Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Consulting Editor


Saturday Night in Saskatchewan
by Steve Stanton

Praise the System
by J. Richard Jacobs

Network Outage Engineer
by Erin Lale

Unintentional Colonists by Elizabeth Guizzetti

Mr. Weston’s Key
by Todd A. Burnett

Central Battle Command, Allied Forces: Day Four by Marilyn K. Martin

We Do Not Serve Weeping Men
by Eric Del Carlo


Zeros ... All Those Zeros! by Eric M. Jones

Facing Facts—And Analyzing Them
by John McCormick





Comic Strips



Perihelion Reviews

“Chasing Ice” Documents Global Warming

THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT is coming to an end.

The ice caps are melting, the ocean levels are rising. And humans, one might conjecture, are purposefully increasing the speed with which this is all happening. At very least it is all happening. There really is no question about that and these are not contentions up for debate. These—are facts. That is what the chasing icedocumentary “Chasing Ice” is all about. That, and sharing with us an unbelievably beautiful dance of time and nature in the form of video and photographs of a type which have never been seen before.

James Balog, creator and Director of the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), is a scientifically oriented documentarian. He is a long time, world renowned photographer famous for juxtapositions in his photographs using elements of nature and displaying them in ways that make them impossible to ignore. His photographs have graced the covers of “The New Yorker,” “National Geographic,” “Life,” “American Photo,” “Vanity Fair,” “Sierra,” “Audubon” and others. To give an example of what they found on the EIS over these past years, James Balog has said that regarding Glacier National Park in Montana, which used to have 150 glaciers, it now has 26 remaining. By the time our kids are in their fifties, it will need a new name. Perhaps Glacier Nostalgia Park or as Balog has suggested himself, Glacierless National Park.

Founded in 2007 by James Balog, the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) is an “innovative, long-term photography project that merges art and science to give a visual voice to the planet’s changing ecosystems. EIS imagery preserves a visual legacy, providing a unique baseline—useful in years, decades and even centuries to come—for revealing how climate change and other human activity impacts the planet.”

On Friday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m., I attended the premiere presentation of “Chasing Ice” at the perfect venue: the lovely, old fashioned Egyptian Theater in Seattle. Introducing and essential to bringing the film to Seattle was Bill Donnelly, a current Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Conservation Northwest; current Board President of Basel Action Network; and previous Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Washington Environmental Council (2000-2010).

Bill Donnelly of “Chasing Ice,” the documentary by James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), introduced the film.

“I’m Bill Donnelly and I’ve been working months getting to a moment like this. Thank you all for turning out. We’re going to see 75 minutes of what I think is a dazzling film with a very important message and some beautiful cinematography. It’s an adventure story, it’s got pathos in it, and of course it tells us something about what is happening to our planet. At the end of the film, I hope you will stay with us for a few minutes because Svavar Jonatansson, who is a member of the crew, will be here to talk with you about the film, about the development of the film, and answer questions, hopefully, to your satisfaction.”

The film was shot with astounding precision and artistry. The editing was superb. The music, perfectly matched up. The end title song was sung by Scarlett Johansson, with accompaniment by world renowned violinist Joshua Bell. The film had everyone in the theater sitting in stunned silence watching all the way through the end credits until the lights came up. This film is pure class with adventure, humor, pathos, and jaw dropping footage never seen before anywhere, by anyone. After 75 minutes of this incredible journey, we had the opportunity for our question and answer session with Jonatansson. At approximately 9:15 p.m., Donnelly introduced the guest speaker to us and the Q&A began.

Jonatansson: When I first met James Balog in 2004, outside an aluminum plant in Iceland, I didn’t know I was signing up for standing in front of a full theater, and this would be part of that work. It’s an incredible thing to see the project in perspective and to see that people are reacting positively to the result.

Audience: How long will it take for all the ice to melt completely?

Jonatansson: I don’t know. It depends on the glaciers. Some of them are disappearing quite quickly, just in front of our eyes. We’ve seen them go from small to smaller and to almost nothing. But I don’t know. It depends on the glacier, dramatic changes for most of them.

Audience: What’s the view of the rest of the world in terms of climate change?

Jonatansson: I’m from Iceland and we’re an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sometimes it feels like we’re very hindsighted in a lot of issues. Often you don’t hear anything about global warming and these issues. In Europe I think there is an awareness, yes. But it’s a relevant question in terms of how much is being done, what is the focus and et cetera. But an easy answer is it is probably more so recently.

Audience: What were the lenses used for the cameras in consideration of scope and range?

Jonatansson: In Iceland we were using 24mm and 20mm so each are rather wide lenses, but they’re not full-frame cameras so it’s not super wide at all. It depends on where the cameras are and how close to the glacier. But 24mm and 20mm, that’s very possible. Some are 28mm, I think 20mm was the widest used.

Audience: Is there any film available of that full 75 minute recording of the halving of the glacier to view?

Jonatansson: I’ve often pitched the idea that James should do an art exhibition, a full stage, blasting on every wall with the sound. That’d be amazing. I think it could be a beautiful idea. This whole film is about changing perception. That’s a valid point about putting it into a format where you get a different perception.

Audience: After working on a project like this, what do you want to do next?

Jonatansson: Personally? I’m very honored and happy to be able to continue with this. The project’s carrying on with distributing, not just carrying the message with the film We keep on looking at these changes. For me that’s a great chance to participate. On my own, I do my own good thing.

Audience: What about putting cameras in the southern hemisphere?

Jonatansson: I know there is a great desire to put out more and more and more. But at this moment, not a steady one. They do key photography in Bolivia. So far there is nothing down in the Antarctic. It’s all a question of manpower and money. But, there’s desire there."

Audience: Tell us what concerns you in your own country now?

Jonatansson: In terms of the glaciers we have kind of a double relationship because all around the world you see glaciers which all are melting. We have a relationship of violence with the glaciers because we have glacial floods. There’s geothermal activity. There’s a big lake that floods, so we see changes in our glaciers, not just through the climate but through the annual regular events.

I know two old brothers who are self-taught scientists. They live by the base of a glacier. We’ve spoken to them many times. I visit them often. When I visited them when I was interested in glaciers, they pointed out rocks where they were appearing through the glacier.

Our work is from 2004, these guys are in their 90s, so they’ve seen the changes through decades and decades. There’s a lot of canyons in the glaciers. I don’t think that the public accepts it so much where there’s awareness. It’s about trying to change the perception of people’s minds. It’s a very difficult thing to answer. You know? People aren’t really worried about it. But there’s an awareness. Worrying that the glaciers are shrinking. Or that they might disappear.

Audience: How are people responding to the film?

Jonatansson: You know it just premiered so recently, so I’ve not gotten the feedback on that. But I think that people should see it and of course we should get their feedback on it. I think that should be coming in the next couple of days.

Audience: How far do you have to go out to put the cameras and how heavy are your packs?

Jonatansson: Some of them were actually taken standing by the side of the road. I wouldn’t say we go that far, except for a couple of places in the Swiss Alps. Some of it was just helicopter rides in Greenland and Alaska. A couple of hours to get into some of these places. The packs would get pretty heavy when you have to carry the car batteries to power these things. The original trip was pretty heavy. But, after that it was really just a walk in the park.

Audience: How much time did James Balog spend in Iceland?

Jonatansson: A lot. I don’t know how many trips James has made to Iceland. They were quite a few. We spent a lot of time. We were busy. It’s working, working, every minute of daylight. And even in bad weather. Hhe really pushed us, all the time.

Audience: How was this film received at the Global Climate Summit? How was his presentation received?

Jonatansson: Very well. James Balog has a lot of experience presenting his work. As I understood, it was received very well. It was a great venue. A great opportunity. Both by the public and people in important positions who were listening. Not just appearing, but proceeding and understanding, hopefully just what you’ve been experiencing here. It does make an impact.

Bill Donnelly: Thank you. I encourage you to take a look at the “Chasing Ice” website. It has resources on it where you can find a link to things that you can do.

A complete review of the documentary “Chasing Ice” will appear in the December update of “Perihelion” science fiction. —J.Z. Murdock


Cloud Atlas, Directed by Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer, Warner Brothers, R

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN a messy attempt to tell a complex story, Directors Andy & Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have skillfully maintained as central themes and motifs across disparate characters and timelines with love and compassion. Adapted from the eponymous novel from David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” is a post-modern ode to the most seminal science fiction narratives, navigating through the past, present, and future of the excess and abuses of totalitarianism, regardless of whether politically or economically motivated.

Providing a concise synopsis of the stories and players in “Cloud Atlas” is a trying endeavor. Actors who are central characters in one time period are secondary characters in another, oftentimes attempting to blend into the scenery. Each character’s minute actions in one setting have implications in another, connecting humanity through one time-line made up of distinct experiences throughout several generations, making each human’s internal and external struggles synonymous. Each generation slightly leans on the adjacent generation, passing its most inherent themes, motifs, and learned experiences off to the next through different artistic mediums.

Actors portray characters throughout different centuries as different races, classes, genders, and partialities. Essentially, it is not external features that make up the vessel as much as it is the importance of the cargo it holds. In fact, vessels are a theme throughout the film. Not only as human beings, but actual vehicles. Each century and subplot in the film portrays how that society’s time period dealt with vehicles and transportation. Whether it is the physicality of a sailboat, mid-20th century’s dependence on petroleum, the digitization of analog processes, flight, or even a hybrid of them all.

Joseph Cambell’s monomyth suggests that all stories share an innate core, but the message of each story is unique to that society’s codes and conventions. It is this same concept in whicloud atlasch we can see similarities between the story of Hercules and the story of Jesus, and even those stories in the Wachowski’s “The Matrix.” The different forms of media portrayed in the film—whether a charming novel, a grand symphony, muckraking journalism, or even a suspense film—serve as a document to transport ideas to larger audiences through art. Much like how talents portray different characters, how vehicles appear throughout time, media tends to adapt to society and technology, and the central theme of those stories can relate to characters across both space and time.

Like the evolution of transportation, the evolution of media also tends to link these seemingly disparate characters and times together, and having a keen sense of contemporary and classic science fiction novels and films will augment the understanding and embrace of “Cloud Atlas.” Sonmi-451 and her story is a futuristic reference to both “Fahrenheit 451” and “Soylent Green” that are apparent not only in Sonmi’s name but also explicitly quoted earlier in the film in a different time period. While the film employs a pseudo-theme of reincarnation, it is media that tends to reincarnate over and over again.

Not only do humanity’s creations tend to link these stories together, but each character central to that time period is linked by a birthmark in the shape of a saber. Whether it is a coincidence or a mark of destiny, this birthmark is embraced by those who wield it, giving them the strength to overcome the adversity that faces them.

Media, characters, vehicles, birthmarks—they are all linked themes and motifs that allow humankind to transcend nature. The constant greed that begets oppression signifies of the abuses of mankind. “Cloud Atlas” portrays oppression through conspiracy. Each time period and story exposes a certain oppression and an active force to rebel against it. Furthermore, each central character procures a vehicular medium to pass along their struggle against adversity, only to be discovered by a new generation who applies such stories to their own current struggles.

Director Lana (Larry) Wachowski’s personal life has been a well-documented affair. Although her recent transgender experience should not overshadow “Cloud Atlas,” it certainly should not be ignored. Acceptance of an inherent character, despite the external features, is a central theme to the film. Taking comfort in one’s own body, connecting it to the mind, and expressing that struggle is what this story is all about. While there are many well-known sibling teams that have written, produced, and directed films together like the Wachowskis, “Cloud Atlas” poses a new threat to auteurism, the inclusion of a third director: Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”). The themes in this film support those throughout that filmmakers’ oeuvres, inviting closer viewings of his films, and a chance to revisit previous efforts with a clearer artistic map.

Produced for slightly over $100-million, the film is technically an independent picture; a major studio, Warner Brothers, only picked up distribution rights. Even for that amount of money, “Cloud Atlas” tends to have more value than films produced for twice, even three times the sum. The ability to produce CGI effects in contemporary science fiction and fantasy films has, in most cases, shown to be easily abused and superficial. In “Cloud Atlas,” special effects are introduced carefully and augment the story, never pulling attention away from the central themes and story. The artificial images appear natural, even during scenes that depict apocalyptic and dystopian futures.

Although I have not read the book “Cloud Atlas,” there is indeed a sense of completion that this adaptation has, compared to many others. The passion and love that encapsulates the film is relayed tenderly to the audience without being overwrought or insincere. The three directors have produced an epic film that retains its epic nature. At nearly three hours in length, I could sit and watch the world depicted in Cloud Atlas for days on end.

Many of the themes in the film are not readily apparent and are revealed through self-awareness. Each time period in the film caters to the aesthetics of that period, whether it is romanticism, futurism, impressionism. “Cloud Atlas” hides its post-modern core, particularly because the film’s center is transposed across incongruent times, societies, and technologies. Yet, there are conclusive ideas that match the dualities that exist in the id, ego, super-ego, and society at-large.

While oppression and conspiracies work to invoke weakness amongst the crowds, art is where there will always be a level playing field. Although many of the artists depicted in the film are not recognized during their own time, their masterworks are cherished in another, giving hope when there seems to be little to live for. This is the most important theme in the film: how simple acts transpire across generations, centuries, classes, genders, races, etc. “Cloud Atlas” smashes the most intense scientific, religious, and philosophical theories together to make complex themes and specificities more tangible, leaving a peaceful impression about the complexities of humanity. 5stars—Aaron Weiss


The Carbon Trap by Randy Dutton, Rainforest Press at Smashwords, $4.99.

REMEMBER, A HANDSHAKE is not a guarantee.
Remember, trust no one—not even yourself.
Remember, never turn your back, even for the smallest fraction of a second.
Remember ...

I have read many conspiracy novels, but none have been like this. In a sense I’m reminded a little of Tom Clancy’s work, but just slightly. This one goes way beyond that. This one is real, like a cardiac arrest on a runaway train approaching a collapsed trestle over a bottomless gorge. It is today, or not too many days away in a near future.The Carbon Trap

The clock is ticking. In these times I suppose it is better to say that the clock is humming. In The Carbon Trap by Randy Dutton, the clock is humming loudly and insistently toward a new world. A world not of our choice. No, this will be a world of Alexis Swanson’s making, if he has his way.

I enjoy novels that grab the bad guy by the lapels and shake hard. In Dutton’s story, all the bad guys on all sides are having their lapels rumpled as the world heads down a dangerous path to face important questions and it is in urgent need of reasonable and rational answers.

The character of Anna Picard thrilled me. In the story we experience every emotion at every level. The Carbon Trap begins with a speech unspoken and ends with the finality of a thunderclap. Between the silenced speech and thunderous bang is a marathon run at a quickening pace. It never slows down. I only need to read a story once to get what I want as a reader. I read this one twice for the sheer pleasure of it ... and I will probably read it again, and again, and ...

Dutton digs into the ideas of global warming and its effects. The story looks at both sides of the argument and uses hard science to make its points. The arguments for and against are presented in well-written prose bearing plenty of detail. Detail that will have the reader quaking at the possibilities stated and the agendas exposed. This is not a book for the complacent among us, but it is a novel well tailored to those who have the blinders off, who don’t believe everything the government dishes out and who want to know the truth, no matter how much it hurts.

So, don your gas mask, settle back in your easy chair in your asbestos free home, and take a trip to the other side of life. This is chilling speculative fiction at its finest and, says Dutton, there will be others to fill out his series of nerve wrenching tales.

I liked this book for its bare bones reality and its solid science underpinnings. The descriptive narrative is superior and the dialogue is great and believable. You may also fall in love with Anna, as I did. What a gal ...! 4star—J. Richard Jacobs


Doctor Who, Season 7, Saturdays at 9/8C, BBC-America

“TO BE HONEST, having a new companion is more of a new beginning than the new Doctor.” That was Doctor Who’s Chief Writer/Executive Producer Steven Moffat back in 2010, in the run-up to Karen Gillan’s debut as Amy (aka Amelia) Pond, opposite Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. Moffat’s predecessor, Russell T. Davies, would probably agree, given how all-but-one of his full season debuts were hooked on the introduction of a new companion. So, it’s hardly surprising that Amy’s departure after two and a half years—along with onscreen boyfriend/husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)—was presented as a significant “conclusion,” even though a post-credits teaser reassuringly confirmed that the Doctor himself will be returning to our screens in time for Christmas.

So, despite Moffat’s much-broadcast announcement about him forsaking 2011’s “complicated” season-long story arcs in favour of a run of stand-alone “movie poster” stories, the growing emphasis on “the Ponds” during this autumnal run of five episodes (along with the online-streamed prequel “Pond Life”) reminded us again of Doctor Who’s own Rule One: “The Showrunner lies.” There’s no doubt that each of the episodes was a necessary narrative staging post in the story of why Amy chooses to leave the Doctor. (Rory—typically—doesn’t really have any say in the matter.)

While this undoubtedly helps give final episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” it’s full emotional punch, during the earlieDoctor Whor episodes it sometimes risks being a distraction from what Doctor Who supposedly does best—scary monsters and ultimately “safe” menace. For example, so much of Chris Chibnall’s “The Power of Three” was given over to the potential break-up of this particular regular cast—not least Amy’s suggestion to the Doctor that “the traveling is starting to feel like running away”—that the episode’s actual alien menace ended up being far-too-easily dismissed with little more than the wave of a sonic screwdriver—undercutting any tension experienced during the previous 40-odd minutes. That seems, at the very least, a waste of resources when your casting agent has managed to bag Steven Berkoff for the villain.

In other respects, however, these episodes certainly delivered on their “movie of the week” promise, not least when it came to outstanding visuals—from that massive Dalek statue looming over a ruined city on a rain-soaked Skaro to the quiet delight of Rory’s dad eating his sandwiches while seated at the TARDIS’ open doors, legs dangling over planet Earth spinning slowly below. Performances from both regular and guest casts were uniformly excellent, with lead Matt Smith in particular at times showing both restraint and authority in a role he’s now clearly well-settled into. Of course, the show continued to offer its distinctive range of stories; from the uninhibited action-romp that was Chibnall’s “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” to Toby Whithouse’s powerful morality tale, “A Town Called Mercy,” which was delightfully dressed up with every visual, thematic and musical Western cliché you could ever want.

And yet, what these episodes will ultimately be remembered for is the final adventures of the Ponds. Perhaps that’s only to be expected; after all, before Amy and Rory, you have to go back to the 1980s—and the Seventh Doctor and Ace—to find a TARDIS crew who stayed for more than one season/series on television. So, even though Doctor Who as a series has regular cast changes hard-wired into its DNA, it’s a relief that Moffat was able to deliver the level of “Event TV” that such a departure deserved. 4stars—Paul F. Cockburn


Fringe, Season 5, Fridays at 9/8C, FOX

WHAT CAN WE expect from rest of the fifth and final season of the Fox Fringe TV series?

Throughout the summer, we got bits and pieces of what the fifth and final season (of only 13 episodes) would look like. The Fringe panel at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) on July 12-15 this year gave a little insight as the cast and most notably J.H. Wyman (the producer) said the series would end on a good note. They would not leave loose ends and it was a “natural ending.”

Remember episode 19 from the fourth season, when we were introduced to the adult daughter of Peter and Olivia in “Letters of Transit?”

The fifth season premiere, “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11” began where that episode left off. In the year 2036 when the Fringe staff is revived from a 20 year sleep in amber and the Observers have taken over the world.

In this first episode of the new (last) season, there was a lot going on. The Fringe Team is brought from their 20 year sleep, Olivia was lFringe TVost, then found and revived. Walter was captured by Observers and subjected to a cerebral scan; one in which, I’m sure most who watched, thought it was the end of John Nobel’s character. But the Fringe Team busted in and saved him just in the nick of time.

In addition to all the great effects, there were some moments of high suspense and drama. We found out that the only good Observer, September (Michael Cerveris), had partitioned Walter’s brain with a plan on how to defeat the Observers.

This was the first episode in which former main cast member Seth Gabel did not appear because his character, Lincoln Lee, was written off at the end of season four. But guest star Georgina Haig as Peter and Olivia’s adult daughter “Etta” has returned.

At the end of the premier is one of the best scenes J.H. Wyman has produced in this series.

Walter tries to sleep but is distracted by reflections from outside. In sleepwear and robe, he traces the reflections to a sculpture made of broken CDs. Nearby he finds in a bag, an undamaged CD and plays it on a car stereo and begins crying as it plays Yazoo’s “Only You,” the first music he’s heard since waking in 2036. As he sits there, he spies a single dandelion, growing from the rubble, and continues crying.

The reflections could be interpreted as reflections of what Walter has lost. Not just the brain damage and the plan he believes he’ll never recover, but the loss of their former life. The dandelion moment encapsulates an idea of the future with perhaps a bit of foreshadowing. Despite obstacles the weed has pushed through barriers, as that shining beacon of hope in a gray world.

The series so far:

Episode two, “In Absentia,” opens with the team deciding to break into Walter’s old lab at Harvard, which has been taken over by the Observers. Inside the lab, Walter spies a video camera inside the ambered area and suspects he recorded part of his plan to beat the Observers on to the video.

Loyalist Gael Manfretti (Eric Lange) stumbles upon the team and is captured by Etta. Using the Observer Angel Device, which ages and causes intense pain to the subject, Etta interviews Gael. Olivia convinces him to cooperate in exchange for getting a message to his son.

Etta drives Gael to the resistance compound, but after he admits he lied to Olivia about having a son, she sets him free. He tells her he’s going to fight for the resistance, because there was something in Olvia that convinced him they could win.

Walter and Astrid finally retrieve the tape from the amber and begin watching the tape, which sets the scene for the rest of the series. The message is to find the rest of the tapes. Each has a part of the the plan that will destroy the Observers.

Then, in episode three, “The Recordist,” the Fringe team follow one of the taped instructions and make their way to a forested area in Pennsylvania. There they find a group of people infected with a calcification (due to changing atmosphere) and dedicated to recording human history.

They are able to recover rocks that will provide Walter with the energy needed for the rest of the plan to work.

Though the season has started out well, it almost feels as if this is a completely different Fringe. In the first four seasons we knew the Fringe team was fighting against the “Other side,” meaning the other universe. Walternate was the bad guy for most of that time and William Bell and Nina Sharpe’s mysterious and oh so secret dealings at Massive Dynamics had us wondering from one episode to the next whose side they were on.

The question on everyone’s mind at this point and an obvious (and deliberate?) omission by the producers is, what’s going on with the alternate universe? Why has no one mentioned it? It stands to reason from previous seasons that Walter and his crew could employ help from the other universe.

We do know from the promotional video of episode four, “The Bullet that Saved the World,” that in addition to being part of the resistance movement against the ruling authority, Walter has a plan to initiate their own Fringe cases for the Observers, and Peter will be captured.

The full cast of Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole and Blair Brown has come back, but the cast as of this writing is tight-lipped on whether everyone is going to survive the remaining episodes.

In a teaser interview with Marisa Roffman for “The Bullet that Saved the World,” J.H. Wyman implies that not everyone will survive. Personally, I can’t help but reflect on the season four warning by September to Olivia.“Olivia ... I came to tell you ... I have looked at all possible futures ... and in every one, the result is the same. You have to die.” 4stars—Carla R. Herrera


Looper, Directed by Rian Johnson, Sony Pictures Entertainment, R

WHEN DEALING WITH time-travel, keep in mind the following science axiom: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. For the purpose of this review, we’ll only deal with the first clause.

Many interpret the first clause to mean that time goes by swiftly akin to “It’s already five o’clock and I’m only half way through” or “Where have the years gone?” For the purpose of this review, we’ll deal with a different Looperinterpretation—like an arrow, time moves in a straight line—the Arrow of Time. That’s all, folks. There is no going backward in time. There is no going sideways in time. Time travel is not going to happen. Deal with it!

Because Perihelion is going to be widely read and discussed for generations, if time travel were to exist, surely someone would have come back and told me to not write this analysis. Because they didn’t, it doesn’t. Or perhaps they have better things to do. I also know about the outlier theorems saying that time-travel may be possible, but slowing down your personal time through acceleration while the universe inexorably continues to ‘creep in this petty pace’ is no more time-travel than cryogenics, and they don’t take you back. It may not be a tale told by an idiot, but I don’t want to get involved. Don’t write.

This takes Looper out of the realm of science fiction and into the realm of fantasy.  It does not mean that one cannot have fun watching a movie which has time-travel as a main feature. Suspend disbelief. Enjoy.

Now to the movie:

By now, you’ve probably read several reviews of the movie, analyses of the plot and examinations of the characters as well as discussed the incongruity of Joseph Gordon-Levitt aging into Bruce Willis. You’ve probably already seen the movie at least once. Therefore, there is no reason for me to compete with those who are better suited to write of these things other than to mention Schrödinger’s cat.*  Meow, or perhaps not.

That being said, Looper harks back to Robert A. Heinlein’s A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion which portrays the time traveler as an actor rather than merely an observer or accidental effector, but with even more angst. Paradoxes abound, and that’s to be expected, but I was particularly troubled by the incongruity of the altered body parts/condition of the future Seth due to changes in the present (or less future) Seth. If the changes had, indeed, been made to him in the present, the future Seth would not be in his current predicament or even in the physical state he enjoyed when he first made his appearance. (What would Einstein say?  Matter and all that.)

Then there’s the telekinesis. Don’t get me started.

Putting concerns with paradoxes aside leaves a lot more time for reveling in the action, and that’s what Bruce Willis films are about: lots of blood, but at least it wasn’t gratuitous. And so what if it was.

Pass the popcorn. 3stars—Allen M. Rolnick

* As Einstein wrote to Schrödinger in 1950, “You are the only contemporary physicist, besides Laue, who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality, if only one is honest. Most of them simply do not see what sort of risky game they are playing with reality—reality as something independent of what is experimentally established.”

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