SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): Lost, Torchwood and Jericho Head Towards Finales; Hugo Nominees Announced

It is certainly a relief that the writer’s strike ended and Lost didn’t end the season with Meet Kevin Johnson. Seeing Michael’s story after leaving the island was probably the least interesting of the episodes this season. We did learn a couple of things. The island was capable of keeping Michael from committing suicide even after leaving as there were still things for him to do (unless he just got lucky in the auto accident and Tom told him this hoping it might dissuade Michael from trying again.) For the moment I’ll accept Tom’s claim considering that we also saw Jack’s suicide attempt get interrupted. Besides probably verifying the supernatural nature of the island, seeing Tom also provided further evidence that the Others can come and go from the island. This still leaves the question as to why Ben did not seek medical attention for his tumor off the island.

One mystery that was definitely settled was the identities of the Oceanic Six. The promos for the episodes after Lost returns from hiatus did reveal that Aaron is one of them. I bet that the producers purposely spread information that Aaron wasn’t one of them so that we wouldn’t know that it wasn’t possible for both Jin and Sun to have returned home.

We might have received a little information with regards to other mysteries which are to be revealed later this season. While far from certain, the top theory right now as to who is in the casket in last season’s finale has to be Michael. Once he returns home on the freighter he presumably will be able to commit suicide without interference from the island as his work will have been completed. That assumes that he survives after Sayid has exposed him to Captain Gault.

The bigger mysteries regard Widmore’s reasons for sending the freighter, whether he really intends to kill those on the island, and who really set up the faked Oceanic 815 on the bottom of the ocean also remain. While we’ve heard characters make claims as to what is going on, I don’t think we can trust what anyone says regarding this until more answers are revealed at the end of the season.

Torchwood aired Something Borrowed, featuring Gwen’s wedding on BBC America. Three additional episodes have aired on the BBC. From Out of the Rain is pretty much a stand alone episode, but it does briefly mention Jack’s past. It was an ok episode, but the two following it were much better. Adrift (picture above) shows more of what the rift has done, as well as how Jack has responded. There’s also a game of naked hide and seek. (Jack cheats.)

Fragments, the second from last episode of the season, is particularly worth looking forward to (or downloading) as it reveals how everyone got involved with Torchwood, even Jack. Torchwood as portrayed on Torchwood has always differed from how portrayed on Doctor Who, and this episode attempts to reconcile this by making reference to the destroyed Torchwood London as a different organization. This still does not account for all the discrepancies between Doctor Who and Torchwood but nobody expects either show to be entirely realistic.

Jericho is heading towards a civil war, but it will have to be wrapped up quickly. The show has been canceled and therefore they will be going with the finale which (hopefully) wraps things up. After the show was canceled last season fans grabbed on to a line about nuts in the finale and convinced CBS to give the show another shot by sending in tons of nuts. This time I wonder if CBS executives are insisting that the finale involve silver dollars, Cuban cigars, or perhaps crates of Dom Perignon.

Besides Jericho, it is now official that The Bionic Woman will not return. While not definite, chances are looking good for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to be renewed. SciFi Channel has also given the go ahead to the pilot for Caprica, the prequel series to Battlestar Galactica, which returns on April 4. Doctor Who will be returning to the BBC on April 5, with shows being broadcast in the U.S. on the SciFi channel beginning April 18. The SciFi Channel will also begin airing The Sarah Jane Adventures on April 11.

The Hugo Award nominees have been announced. Here’s a partial list:

Best Novel: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon, Brasyl by Ian McDonald, Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer, The Last Colony by John Scalzi, Halting State by Charles Stross

Best Novella: “Fountains of Age” by Nancy Kress, “Recovering Apollo 8” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “Stars Seen Through Stone” by Lucius Shepard, “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis, “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe

Best Novelette: “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairytale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang, “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan, “Glory” by Greg Egan, “Finisterra” by David Moles

Best Short Story: “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter, “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod, “Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick, “A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick

Best Related Book: The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer; Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry Malzberg; Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz; Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher; The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Enchanted; The Golden Compass; Heroes, season one; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Stardust

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Battlestar Galactica: Razor; Dr. Who, “Blink”; Dr. Who, “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood”; Star Trek New Voyages, “World Enough and Time”; Torchwood, “Captain Jack Harkness”

I’ve previously discussed some of the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form including Blink, Human Nature, Family of Blood, Razor, and Captain Jack Harkness. I’d give the award to Blink, but the other nominee from Doctor Who comes very close.

Quote of the Day: Hagee on McCain

“It’s true that McCain’s campaign sought my endorsement.”
–Rev. John Hagee in an interview in The New York Times Magazine

(I found this notable because after I had posted about Obama rejecting the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan and criticized McCain’s ties to Hagee I’ve had Republicans claim I was being unfair to McCain as he had rejected Hagee’s views in the same manner that Obama rejected Farrahkan’s views. That argument is clearly untrue.)

Clinton vs McCain Would Not Be A Choice Worth Voting On

Josh Marshall has posted a number of emails from supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who say they will not vote for the other should they win the nomination. He has given this response to the question of not voting for the opposing candidate:

Whichever you prefer, they’re actually very different candidates. What I am saying is that no one can run away from the choice every American with the franchise will face in November. The next president will either be John McCain or the Democratic nominee. That’s an immovable fact. Not voting or voting for some protest candidate doesn’t allow anyone to wash their hands of that choice.

Now one reader, TPM Reader KK, wrote in and said that he supports Obama, isn’t a Democrat, actually doesn’t agree with a number of Obama’s policy positions but believes he could change the tenor of politics in the country and through his election help shift the rest of the world’s view of the US. For KK, if Obama doesn’t win the nomination, I guess there really might not be any particular reason he’d vote for Clinton over McCain.

But I do not believe this is the case with the great, great majority of readers of TPM who are supporting either of these two candidates. I think most are Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents who ascribe to a series of policies now generally adhered to by members of the Democratic party. People for whom that applies have to decide whether the alleged transgressions of either candidate or their differences in tone, political style and so forth are so grave and substantial that they merit electing John McCain who stands on the other side of basically all of those issues.

This analysis might be true of readers of Talking Points Memo and the average reader of liberal political blogs. What must be remembered is that people with such views make up a minority of the electorate, and certainly does not include me.

Some people will vote for who ever has a “D” after their name, and in such cases it would make sense to assume they will vote for either Obama or Clinton regardless of who receives the nomination. This may also be true of some “Democrat-leaning independents” but not all of us independents.

When I vote for a Democratic candidate it is because I hope they will support certain positions. I support Democratic candidates because of opposition to the war, but Clinton was not only a backer of the war but has repeatedly pandered to fears of terrorism to both defend her support for the war and to attempt to promote her campaign. I do not believe that Hillary Clinton would get us out of Iraq one day before John McCain would, and I certainly do not believe she would be any less likely to get us involved in any other unnecessary wars. At least McCain has stood behind his beliefs, even when unpopular, as opposed to trying to rewrite history with regards to her position.

I also will vote for Democratic candidates if I believe they will be defenders of civil liberties, reducing presidential power, and defenders of separation of church and state. Hillary Clinton has terrible records on all of these issues as I’ve discussed in multiple previous posts such as here. With regards to the issues which most matter to me there is very little difference between Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Both represent continuation of the status quo.

Josh gets it wrong in an earlier post when he argues, “But to threaten either to sit the election or vote for McCain or vote for Nader if your candidate doesn’t win the nomination shows as clearly as anything that one’s ego-investment in one’s candidate far outstrips one’s interest in public policy and governance. If this really is one’s position after calm second-thought, I see no other way to describe it.”

This has nothing to do with “ego-investment” in any one candidate. I probably will not vote for Hillary Clinton because of my interest in public policy, not because of investment in any other candidate.Barack Obama is an acceptable candidate on the issues and and I will vote for him. There were other potential Democratic candidates who I would vote for, some possibly even better than Obama. Hillary Clinton is not one of them. Clinton is an unacceptable choice for president regardless of who she is running against.

Josh also made reference to character but too quickly dismissed this issue:

There’s a lot about the presidency beyond policy positions. And character does count. The problem is just that in this country we routinely seem to confine it to matters of sexual ethics and whether you happen to say something that can be distorted beyond imagining by sundry right-wing agitprop freaks.

The media might concentrate too much on matters such as sexual ethics, but character does extend beyond this and, as Josh says, “character does count.” Hillary Clinton has repeatedly shown she will say anything to be elected. Her career, as well as the career of her husband, demonstrate a shocking lack of principle and integrity. To the Clintons everything is about accumulating power and any principle is expendable when politically expedient.

John McCain is hardly the moderate straight talker which the media portrays him as but both Clintons combined still have less integrity than he has, which does outweigh the fact that I might agree with Hillary Clinton a bit more than John McCain on a list of political positions. I doubt I would vote for either of them, and I cannot see enough of a difference between the two to be concerned with having the candidate with the “D” after their name win.

If anything, in a case of two awful candidates it might be better to have the Republican who at least does not go along with some of the party’s most extreme positions. A McCain victory might bring about a small improvement in the Republican Party, and we’d have a chance at a better choice from a Democratic challenger in four years. In contrast, a Clinton victory would mean her views would dominate the Democratic Party for at least eight years, with no real hope of a Democratic candidate in the short run who embodies the reasons why I have voted Democratic in recent years.

President Bartlet And The Bible


Last week Barack Obama presented an example of what we could hear from a president who is capable of writing and expressing ideas, as opposed to echoing the views of the far right or triangulating their views based upon the latest polls. As we have lacked such ability from a president during the Bush/Clinton dynasty the closes we had came from an imaginary White House on The West Wing.  As we choose a real president this year, there is much to learn from this fictitious example. Here’s the first in a series of examples from the pilot episode of The West Wing.