SciFi Junky Paradise
By Arthur Breur
I’ve loved science fiction my entire life, probably starting with the original Star Trek series—or perhaps even earlier with children’s books or TV shows. I’m a full-on scifi junky and I need my regular “fix”.
Recently there have been some brilliant science fiction shows on television, thanks to there being so many new content providers—in addition to the original TV stations, movie studios, and big cable channels like HBO and Showtime, now we have production being done by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and probably HUNDREDS of other sources. I could list a ton of them and wanted to, but I have far too much to say about just one.
Amazon Prime recently provided a brilliant new series which impressed me more than any production in a long time, “Tales from the Loop”.
Now, I’m a fan of science fiction imagery as well as actual stories, and I had recently seen some of the amazing futuristic works of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag.
His imagery combines everyday “nowadays” elements with fantastic ones—such as giant robots or unexplained machinery—and the fantastic elements are always aged and patinated, sometimes even overgrown with weeds or ivy, indicating that they have been part of the scene for a long time. Stålenhag published one collection of works with a backstory of them happening near a scientific laboratory called the loop, and this book was the inspiration for the TV series of the same name.
From the very first moments of this series, you are immersed in a world that feels very much like our own, but has many elements that seem to be a mix of technology from over the past 50 years. Also, there are those fantastic “Stålenhag” elements just existing in the background: a large robot, huge humming towers, strange wind-vanes in a lake, and so forth.
The environment enchanted me, but the episodes—which you gradually learn are all intertwined—each mostly focus on a single event or circumstance: a single “what if”. For example: What if you could visit yourself in an alternate life? What if you could stop time and take one other person with you? What if you could switch bodies with another person?
The stories always provide a unique angle on the “what if” scenarios and go different directions than I expected as I was watching. Also, the production and special effects are beautiful and often very subtle.
This was season 1, and I very much hope that there are many seasons in the future.