Posts tagged Prometheus
We’re back! A little downtime over the holidays, and Martian Migraine Press is ready for the new year. We’ve a lot of bizarre, unwieldy plans for 2013: actual book launches in August, tasty print runs, and various author promos throughout the year. Our authors have strange things in the offing, as well. More details as they rise to the level of conscious awareness, of course, but for now, how about a sneak preview of Justine G‘s freaky new sci-fi erotica short, due out by the end of this month? Folks, it’s called ORGY IN THE VALLEY OF THE LUST LARVAE, and we can say with some confidence that if you found Ridley Scott’s Prometheus more arousing than terrifying (or amusing!) then you are gonna get a kick out of this book! Here’s the clip, from Chapter 1 THE EMERGENCY: enjoy!
>> class designate: Garuda / VEIL OF ISHTAR
>> psychometric log / Capt. Martina Hale
>> narrative-bleed meta-filter engaged
>> tag[s]: #personal #crew[all] #LV-616 #emergency
>> entry data-stamp 12.22.67.0023‡001
We were on our third day of low-orbital scans of LV-616 when a rogue meteor tore through the aft hull. By the worst kind of luck, the plasma shielding over that section was down for routine maintenance. The damn chunk of space rock was so small and came in at such speed, that Mai-Yin’s scans didn’t pick it up until it was half a click away, far too late for us to manouveur to safety. The strike effectively destroyed the algae stim-banks, bringing our life-systems perilously close to shut down. The ship’s emergency protocols kicked in within seconds, of course, sealing the breach with foam, and Rupal, Eris, and Link were quick to re-initialize the plasma shielding, but the damage had been done. With the stim-banks at 13% efficiency, the Veil of Ishtar was running out of air for the seven breathing souls aboard.
I ordered Danicka to muster the crew in the ready room. We needed to discuss our options. I took my seat and liquified a cube of scotch into a tumbler while I waited. It wasn’t a long wait; Danicka North is an exemplary officer and a fine First Mate. The crew respect and like her, and they were soon filing their way into the room, apprehensive looks on their faces. We were thirty-three light years and change away from Earth and the situation was dire, so I allowed for some natural distress on their part; crisis will do that to a person. I appraised each of my people as they took their seats, gauging their emotions and state-of-mind…
Danicka I had no worries about whatsoever. She’s from pragmatic Scandinavian stock, and she carries herself with a calm assurance. Her shoulder length blonde hair was done up in a tight bun and her broad cheeks were flushed. Danicka lives for moments like this. I watched her chewing her full bottom lip in excitement as she concentrated on the holo screens in the air above the ready room table. With agile, practiced finger strokes, she moved data-clusters around in the glowing field and then glanced at me, her blue eyes flashing in readiness.
Prelim reports are coming in, Captain, she said. Scans aren’t great, but they’ll do for now.
I nodded and rewarded her with a small smile.
My pilot and navigatrix Mai-Yin Gallagher entered next, her pixie-cut blue-black hair slicing across her attractive, lightly freckled face and her lithe shoulders already tense, every movement of her slim frame betraying frustration and anger. Mai-Yin was literally the top of her class at the NakamuraCorp lunar pilot training facility, so I could understand her disappointment in herself. Even so, with emergencies like this one, there’s little she or anyone could have done, and I would have preferred her to be a little easier on herself, but the unforgiving work ethic of her Chinese mother and the lyrical, fiery temper of her Irish father makes for a potent character that’s not easily soothed…
Everyone has a first time, Gallagher, I said.
Mai-Yin huffed and sat down, crossing her arms. I know. I just feel so violated, Captain. It came out of nowhere.
That’s how the Universe likes us: with our head down and our ass in the air. Makes us easier to fuck. Consider us very lucky today. We’re all still breathing.
Yes, but not for very much longer, Captain, said Eris Mons as zhe entered. You’ve seen the extent of the damage to the stim-banks? There’s a potential for a cascade-failure if we don’t…
I cut hir off with a sharp gesture. Yes, I’ve seen them. That’s why we’re here, Mons. Take a seat. Eris is our medic and life-systems tech and hir single-minded focus on hir tasks, while valuable, can sometimes make hir hard to deal with. Eris has an uncommon beauty; hir angular boyish figure and bald head accentuate hir striking features and hir large, violet eyes have a peculiar intensity that make hir difficult to approach. That, and hir status as a -Non, make hir a prickly conquest for the other crew, though I know a few have tried. Lately zhe’d been figuring in some of my more arousing dreams; perhaps I’d try for hir myself.
Iliana Tolstoy followed Eris, the blaze of her russet curls catching the overhead lights and her full, oceanic curves filling the doorway in a marked contrast to the gender-neutral -Non. Our communications specialist, Iliana loves to broadcast her state-of-being at all times, and every information-rich signal coming off her was of the just-been-fucked variety. She practically purred as she lowered herself into her seat. To my left, Danicka smirked…
Did our looming crisis interrupt something, Iliana?
Oh, just the usual…
At which point, “the usual” angled his wide shoulders through the doorway, a grin on his broad brawler’s face. Enter our maintenance tech, Seth Lincoln…
Yeah, and lemme tell ya, the existential dilemma I faced… hoo! Fucking harsh! Put yourself in my place, North! Do I run off to Engineering with the skinny brown nerd and the lady-thing and save the ship? Or die happy with my well-reputed cock sweet-deep in Ms Tolstoy here? It was a close thing.
Oh god! Some decorum, please! Danicka snapped.
Haw! You’re just jealous.
And you’re a racist throwback hillbilly goon, Link. Rupal Hanumansing, the “brown nerd” and our engineer, entered behind him. How your clan ever made it through to the 23rd Century with the rest of us, I will never know. Rupal clapped Link on the back with a fine-boned hand.
By stickin’ it to everything in sight, naturally! Fill enough wells with your steaming gene-juice and something’s bound to crawl up outta one of ‘em someday. It’s a cherished Appalachian folk-way and I’ll ask you to show the proper respect! Link threw an arm over Rupal’s neck and brought his thick knuckles to bear on his close-cropped black hair.
Well, I, for one, am glad of your ancestor’s abominable sexual practices, Rupal grunted as his scalp endured the friendly assault. Without your skills, I would have been hard-pressed to save us. You as well, Eris. Thank you.
Eris smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as Danicka leaned across the table and hissed at Iliana…
Girl, how can you stand him?
Iliana laughed. Are you for serious? Have you seen his pylon, little syestra? It is, oh, what is the word…?
Alright! I barked. That’s enough for now, people. You know I like a relaxed ship but we’ve got a situation, so let’s tighten up. Eris, how many hours of air do we have?
With full crew, maybe three. Certainly not more than four hours.
Rupal, can you make the repairs on your own?
Well… Rupal ran long fingers through his hair and fixed his deep brown eyes on mine. I could activate a couple of cLON units, slave them to my neural net, send them outside for most of the hull repair, yes. And Eris has briefed me on replacing the algae-packs in the stim-banks. I mean, it would take a while…
Gimme an estimate.
Sixteen hours, Captain? I could do it in sixteen.
I glanced at Eris. If we all go planet-side, will that give him enough air, Mons?
More than enough, Captain. Weeks, in fact.
I pointed at Rupal. Don’t take that long, but do take your time. Do it right. I think twenty-four hours is reasonable. Rupal nodded his head, already keying data into his portable. And the rest of you? I looked around the table at my able, handpicked (and therefore ridiculously attractive) crew. Report to the pod bay in fifteen minutes. We’re going exploring.
I rose from my seat and made for the door. Link grinned like the goat he was. Four women, a -Non, and one jacked-up hillbilly on a virgin planetoid? Now this is what I signed up for!
I smacked the tech on his thick noggin, even as I hid a smile. Stow it, Lincoln!
Beggin’ the captain’s pardon, but I’d happily stow it anywhere she chose! Ow!
It was Iliana who slapped him then, as the rest of the team laughed.
Fifteen, people! Two to a pod: Danicka and Seth, Iliana and Mai-Yin. Eris, you’re with me. Let’s go.
By now, many thousand reviews for Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus (a sort-of prequel to his original Alien outing) have been logged into the overmind/undersoul of this here internet thing, and, from what I’m able to tell from a couple hours of perusal, a sizable chunk of that data-mass is generally negative, citing everything from sloppy characterization to poorly realized motivations to weak plotting. All agree that Prometheus is shiny and generally amazing looking and that the film is worth seeing for Fassbender’s portrayal of the android David alone, but a very common theme in reviews so far is the this-wasn’t-scary-due-to-predictability, coupled with the these-characters-are-all-idiots complaint.
Valid concerns, yes, and I can see where they come from, but I rather think that Scott has placed a red herring in the path of the viewer with the very title of the film. The god-form being invoked in this movie is not Prometheus at all.
It is Pan. And, more specifically, the Pan of Arthur Machen’s classic horror novel The Great God Pan.
This review, then, is not so much a here’s-what-happens-in-the-film and here’s-why-it’s-bad/good (because there’s been plenty of that already) but a defense of some of the decisions regarding characterization and plotting.
Because when Pan is invoked, you can expect some fairly wacky behaviour on the part of humans. Wacky, yet completely predictable behaviour.
Yes, the Promethean ideal is the surface gloss of the film. You have the Engineers, who, in the opening scenes, are seen to ritually sacrifice themselves in order to unknit their genetic structure and seed planets with life. The Weyland Corporation luxury starship that makes its way to LV-223 is named Prometheus, even, a choice that reflects the hubris of head honcho Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), while the search for the Engineers itself is an attempt to steal fire from the gods, fire in this case being the secret of triumph over death, itself a laughable concept loaded with hubris. Grand, high ideals! The big questions! Epic in scale! Worthy of the best of us!
So why, once the Prometheus touches down on the planet, does everyone on board (a mix of presumably intelligent scientists, cold calculating suits, and space-hardened star-jockeys, a microcosm of all that is logical and reasonable in our society) start running around like stupid, cliché-riddled monkeys with shit in their jumpsuits?
Because they are humans that have returned to the primal source of life. They have come face-to-face with the black ooze from which we sprang, the inchoate and frothing base nature of Nature itself. When we enter into Pan’s domain, that wild and primal sphere where death and life are intimately linked, where the one follows upon the other with alarming speed and no regard for such high-minded concepts as the soul or individuality, where from corruption horrid life springs to deal out death, well, in that domain we are psychically and physically unmade. Pan grips our hearts with whatever appendage it has available, be it tentacle or claw or teeth or all of the above, and the result is, predictably, naturally, and inevitably… panic. The wild god Pan is invoked and in his malign aspect (hell, even in his benign aspect!) he is dangerous and crazy-making.
Note the supreme panoramic wildness of Prometheus. This may be a science-fiction film, but it does not depict the future, instead showing us the deep past, the Night of First Ages. The sacred chaos of a Pan-infused environment. Encountering a mountain that dwarfs the Martian Olympus Mons would be debilitating enough to a human mind nurtured on the small scales of Earth; take that and then factor in an encounter with the gods, actual gods, Titans, our creators and the horrific formless spawn that is also their handiwork or their error or both (but in either case, our siblings!), and you have a situation tailor-made to unhinge even the most hardened and rational human being.
One of my favourite tweets seen in the wake of Prometheus’ release was: “Imagine if Buzz Aldrin had exited the lander and ran away giggling and farting. That’s every character in Prometheus”. Hilarious, sure, and it speaks to our perception that every space-faring human critter from the future needs to be a hard-ass action-hero archetype with a steel-trap mind and a ready quip for when the chips are down.
Fact is, we aren’t like that.
We would certainly like to think so, and we expect as much from our heroes, and will likely build such qualities into our mechanical replacements (with interesting and probably nasty results) but at the end of the day, the body-horror of what we are at a cellular level, this fragile genetic foam briefly given outlines and structure by flukes of environment and evolution, puts the lie to any delusions of grandeur we may have as a species. Our individuality is nothing. Our minds are ephemeral, epigenetic. Pan lives through us and will live beyond us; life will chew us up and move on to its next, more efficient expression.
Can you tell I found Prometheus profoundly disturbing? Yes, predictable, but I found such predictability to be utterly natural, given the circumstances. Of course Millburn the giggling biologist (Rafe Spall) is going to play kissy-face with the cobra-tentacle that rises from the muck! Of course Logan Marshall-Green’s archaeologist is going to hide his sickness, the deep genetic taint that Fassbender’s David introduced into his drink. When a wisp of your viscous eye-meat flails a tiny tentacle at your reflection, you see a fucking doctor, sir! A rational man gets help. But these are not rational men and women. These are people in the grip of Pan.
And how about that toast? “Here’s mud in your eye!” is completely resonant with the themes of the film: your vision will be changed, darkened, regressed. You will see and act as your evolutionary forebears did. You will scream and claw and lose your mind. Here’s mud in your eye, indeed.
A few years back, here in Canada, in the middle of the night on a Greyhound bus somewhere out in the middle of the black prairie, a passenger, no doubt out of his mind on PCP and god-knows-what, with no warning and completely out-of-the-blue, successfully beheaded another passenger with a Bowie knife. Years later, I was discussing this event with a co-worker, and she made the claim that, had she been on that bus, she “would have done something about it.” This is rational mind speaking, this is action-hero speaking; she had some martial arts training, which I think is suggestive. The truth is, Pan descended in all his chaotic glory on that bus, and every last person exited with extreme haste, locking the doors behind them. There were no heroes in the face of sudden, abject horror; there was only the completely predictable, utterly cliché, panicked response of organisms in peril.
Which is why Prometheus works for me. While a good portion of the audience, if the reviews are to be believed, sat safely behind their jaded psychic screens built from years of exposure to unreasonably competent sci-fi heroes, from the original Alien’s Ripley to the goddamn Master Chief, I dropped all pretension to being a rational critter, and descended into the black muck of my own incarnation. I allowed myself to feel the shit moving through my guts, the blood in my temples, the stick and clam of my sweat and saliva, the grinding of tooth on tooth, and when in a near-ecstasy of fear, of panic, my hands instinctively shot up to protect the back of my neck, I did nothing to stop them.
I’m sure I looked like an idiot to any scoffers in the seats behind me, but my neck needed protecting, see? It’s where I keep my important wires.
I think Prometheus will gain a following, as more and more viewers figure out what Ridley Scott has done here. It is a brilliant, and harrowing film.