A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Galaxy Express 999

Galaxy Express 999 title card

In a shocking turn, the Obscure SF Primer is back, ready to look at Galaxy Express 999, after nearly a year’s absence. If you want to know why, you can read here about what’s kept me from writing. Enough of that, though; let’s get on with the article!

Galaxy Express 999 is a 1977 anime that’s both little known in the west and extremely influential. It was created by Leiji Matsumoto and set in the so-called “Leijiverse,” which consists of other classic anime series such as Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Space Battleship Yamato. It has the fairly bizarre premise of being set on an intergalactic train which travels along the invisible space rails from planet to planet, stopping only for one day’s worth of local time (which can be as short as a few hours to several days) before moving on to the next destination–whether all passengers are aboard or not. You might think this doesn’t sound very sci-fi; after all, a space train is just whimsical fantasy, especially when it seems to literally operate like a steam engine. Still, the core ideas at the heart of this series are the same ones that play a role in countless others, regarding what it means to truly be human, and the cost of achieving immortality. With that said, let’s dive into Galaxy Express 999.

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A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Star Cops

Star Cops TitleIt’s time for another edition of the Primer! We’re back at the end of the month with a British sci-fi/police procedural series that bears the rather unimaginative title of Star Cops. Set in the far off year of 2027, there’s now enough offworld presence that an international police force is established to help maintain law and order in the final frontier. Of course, like all international endeavors, that means a lot of nationalistic posturing and power struggles, on top of tight budgets and low manpower… this is starting to sound familiar, isn’t it? Don’t worry; the show takes a completely different, more realistic approach, but the question remains. Will Star Cops prove to be a bit more creative than its name would lead you to believe, or is it as inane as you fear?

Let’s take a look.

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A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Dark Skies

The Primer is back, unexpectedly as it may be, to cover little known 90’s UFO series and X-Files coattail rider, Dark Skies. Set in the 60’s with the backdrop of the cold war ever-present, Dark Skies poses an alternative to what you thought you knew about that time. But is being a period piece and limiting yourself primarily to UFOs instead of the SFF kitchen sink approach enough for this series to stand on its own, or was it right to be so quickly forgotten? It’s time to find out.

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A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Otherworld

Otherworld Title CardThe Primer is back with another odd, forgotten series: Otherworld. Originally debuting on CBS in 1985, Otherworld tells the tale of the Sterling family, who get lost in an alternate, dystopian world called Thel after being ditched in a pyramid by their tour guide during a once-in-10,000-years planetary alignment. Stranded in a world of androids, beastmen and authoritarian rule–how did they get there, and how can they get back? Given its short, 8-episode season, the odds are against them, but let’s find out. Continue reading

A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Legend

Legend 1995 TV title cardThe Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer returns for the new year with another unusual genre crossover. We’ve done the SF legal drama; we’ve looked at a sci-fi soap opera; and now, it’s time for the Western genre to have a taste of science fiction goodness. While we often hear about the Western influence on the sci-fi genre, through shows like Star Trek with its “Wagon Train to the Stars,” or most obviously in Firefly, it’s not too often that this influence flows in reverse–but 1995 UPN series Legend is one such example. There have been others, and more notable ones, too, like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., so what makes the brief, 12-episode Legend worth a look first? Come along and learn why.

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