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Posthuman Planetary Romance

image by Veronica V. Jones

Outcasts Provides a Bumpy Ride to Salvation

A transport ship with Carpathia and one of its moons. Liam Cunningham as President Tate. Langley Kirkwood as the AC leader Rudi.

Science fiction serves us best when it explores our hopes and fears for our very survival as a species. Interpersonal clashes and challenging environments are key components to nearly every story ever told, but in science fiction, the stakes are always higher. One such high-stakes tale premiers this Saturday on BBC America: Outcasts.

Set entirely on an Earth-like planet named Carpathia, the story documents the struggles of humanity’s last survivors amongst themselves, artificially bred AC’s and perhaps the planet itself. The ramshackle town of Fort Haven collects the last vestiges of a ruined Earth’s population, and they anxiously await additional transports from their distant home as they explore and improve their new home. One such ship nears the outpost in the first episode, but the colonist’s joy is muted by a domestic assault and dangerous manhunt.

Even having never watched the Battlestar Galactica reboot, it’s influence can easily be seen in the somber, downtrodden atmosphere. Only after several episodes perhaps overly burdened with world building and character introduction does the story of mankind’s last hope for survival get fully into gear.

Grappling with the weighty philosophical themes of redemption and humanity while offering a solid action adventure is a Herculean task, and the writers and actors grow progressively better with this balance as the series progresses. Sadly, however, the BBC has said this first season of Outcasts will also be its last.

We offer one bright ray of hope, however, for those who come to appreciate this slightly eccentric, thoroughly postmodern, even posthuman parable: series creator Ben Richards suggests that Outcasts may continue in novel form.

Let us hope Mr Richards follows through. While the eight-episode arc answers many questions about the Carpathian landscape, many more answers are still in order.

Written by in June of 2011. Last edited September 2014.

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