a Turing test. Can we create artificial intelligence on such a scale that their artificiality becomes undetectable? Should we? In addition, the series grapples with our own humanity in such a poignant manner that I often forget I’m watching a sci-fi show.
This show is severely underrated. Severely. While I’m glad the showrunners were able to end the series on their own terms, I wanted at least 20 seasons more than what we received. Orphan Black tells the story of a woman who discovers she has several doppelgangers. Not just doppelgangers…clones. Then, she delves into the story behind her conception, why she’s a clone, and the elusive company that created her for sinister means.
It’s compelling, eye-opening, and mesmerizing. Tatiana Maslany portrays at least 10 or more different clones throughout the tenure of Orphan Black. She is, quite easily, the best actress of my generation. Such an immense talent. Thank the TV gods she won an Emmy for her role(s).
Syfy’s newest space romp is flying under the radar, which is a shame, to be honest. My humble opinion? I believe viewers approach Vagrant Queen from a “serious science fiction” standpoint. However, this show is the opposite. Vagrant Queen never takes itself too seriously. It’s chock full of camp and cheesy in the best way, based on a comic book from Vault Comics. In fact, I’d peg it as closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than Battlestar Galactica.
The story follows a young deposed queen who sets out on a journey to find her captive mother after discovering the latter is alive. Of course, the Republic that dethroned her is hot on her heels. There’s action sequences aplenty, corny jokes on hand, and rockin’ ’80s tunes. Not to mention, Vagrant Queen is shattering barriers by way of diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation.
Farscape should be in every sci-fi fan’s televised arsenal. The show focuses on an Earth astronaut who’s thrown into a peculiar sector of the universe. On top of that, he finds himself aboard a fugitive alien starship. Talk about a culture shock!
Now, this series first premiered in 1999, so the visuals are not up to contemporary standards. However, Farscape is classic science fiction at its best. It’s fun, intelligent and rife with extraterrestrial adventures.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Doctor Who on this list. It has been around for 57 years, after all. That’s quite a feat for any TV show. Doctor Who is probably more family friendly than the rest of the properties on this list. It’s also filled to the brim with wisdom and encouragement.
The Doctor is a bastion of comfort, especially in these uncertain times. Not to mention, the creativity behind Doctor Who is simply sublime. The creatures, aliens, monsters, etc. crafted for this show are mind-blowing. If there’s one thing I love, it’s an intricate show mythology, and this series delivers on that front.
Snowpiercer was a film I stumbled upon while perusing Netflix one day. I was intrigued by the plot, but Chris Evans, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton headlining it is what really drew me in. The movie takes place after a climate change experiment goes terribly wrong, resulting in a frozen global wasteland and millions of deaths. Those who are alive reside on the Snowpiercer, a perpetually moving train that circles the Earth.
There’s political and class warfare galore, plus a haunting look into a potential future for humanity as a whole. The plight of the characters in Snowpiercer isn’t that far off from our own society – impoverished humans toiling away while the 1% reap all the benefits money can buy. This movie is captivating, thrilling, and then some. In addition, it’s bolstered by some truly remarkable performances from a golden cast.
Now, this is when I fell head over heels for Oscar Isaac. Ex-Machina is another example of the Turing test in action. One man is invited to a genius billionaire inventor’s home to interact with the latter’s AI. Said AI has a human face, but her body is pure metal. However, the more time this man spends with her, the more “humanized” she becomes.
The film toys with the idea of advanced AI and whether we as humans should exercise that kind of power. Just because we can, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Isaac and the rest of the cast turn out brilliantly nuanced performances.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hooked on a feeling! Guardians of the Galaxy changed the MCU for the better, in my opinion. While I love films that imbue a message and thought-provoking themes, sometimes I want to just switch my brain off. Laugh a little. Dance to some catchy tunes.
James Gunn blessed us with a franchise that isn’t pompous, nor does it take itself too seriously. It’s lighthearted with the occasional heavier scene to break up the levity. To be frank, I think superhero blockbuster films should be fun. Laughter is the best medicine. Couple that with stunning imagery and an awesome soundtrack, and you’ve got a bona fide hit.
What are your favorite sci-fi TV series and films? Let Your Geek Sideshow and sound off in the comments below!