Caprica’s Got Me Falling For Sci-Fi Again: A Love Letter

Dearest Caprica,

I have just one question for you: Where have you been all my frakking life?!

You see, I had all but given up on science fiction. During the halcyon days of my youth, I adored sci-fi, and the love was returned — in the dazzling scenery-chewing of Star Wars, the tantalizing mystery of Doctor Who, and (god, YES) the shockingly perfect mix of spookiness and space that was Alien(s)(3)(etc.). Later on, the love grew complex and philosophical but no less satisfying, as Star Trek: The Next Generation (and its kin) ventured to pleasure planets and androgynous zones, and as The Matrix (only the first one, thank you) turned the world upside down and inside out with a satiated, glowy-green, leather-clad ahhhhh. Sure, there were some turkeys (try to catch Flash Gordon on cable the next time you’re stoned or running a fever), but to young, blossoming me, science fiction was rich, adventurous, and sure of itself — the perfect lover for a geeky, wondering teen.

And then something happened. Maybe it was the (lower) quality of the offerings, or maybe it had something to do with some larger force (like the first Iraq war or the explosion of horrible reality TV or the fact that real-life technology suddenly seemed almost as impressive as a holodeck), or maybe it was just a natural part of becoming a boring adult with a full-time job — whatever or however, I fell out of love with science fiction. Nothing seemed to turn me on anymore. Everything left me as cold as a Borg drone. And then — sweet, frakking Jesus (er, not Jesus; not on polytheistic planet Caprica) — there was you.

The futuristic flowers you have strewn at my feet! You, Caprica, are what science fiction is for. Multi-faceted, marvelous you: you give us believable technology, fascinating sociology, and layered storylines that reward repeated viewing. There’s even an amusing and plausible culture of the future: who doesn’t want to take an (unexploded) MAGLEV train to a pyramid game? Who wouldn’t love to type/write a message to mom on a magical floaty computer sheet? Better yet, who doesn’t want to kiss and kill — and smoke some purple — in a V club?

And oh, the characters. Where to begin? With my favorite, of course: the slippery, seductive Sister Clarice Willow (Polly Walker). Clarice coos, caresses, challenges, commands — regardless of which box you check or which way you swing (as long as you don’t swing too far away, but why would I want to?).

The object of Clarice’s affection (yes, I still believe in their star-crossed nascent love) is Amanda Graystone (Paula Malcomson). Lovely Amanda, so fragile yet so savvy; a wisp of a thing who will break your arm given the chance; a Pandora’s box just waiting to be opened.

Just as slippery as Clarice (but much less subtle) is gay Tauron assassin Sam Adama (Sasha Roiz). Sam, you’re all instinct, energy, destruction. Heat and danger and very pretty man-candy.

Then there’s Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), the Frankenstein-y father figure who wants to enjoy a quiet family life and control the entire universe. Sylvia Plath wishes she were alive to write a new version of “Daddy” for you, dear Daniel.

And you, kids of Caprica, are more than all right, from cryptic Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) to earnest Lacy (Magda Apanowicz) to poor, sweet Philomon (Alex Arsenault). Rarely do I wish to be 17 again, but these juveniles — smart, brave, both conformist and extremist — really know how to make delinquency worthwhile.

Oh, you deftly drawn denizens of Caprica: you tickle my brain as well as my fancy. And your stories — their contortions and ripples! Topical but not sensationalist; enticing yet cautionary; breezy and dense all at once. You are here and now, and still so far away and far off, out of reach and right there in the mirror.

But you didn’t stop there, did you, Caprica? The people and the plots weren’t enough for you: you had to drizzle a thin layer of icing, just to tantalize and sweeten. Your nerd quotient, Caprica, is out of this world. From writer Jane Espenson to actor James Marsters to director Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres!), you’ve selected the finest sci-fi and fantasy ingredients to guarantee optimum deliciousness.

Also, you’re very gay. In the best of ways: in a sensibility sort of way, not just a sexuality sort of way. In the way that gives us hope for the gay, gay future.

Thank you, Caprica, for showing me the way back to the love I had lost. Like Zoe, I was stuck, trapped in a robotic soul, just wanting to reach out, needing to connect. You reached back — you reached in — and put a string of blinking holobands around my virtual heart.

So don’t stay gone too long, my fiction-y science-y love. I’ll be counting the parsecs.

Yours in queer, well-written, cybernetic lifeform node-ness,
scribegrrrl (or at least scribegrrrl’s avatar)

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  1. C’mon, Caprica’s not that queer. There hasn’t been a whole lot of screen time with Sam and his boyfriend. They need to gay it up a little, godsdamnit.

    I loved BSG and I quite like Caprica. For some reason, though, nothing can beat Buffy(if you consider that sci-fi.) I think it’s partly nostalgia.

    But I still love a good gay mobster.

    • I do not consider Buffy scifi, even in the slightest. I’m really not sure why you would. Have you seen the last few episodes? The way sister Clarice and Amanda have been oogling each other? The drag queen MC in New Cap City? Not to mention Sam and his husband.

    • Actually, it’s the subtlety of the queerness that I find so refreshing. Too often in mainstream shows the gay characters are tokens and only get the same old tired gay storylines.

      I get the feeling that when they do feature more of Sam (which I think they’ve said they will), it’ll be more gaying it down rather than up. Which is fair, because I think if I was a tattood, muscle-bound, lethal assassin I’d probs just want to go home to lots of hugs.

  2. I am particularly fond of this show. Great world building, interesting new twists, fantastic character development overall and the premise oozes with potential. I am also really enjoying some of the struggles that Zoe is going through in the Cylon body in regards to gender and body image ect.

    I also have my qualms. First off some of the choices made for Amanda are a bit in the vein of WTF. Her freaking out at the memorial then hijacking daniel’s interview on the late night tv show.

    regardless, quality scifi back on my tv thank the gods. I also heard something about some of the final five showing up… *fist pump*

    • Yeah, I found Amanda’s flakiness annoying too at first, but once they explained about her mental history regarding her brother’s death I was ok with it (not to mention coping with her daughter dying/being a terrorist).

      BSG is the most enjoyable series I’ve ever watched, and I’ve been blown away with how Caprica has managed to take the style, themes and quality from BSG, yet create an entirely different world, and not fall into any prequel traps. I particularly love the combination of the believable technology and the retro styling of the Tauron culture.

      Bizarrely, the only think that has jarred me so far is James Marsters! I don’t know if it’s because he’s hamming it up, or I just can’t get past his Spikiness.

  3. this is great scribegrrrl! i seriously, seriously need to make time to catch up on this. i’m pretty much new to sci-fi (BSG is really the only science fiction i’ve devoured) but the production values and ethical ambiguities of caprica are a huge selling point. not to mention it builds on one of my favorite fictional worlds ever!

    “who doesn’t want to take an (unexploded) MAGLEV train to a pyramid game?”


    also, your description of amanda is like exactly, exactly spot-on .and might be why i find her character really compelling for some reason.

    I HAVE TO CATCH UP ON THIS AND LOST. too bad my dvr service is such a piece of shit it won’t record any of the things i want.

  4. The truthiest truth to ever be truthed: Sylvia Plath wishes she were alive to write a new version of “Daddy” for you, dear Daniel.

    Daniel and Zoe/Zoebot’s relationship is one of the most terrifying and fascinating things I have ever watched on TV. I was crazy about the way would see him interacting with the Cylon and then three seconds later we would see him talking to his teenage daughter. (And I loved that he almost kept catching her and Philo making out!)

    “Ghosts in the Machine” took fucked up daddy issues to a whole other level: the ring of fire, the puppy! Gods. The whole show is like mourn porn!

    The AV Club did a good job this season pointing out how Caprica puts a uniquely feminine twist on the sci-fi epic (,39383/), and I think you’re right, Scribe, that it puts a uniquely queer spin on it as well.

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