If you watch as many science documentaries as I do — mostly about dinosaurs and space — then you probably know that despite what most science fiction tells us (even “hard sci-fi,” Roman), it’s all a bit fantastical in terms of galactic (and especially universal) expoloration, colonization, and domination. Mainly, the practically dragon-sized bullsh comes in the form of Faster Than Light Travel, like the warp drives in “Star Trek” or the hyper drive in Star Wars, that posit humanity will eventually be able to literally travel faster than the speed of light — or faster than 299,792,458 m/s (that’s 186,282 miles per second for us backassward Americans, thanks Wikipedia!), thus allowing our species to move beyond our solar system and stave off eventual, inevtiable extinction. Like time travel, allowing for the possibility makes for some excellent drama, and while there are theories and formulas that seem to indicate FTL probability, the actual possibility is much closer to zero. But that’s less fun to think about.
Or is it? Take the planet that NASA’s Kepler space station recently discovered, Kepler-22b, which is merely 600 light-years away from Earth. Our galaxy is over 200,000 light-years across, so 600 light-years is a relatively short distance as far as our The Milky Way is concerned. But that means even if we do find evidence of water or life there, and the world’s best scientists create some sort of lightspeed (or, C) technology by the end of next year, it would still take 600 years for us to travel there. We could send some sort of radio signal to there, but even at C, it would take 1200 years before we ever got a response — and that’s assuming the inhabitants of Kepler-22b will be able to even send a message of their own. Discovering a possible Earth-like, habitable extra-solar planet is indeed exciting, but it’s rather moot for now, and kind of deflates the idea of a sci-fi story utilizing non-FTL technology. After all, that would be one helluva long movie.
But two independent filmmakers are going to attempt just that in C, a short film about one spaceship’s flight officer trying a last ditch attempt to save humanity by taking a one-way voyage to the stars in the hopes of finding new home for her species. As she says in the below trailer, the length of the trip won’t matter as long as she and her shipmates are successful in the end. Naturally, not every member of her crew is looking forward to certain death, so complications undoubtedly arise. But writers/directors Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier are doubling down on their movie’s premise by mimicking the stripped-down tech approach by only using in-camera, practical effects, and no fancy schmancy digitial trickery. No greenscreen, and no CGI. If you thought Duncan Jones’ excellent Moon (my favorite movie of 2010) harkened back to sci-fi’s filmic golden age of the 1970s, then you haven’t seen anything, yet, space cowboy (or cowgirl).
Here’s the fairly bare bones, but incredibly effective trailer:
Looks pretty good, huh? There’s only one problem: C still hasn’t been made. In fact, this trailer was produced entirely for Van Gorder’s and Stockmeier’s Kickstarter campaign, which reached its $18,628 goal as of last night (likely helped by [hat tip] Topless Robot’s original post). That’s not a lot of money, and I’ve seen artists asking for twice as much to produce their own graphic novels, which, I can promise you, doesn’t cost nearly that much money to produce. But with a lot of effort and a little help from friends willing to work mostly pro bono, it definitely seems feasible. Though the filmmakers aren’t asking for more money, if you’re as interested in seeing the final project as I am, you might still be able to donate whatever you think is fair until the deadline 16 days from now.
We could consider it penance for bankrolling all those Transformers movies so many of us seem not to get enough of. Though, I’ve only seen two, so my guilt is merely 2/3 some of yours. If the trailer above isn’t good enough for you, the Kickstarter page has a fun and (and I believe) faux documentary trailer for a Carl Sagan-ish mini-series called “Beyond The Infinite” that looks like it might go into the science behind the space travel in C. And the title of that, I’m fairly certain, is a reference to Douglas Trumbull’s making-of doc about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is the poster mock-up for the doc:
I’m already a fan.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here. He’s going to consider his Kickstarter pledge the charitable gift his excessively liberal aunt asked each member of his family to donate in lieu of buying each other Christmas presents.