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Low-Yield Hot Take: Blade Runner’s Nuclear Plot Lost Like Tears in Fallout

1280_ryan_gosling_blade_runner_2049In Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, that forms the basis of the 1982 movie, a nuclear “World War Terminus” was responsible for post-apocalyptic San Francisco.

This is the reason why most animals are dead and humans use bioengineering and cloning to create artificial animals like snakes and robot cats. Radiation and nuclear war is also a motivation for people to move off-world (that and the fact each person who does gets their own replicant butler).

The 1982 movie doesn’t mention nuclear war as far as I can tell, but these plot devices of off-world colonies and artificial animals remain as holder overs. When I watch Blade Runner 2049 tomorrow at theNational Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution IMAX theater, I will keep an eye out for nuclear plot points.

Second Strike 01 – Bonus Content (Twilight Zone – The Shelter)

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Second Strike is bonus content for the Super Critical Podcast that did not survive the first round of edits but is still more than ready to deliver an assured response.

This Second Strike is taken from podcast episode #14 where we discussed The Twilight Zone’s “The Shelter” (1962). Tim and Joel debate whether the TV episode is more like Cloverfield or The Dark Knight.

Death Stars: The Ultimate WMD

 

I (Tim) wrote an article for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (the keepers of the Doomsday Clock!) about the appropriation of nuclear weapon imagery and themes in Rogue One and Star Wars. I am talking about the Death Star, of course.

Here is a highlight:

The central plot of Rogue One involves our heroes stealing the blueprints to a new secret weapon of the evil Galactic Empire: the Death Star, a moon-sized, space-based battle station equipped with a laser capable of destroying an entire planet in a single stroke. There is hope that the plans could hold the key to finding a weakness in the station that could be exploited by the Rebellion to start a “chain reaction” and put an end to the weapon.

The Death Star, in Star Wars generally and particularly in Rogue One, serves as a stand-in for the nuclear weapons arsenal with all the accompanying nuclear imagery, deterrence theory, and dangers shown to the audience. Rogue One deploys the Death Star as a visual, technical, and thematic stand-in for thermonuclear weapons.

To read the full article, click here. Joel and I also did a podcast episode on this idea, which you can listen to by clicking here or on iTunes, GooglePlay Music, etc. Enjoy!

Why Matt Damon is Not a Space Pirate…Just a Space Felon

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Our latest podcast episode on the nuclear nonsense in The Martian (2015) has space/maritime law guru Chris Mirasola get super critical about why Matt Damon might not actually be a space pirate.

Here is a great write-up of his argument:

“I love The Martian. However, until they find a way to introduce water to the surface of Mars we aren’t going to be getting any space pirates.

In the 1980s, the international community signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Think of it like the world’s constitution for the oceans. UNCLOS (as it’s called for short) outlines rules applicable to different maritime zones extending from a country’s coastline. All of these zones are explicitly defined as zones ‘in the sea.’

So The Martian made two interpretive errors here when it claimed that mars is international waters: 1) it mistakenly used rules that apply only to maritime zones to a place (Mars) where there is no marine environment, and 2) it overlooked the fact that UNCLOS rules are defined with reference to maritime zones extending from a country’s coast. No countries, no maritime zones.

Our Martian should have instead looked to the Outer Space Treaty for the applicable international rules. The movie is correct that countries cannot be sovereign over any extraterrestrial body. And countries retain jurisdiction over all their objects in space (it doesn’t matter that NASA is nonmilitary).

So the question becomes whether, for the purposes of U.S. domestic law, Mark Whatley (Matt Damon’s character) is illegally commandeering a vessel when he steps into the ARES 4 MAV without first getting permission from NASA. This might be true, though the Outer Space Treaty provides that all countries should give all feasible assistance to astronauts in distress. But even if he was violating U.S. law it would only make him a space felon — not a space pirate.

And while Matt Damon’s activity might violate NASA regulations, I’m guessing they wouldn’t be bringing disciplinary action anytime soon.”

Listen to the full Mini-Nuke Episode by clicking here.