I didn't consider myself a Science fiction fan until I made a short mental list of a smattering of recent TV I've watched. (Back when I was younger, my older brother introduced me to Heinlein's books, Asimov, the Dune series as well as Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, and C.S. Lewis. Most of these I read again and/or saw as movies when my daughter was an adolescent, then again when my sons were getting into the SciFi and Fantasy genres.) Truth be told, I was a Star Trek snob only to much later on accept Picard and crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the television shows. With this in mind, I offer my brief comments on some top quality viewing:

The Man in the High Castle was the first TV series, watched only last year although first aired in 2015. Based on a 1962 book with the same title by Philip K. Dick, with his daughter Isa Dick Hackett as one of several executive producers, the main one being Ridley Scott. The series has nothing to do with androids, AI or robots, but delves into the concept of a dystopian alternate history, exploring how life would be quite different if Hitler had prevailed. You may find the theme song Edelweiss beautiful, bothersome or the perfect choice for fluctuating emotions. Mesmerizing.

Electric Dreams was suggested by Netflix or Amazon Prime and featured ten episodes each lasting under an hour, intended as stand alone stories although common themes and threads can be noted. These were based on PKD's short stories, which I have a vague recollection of reading, not that it mattered. Each episode was more haunting and devastating to watch than the next, with an excellent cast, co-produced by Channel 4 UK and Amazon Prime Video. PDK's daughter as well as Bryan Cranston are among the executive producers. I found myself rooting for the androids and pretty much disliking the humans. A definite bonus was hearing music from Bear McCreary.

Humans explores lifelike robots with AI called synths who are used by humans for babysitting, prostitutes, caregivers and replacements for deceased loved ones. William Hurt is stellar in his complex character portrayal as a supposedly retiring AI researcher suffering from physical and mental problems after a stroke. Another difficult show to watch with many twists and turns that left Season One ending in ways both satisfying yet leaving room for future episodes which do exist but I've not watched. Yet.

Westworld, Season One, was almost too rich with likeable and unlikeable characters, certainly not a feel good about being human series at all. I watched this with no foreknowledge of the stories, the previous film nor having read the book. I had been on an Anthony Hopkins binge and he certainly stole the show in more ways than one. Again, disturbing to watch because of violence and for me, compassion for the androids that are programmed to please high-paying human guests. I had to remind myself they were all actors and actually couldn't watch certain sequences. Riveting, though, no dozing off during this!

Marjorie Prime is the only movie included. While it doesn't have any robots per se (or does it?), the story is about an elderly widow with mid-stage dementia played with heartbreaking attention to accuracy. Instead of a human caregiver, her family has paid for an android holographic projection which resembles her late husband in his prime, coincidentally what the creations are called, Primes. Squarely in the SciFi genre, this deftly manages to touch on the all too real life issues Alzheimer's/Dementia families struggle with minute-to-minute, day in and day out.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is far and away the best way to finish up before watching my next in queue series, The Red Queen, in Russian with English subtitles. Designed as an interactive theater experience, SJ&TSV explodes with all the glitter, glam and sexual innuendo one might want. This is not The Sound of Music nor Hair nor Tommy, as great as they all were. This is singing and dancing with Disco-blasting intensity so raucous I'm surprised my TV didn't disintegrate. Not only is this over-the-top show experiencing a revival, if you want to perform it in your hometown, you can. Would highly recommend this to cure any malaise.

SciFiQuest 3018: A Dystopia for the Rest of Us

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