Revisiting Caprica

caprica-zoeBattlestar Galactica was an undeniably great series. Both the original and reimagined series pushed television bringing cinematic action to the small screen (like anyone actually has a small screen anymore).

I’m thinking of the newer series here though. Yet, even with all the spectacle of space battles and political twists, it was still an intelligent series bringing up ideas of genocide, just and unjust war, democracy vs benevolent dictatorship, asymmetrical warfare, identity, cloning …

But, when it was all over, a second series appeared quietly to look at the origin of the cylons back in the colonies many years before the attacks. It could easily have been the Episodes i – III disaster of Star Wars, but instead, it was a remarkably well imagined back story. (General) William Adama appears as a young second generation immigrant from Tauron. His father and uncle still hold closely to the pride and rituals of Taurons, whom we learn are of second (or maybe even third) class status on Caprica. However, Adama is not the center of this story, instead it is his father and a high flying capitalist, Daniel Gladstone, who works for a technology company developing virtual world simulations care of ‘holobands’ – which are sort of like Google glass, except for its totally awesome – for the public and military hardware for the government. Among these military projects are Cybernetic Life-Form Nodes, or Cylons, which should work, but lack a ‘spark.’

Not to get lost in the story, but that spark comes from a combination of Dr. Gladstone’s daughter, Zoe, her software ingenuity, and a link between the real world and the virtual world of the holobands.

More importantly, or at least more interestingly, Caprica tackles ideas as basic as…

The basis of morality (the idea of one truth coming from one true god is considered heresy in a world of many gods supporting an ethic of diversity).

Freedom of religion and speech.

Marriages can be single or group marriages which give a feeling of commune households operating within society.

Identity is one of the central ideas that Caprica explores, asking whether a complete replica of a person (body and mind) actually is the original person or something else. This idea becomes especially salient after the original person dies, leaving only the copy.  What is a soul?

What is the nature of the parent / child relationship? Who ‘owns’ the child? Who can make decisions on your behalf?

Ethnicity is yet another facet of the diversity of the twelve colonies that explores the tension that occurs when a population tries to both assimilate and retain its cultural identity. Prejudice. Racism.

Caprica deals with many of these issues in blunt terms and very seriously. And, despite being a world that is science fiction, it is quite realistic and believable lending gravitas to the questions it raises.



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