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“Eight Episodes”, by Robert Reed

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

NOT FOR CHILDREN.  There is sex implied.

I confess.  I’m a browncoat–a disappointed Firefly fan.   And the first time I read this story, the idea of a short-run TV series representing an alien invasion tickled and thrilled me.

 “Eight Episodes”, by Robert Reed, is the story of a TV series.  I’d call it a bad TV series, except that “bad” implies that it wasn’t successful, and we’re not clear if it was or not.  Because we don’t know who’s judging.

You see,  Invasion of a Small World may have failed as a Terran TV series, but it may very well have been a blinding success as a message from the stars.

Much of the story details how the show didn’t match the expectations of its viewers, except for those viewers who were of a more scientific bent.  Nearly every decision made by the supposed producers of the show–and we never quite know who they are–is wrong for TV. . . but right for truth.  And when the DVD set is released, long after cancellation, with the remaining unaired episodes on it, we see that the scientists who heard something of the truth in this show may have been right.  We start getting details of the arrival of the  invading force–all two rice grains of it–as it approaches Earth, and some of the details are not only correct for what science knows but the public doesn’t, but others turn out to be correct only with scientific observations made after the DVDs are released.

This is not a character driven story–most of the characters are as cardboard and stiff as the animation that was supposedly done of them. but the description of the ideas in “Eight Episodes” is brilliant, and the sentiment that life overcomes. . . is well expressed.

What is the nature of the outer universe?  Do intelligent species leave their planets?  Are they likely to fling tiny starships at other solar systems to influence the natives’ likelihood of attempting star travel?  Is there a level of intelligence at which that message can be translated into a TV show, however unsuccessful, instead of a simple text message or voice simulacrum? 

Who’s out there?  And why can’t they produce compelling serial drama? 

Text of “Eight Episodes”
Audio of “Eight Episodes”

Buy “Eight Episodes” at Amazon