People Are Alike All Over
Sam Conrad – Roddy McDowall
Marcusson – Paul Comi
Teenya – Susan Oliver
Martian #1 – Byron Morrow
Martian #2 – Vic Perrin
Martian #3 – Vernon Gray
Sam Conrad – Roddy McDowall
Marcusson – Paul Comi
Teenya – Susan Oliver
Martian #1 – Byron Morrow
Martian #2 – Vic Perrin
Martian #3 – Vernon Gray
The time is the day after tomorrow; the place- A far corner of the universe; The cast of characters – 3 men lost amongst the stars 3 men sharing the common urgency of all men lost – they’re looking for home. And in a moment, they’ll find home. Not a home that is a place to be seen but a strange, unexplainable experience to be felt.
We get more rocket shots and the guys sitting around a table doing important, rocket scienc-y stuff. They figure out they’re going through atmosphere and hope “this is it”. What ‘it’ they’re hoping it is has yet to be explained. They get on their landing love seat together for the landing. It doesn’t seem much safer than the chairs they were sitting in, there’s no straps or anything.
They land and check the gauges. The air quality is remarkably similar to Earth even though they’re 655 million miles away from Earth. Pete goes to pop on out but the captain stops him, saying the instruments could be wrong. Pee doesn’t care because they’re low on fuel and not going anywhere anyways. The Captain agrees with him. Uh, you may not be able to go anywhere but I’d still be hesitant to go to a horrible death if the instruments were wrong. Pete crosses his fingers for luck and they head out. Pete pokes his head out and asks again how far they are from Earth. The Captain answers again and then we get to see what Pete sees. It looks like they’re on Earth.
Pete thinks thy’re back on Earth because it looks like Earth. There’s a farm and a dog. Pete tries calling the dog but it doesn’t move. And I can’t stop giggling at their spacesuits. They’re like coveralls with weird band thingies around the arms, legs and neck. And bright silver moon boots. Pete says it’s a farm, ergo, it must be Earth. Apparently Pete’s not the shiniest of light bulbs. Pete looks at a tractor and asks what it is. Dark Haired Space Man says that it’s a tractor. He tells Pete that they were in use on Earth before the Total War. So, if Pete doesn’t know what a tractor is how on Earth (pardon the pun) does he know that this is what Earth looks like.
They see a gentleman dressed like a farmer and go over to introduce themselves. The Captain is Webber and the dark haired guy is Kurt. The farmer seems to be frozen in place (despite the fact that he’s swaying a bit). I can’t knock him too badly though, it’s hard to stand perfectly still. The little old farmer man scares the crap out of our brave, intrepid astronauts and they haul ass out of there.
After they’re done running like the big heroes they are they find a bridge. As they’re walking over Pete spots a guy fishing from the bank. Pete hops down and asks how the fish are biting. He gets much the same response from the fisherman that he got from the farmer. Pete shakes the fisherman and accidentally tips him over.
Pete hears a band start up in the distance and starts freaking out that somebody must be there! He hears a band! I’m shaking my head over the fact that they actually expect to find people there. They run toward the noise and find a band (who, again, haven’t stopped moving before the camera was on them) with the music being piped in from somewhere. They go into a house where they see a frozen crowd and a frozen Mayor accepting a win.
Kurt suggests that it could be an illusion and Webber chimes in with someone could be making them see the sights and sounds of home that they want to see. Then Webber says no, that doesn’t fit because the sights they are seeing are 200 years before their time. Then they throw around a couple of more theories including a time warp. They figure out that since the people are real (or at least feel real) then someone real must be there. That’s…a big leap in logic but ok. They decide to separate and have a look around. Ah, the start of many a good horror movie. Or Scooby Doo episode.
Webber wanders through a club and checks out a frozen high stakes poker game. Kurt wanders through a hotel called The Royal Crest. Now, if it were me it’d probably have some NSFW poses in there but that’s just me. Also for some reason I just noticed Kurt is the only thing with shiny cuffs on his wrists. Weird. He knocks on a door and then opens it. He quickly turns his head away quickly like there is something sexy going on. But to my dismay it’s just a romantic dinner and two people dancing. I will say that using real people instead of mannequins was a stroke of genius (or cheapness). They are freaking creepy. Pete fares a little better. He wanders into a beauty pageant. After creepily eyeballing all of the women in their bathing suits he starts freaking out and yelling at the audience and the ‘contestants’. Which (sorry but I have to point this out) the women are swaying like crazy. But, again, I give them props for even staying somewhat still as they’re all on heels. As Pete runs out, one of the audience members turns to watch, giving an uber-creepy smile.
They regroup and go walking down the sidewalk. Kurt chats a bit about how everything is the way it used to be. Pete can’t believe that he likes it and Kurt responds that he would if it were real. Pete says it’s a nice place to visit but he wouldn’t want to stay. Webber says tough because for now it’s home. They walk up the sidewalk of a very nice house thinking it’s going to be theirs.There’s a figure on the porch but they pay it no mind, assuming it’s just another frozen peoplesicle. Pete mockingly asks the gentleman on the rocker if he minds that they look around.
He surprises them and says, “Not at all”. They all look at him in googly eyed surprise. While they’re speechless in surprise he introduces himself as Mr. Jeremy Wickwire. He tells them there’s nothing to be afraid of and Pete makes the brilliant deduction, “You’re real!”
Wickwire agrees that he’s real and invites them inside. He asks them if they like the house and says it was originally built for a Mr. Peterson but at the last minute Mr. Peterson decided he wanted to be a knight so he’s in the medieval section, slaying a dragon. They’re surprised that there are other sections. Wickwire says that there are Roman, Egyptian and Wild Western areas but the fifties section is the most popular. Ok. I think I’d go for riding a dragon but that’s just me.
Anywho, he says this is the most popular because it represents the height of creature comforts and before peace became impossible on Earth. Hmm, I think I hear a little Serling sneaking in there. Also, this was before video games so the height of creature comforts is a little presumptuous.
Webber tells Wickwire that they’re from Earth on a geological mission. Webber tells him that they ran into a meteor storm that knocked out their electronic space stuff and they’ve been lost for 6 months. They landed there, they have no gas so they’re staying there. Wickwire says he understands now that they’re not from the Glades. They don’t get what he means now. Wickwire wants to know if they ever had that Atomic War on Earth. Kurt says that yes, they did in 1985. Wow, the writer wasn’t too hopeful for humanity there was he? Most of the Earth’s surface was destroyed and it’s taken them 200 years to get back to where they are now. So, 200 years after atomic war we’ve mastered space travel but not love seats?
The crew wants some answers about the asteroid they’re on and Wickwire says he’ll answer all of their questions but why not eat a bite of lunch first? Pete wants to know exactly where they are. Wickwire says, “Why, you’re in a cemetery! Didn’t you know?” As they looked a bit stunned Wickwire chuckles to himself and goes off to make lunch.
Wickwire brings back a tray with some glasses and proposes a toast, to peace. Everlasting, eternal peace. I don’t know about you guys but that’s a bit of a creepy toast. Ever the helpful one, Kurt takes the glasses and passes them around. They want to know exactly what Wickwire meant when he said it’s a cemetery. Wickwire says it’s exactly that. A cemetery. Before he answers any questions, Wickwire wants some information from them. He asks them what their dearest wish would be. Where they would rather be, right now? Webber says they’d like to be on the ship, heading home. Pete and Kurt agree. Wickwire wants to know what the date was when they left. Webber replies that it was September of 2185.
Wickwire tells them that at first he thought they were the men from Happy Glades. They want to know what that is and he replies that it’s the best mortuary on Earth. Or at least used to be. The manager of Happy Glades came up with the plan to offer this particular service to those who could afford it. The service being to recreate the situations under which the dearly departed would be happiest. Again, I would go for riding a dragon or something cool like that. The rest of the ‘people’ there are imitations to fill out the crowd. Pete asks if Wickwire expects them to believe that. Wickwire honestly never thought of that. Webber says he buys it but why a million miles from Earth. Why didn’t they do it on Earth, in a piece of desert or something? Webber would like to know why. Wickwire says that since Happy Glades promised Everlasting Peace (hmmm, why does that sound familiar?) and that would be quite impossible on Earth.
Petewants to know what Wickwire has to do with it. Wickwire says that he is the caretaker. Pete wants to know when Happy Glades was created and Wickwire replies that it was started in 1973. So now they’re wondering how old he is. Wickwire tells them he’s something like a machine. When people are there he turns on but as soon as they’re gone he’ll go back off again. He says he must have been off for about 200 years. For some reason this ticks Pete off and he starts charging toward Wickwire. Kurt holds him back though.
Webber tells Wickwire that they’re staying right there. Wickwire replies that he knows. Webber, Pete and Kurt are looking a little dizzy. Pete wants to know what he meant by ‘after they’re gone’ he’ll go back to sleep again. Wickwire tells them it was a figure of speech. Pete freaks out, saying that he told them they shouldn’t trust Wickwire. Which, I’ll point out, he never did. They start stumbling around and dropping. Kurt wants to know why, that they meant him no harm. Wickwire says he knows that and he’s really, really sorry. Webber begs Wickwire for the antidote. Wickwire says that there is no cure, the ‘Eternifying Fluid’ is already going to work. He promises them that it won’t be painful. Kurt wants to know why, why them? Wickwire says that “Because you are here and you are men and while there are men, there can be no peace.”
I get the (heavy-handed) point they’re trying to make but dude, it’s three guys on a deserted asteroid. Men who will grow old and die without procreating. So I really don’t think the murders were necessary. And yeah, I consider them murders since it was unprovoked and the ‘Eternifying’ solution technically kills them.
Our next shot is Wickwire dusting the spaceship and the men inside, frozen in their accustomed places. So, now I’m curious. Did they tell Wickwire where they usually sit or did he just place them randomly? And just happen to place them correctly?
Kirby, Webber and Meyers, 3 men lost. They shared a common wish, a simple one, really – They wanted to be aboard their ship, headed for home. And fate, a laughing fate, a practical jokester with a smile that stretched across the stars saw to it that they got their wish with just one reservation – the wish came true, but only in the Twilight Zone.
Not one of the best. Mostly because the ‘moral’ makes no sense. Three guys, no women around. Wickwire could have just let them live out their lives. I also wondered why there was food there at all? Of course, it never does show Wickwire serving them actual food, just the Eternifying liquid.
Thanks for joining us and come again next week for another episode: Mirror Image (it’s a good one).
Colonel Bob Donlin – Edward Binns
Corey – Dewey Martin
Pierson – Ted Otis
Trigger Warnings (highlight to see): Images of dead bodies (in the show and in this post), someone getting shot and a murder with a rock (offscreen)
William Sturka – Fritz Weaving
Eve Sturka – Lori March
Jody Sturka – Denise Alexander
Jerry Riden – Joe Maross
Ann Riden – Jeanne Evans
Carling – Edward Andrews
Narrator – Rod Serling
Title: Arkwright | Author: Allen Steele (site) | Publisher: Tor Books | Pub. Date: 2016-3-1 | Pages: 336 | ISBN13: 9780765382153 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library |
Nathan Arkwright is a seminal author of the twentieth century. At the end of his life, he becomes reclusive and cantankerous, refusing to appear before or interact with his legion of fans. Little did anyone know, Nathan was putting into motion his true, timeless legacy.
Convinced that humanity cannot survive on Earth, his Arkwright Foundation dedicates itself to creating a colony on an Earth-like planet several light years distant. Fueled by Nathan’s legacy, generations of Arkwrights are drawn together, and pulled apart, by the enormity of the task and weight of their name.
Arkwright was a beautifully written novel that instantly captivated me. It was a delight to read. When I was reading reviews for the novel, and saw that it had been called a “love letter to science fiction”, I rolled my eyes. But, you know what? It is. Arkwright is a glorious, tender look back at a pivotal time for the science fiction genre. It doesn’t make things out to be all sunshine and rainbows, but it gives a soft reflection on how things developed. Told in a way that mixes true facts with clever fiction, unless you’re a true science fiction aficionado, it’s hard to tell what’s what. It’s also a believable look into the future.
Arkwright addresses the ‘hard’ part of hard science fiction head on, without it getting boring. Many books today (including some great ones like The Last Day of Captain Lincoln) involve generation ships. But how realistic is that? Could we truly create a ship that would be able to protect enough humans to establish a colony? Not only protect it, but have enough space to grow food, to recycle oxygen, and find a way to produce more fuel? Is it possible? Well, yes, most anything is possible. but Arkwright looks at whether it’s a probable solution or not. According to Allen Steele, the answer is “No, it’s not.”
This is not an epic space opera about the lives of the people on board a ship. If you want that, then you need to go read Aurora or Seveneves. Instead, Arkwright is primarily about the people involved in bringing the ship to reality. The driving forces behind those who want to see humanity leave the planet and head for the stars. It’s very much about human interaction and the ‘minutiae’ of science. The unsexy things no one ever talks about in a science fiction survival story. The turnaround time for messages as things get further and further apart. The struggle to continue with a dream after the initial creators are long dead.
The low reviews I’d seen for this novel scared me off of it initially. I’m glad I saw it at the library and decided to give it a go though. Arkwright was a prime example of why you shouldn’t let reviews unduly influence you when it comes to reading choices. Where people called it slow / plodding, I found it perfectly paced to savor. I didn’t mind the fact that there wasn’t a lot of action involved. To me, Allen Steele gave me reality, with just a twist of fantastical at the end. And unlike many others, I rather enjoyed the science versus religion issue in Arkwright and how it was handled. Most likely this is because I’m not religious, but who can say?
Overall, I definitely enjoyed Arkwright and will be searching out further works from this author in the future. Sometimes I want epic journeys, mega disasters, and tons of action. Sometimes, though, I just want a quiet, realistic read about the future that doesn’t manage to depress me.