I’ve been getting deep into sci-fi, or more precisely, speculative fiction over the past few years. It started with Ray Bradbury (RIP) and went off into the stratosphere with known and lesser known writers (mostly from the “golden age” of the 40s and 50s). Brian W Aldiss, Alfred Bester, Octavia Butler, Henry Kuttner, J. C. Furnas, Shirley Jackson, Nalo Hopkinson… I could lock myself in a room scattered with these stories, a good vegan curry and carrot cake, and you wouldn’t see me until all were consumed.
Hollywood is coming out with better sci-fi stories these days (I’ll have you leaping to your feet shouting when I tell you, “I am not a fan of even classic Star Wars!”) A lot of the stories are taken from the classic writers. Philip K. Dick: A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend.
What works for me personally is taking space and guns out of sci-fi and inserting social commentary instead.
In my own back yard, my buddy Jim Munroe has been creating sci-fi and speculative fiction in a variety of forms including fiction, graphic novels and now films.
There’s a new wave of sci-fi made without huge budgets. By collaborating with some creative minds you can do high quality films with high quality stories.
Jim started with a movie that had seven installments directed by seven different people – Infest Wisely – where nanotechnology allowed you to do cool things like take pictures with your eyes. This no-budget sci-fi had to be very creative to get around costly special effects.
Next was Ghosts With Shit Jobs, a sci-fi with a low budget, that did put some time and money into limited special effects. The film played in 25 cities around the world thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. Unlike any Hollywood film, Jim breaks down the numbers of Ghosts With Shit Jobs for everyone to check out. It falls inline with Jim’s mandate of his organization, No Media Kings, to give resources and support to anyone interested in DIY media.
Up next is Haphead. Still in development, you can check out the trailer here.
What interests me about these films, and others in the lo-fi sci-fi movie scene is that real care is taken with the story. Not just slapping laser guns into hands of chisel faced actors, these indie films contemplate the path we are on as a society, blindingly consuming new technology. Turning our backs on the earth’s environment and each other, what will become of us in the 50 years?
Haphead is set in 2025 where former well paid silicon valley jobs are pushed into massive sweatshops. Gamers, unsatisfied with video games looking and sounding amazing, now want to literally feel the punches, throws, and rifle kick-backs. And… any skill you have in the game world transposes into the real world. Maxine takes a summer job in the so-huge-you-can-see-it-from-space electronics factory that makes the cables to plug into these gamer’s heads. She learns just how lethal the whole infrastructure is.
Sounds neat, eh? Haphead is currently in funding mode, so sign up on the home page to get early access to the whole season when it becomes available.