Monday, March 17, 2014

My Love From Another Star As Science Fiction

As a long-time science fiction lover, I happily anticipated watching a drama with an alien in it. I really enjoyed the show, it's one of my favorites; but all the way through I was looking for information about his people, his planet, or his method of travel. There wasn't much, and what there was didn't make sense. It leaves us with a blank slate for a main character, which is kind of weird. Perhaps the writer never really thought about those things, but they seem pretty basic to a science fiction show.

Having grown up reading Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein and watching shows like Star Trek and Apollo 13, I expect certain things from science fiction. I expect the author to have put some thought into designing a world. I expect things that happen in the story to make internal sense. I expect answers to questions brought up in the plot.

MLFAS falls short in all of these areas. Not much is said about the alien society and why they behave the way they do. Why did they abandon Min-joon in the first place? They didn't even look for him. They can all teleport, but they didn't bother. We see them wandering through the forest collecting specimens, so they must have some kind of interest or curiosity about our world. It's pretty far to come. Min-joon is the only one who was interested in Earth people and explored the town. That shows he is different from all the others. None of them were interested in people. Maybe people are not important, even one of their own who strays and gets lost.

Min-joon tells us at one point that on his world they don't have families or friends. Is that why they left him? Do they not have emotional connections or concern for each other? If they don't have warm relationships, they probably don't have emotions. That makes sense because in the beginning he was very closed-in and emotionless, rather like Spock. Maybe his people are like Vulcans, but even Vulcans look out for one another. He kept pretty much to himself for 400 years because that is just what his people do? What kind of society would have resulted from that? You'd think they would have been too isolated to have developed a lasting civilization or technology. Knowing these things would have given depth to our alien's character.

One big plot point is that blood and saliva make Min-joon sick. It becomes an interesting problem when he tries to kiss his girlfriend. If this is true though, how come he can eat meat? We know he can eat chicken. I don't remember what else they show him eating. It's lucky for our side that his body chemistry isn't so different that he can't absorb nutrients from plants. He mentions several times that his body has changed to acclimate to Earth. Maybe it changed enough to allow him to eat but not kiss. It's noticeable that it takes a shorter and shorter time for him to recover from a kiss, and maybe he gets used to it. That would be like taking allergy shots. But it would have been nice to have an official note on that.

A big obstacle in the story is the fact that Min-joon has to wait 400 years for a comet to return. What's the logic in that? He says they terraformed the comet so the natives wouldn't notice them. To begin with, that's a crock because people see the flying saucers all over the place. They aren't hiding. What would be the purpose in terraforming the comet anyway? Do they fly their spaceships to our solar system and use the comet as a base camp for little expeditions to Earth? Isn't it kind of silly to have to wait to rescue their crewman until their hideout orbits close enough? You'd think they could sneak around better than that.

Do they dock their spaceships to the comet and use it as a mother ship? Comets don't make interstellar journeys. They belong to our solar system, swinging out to the farthest reaches, and then back in towards the sun. Or did the aliens install engines so they can fly it home? If so, then it hasn't got a 400-year orbit any more. It could be that the comet is a mother ship, and it just takes 400 years for it to get from Vulcan (or wherever) to Earth because they don't have light-speed. Suppose Min-joon's group had to leave and couldn't return. A rescue party has to be sent out from their home planet. If they are extremely long-lived and don't age, they may just put up with the long flight.

 Min-joon says he is waiting for the comet, not that he's waiting for a rescue party. If they aren't concerned with each other to the extent that they don't look for him when he goes missing, why would they send a rescue party later? If they were going to rescue him, they should have done it before they left and not strand him for so long. One explanation would be that they are doing a long-term scientific study of Earth and come back every 400 years to gather information. In that event, Min-joon isn't waiting for a rescue party, he's just waiting for the next regularly scheduled expedition. But that isn't said. At any rate, the comet thing doesn't make sense and ought to be explained.

And what about the flying saucers that were spotted zipping around before the comet got back? Did they get to Earth without needing the comet? Why didn't Min-joon get a ride on one of those? When the comet finally got here, a flying saucer appeared above a forest, some ways from Min-Joon's home. They evidently teleported Min-joon from his balcony to the ground under the saucer, and then turned him into sparkles to beam onto the ship.  Why the sparkles? Min-Joon never shows sparkles when he teleports. Why didn't the aliens just teleport him straight onto the ship without the middle step?

And finally, what's with the wormhole? Did the alien ship get sucked into it by accident, or did they purposely use it to speed up their trip? Is Min-joon using it to teleport from his home planet to Earth, without needing a space ship? If the aliens could do that, they could have rescued him sooner. If they fell into the wormhole accidentally they may be still figuring out how to use it.

Raising questions that never get answered leaves me unsatisfied. It's annoying that they pulled a wormhole out of a hat with no foreshadowing, and called it good. I am however glad that the main couple gets to be together. And that the kid brother got some E.T. time with the alien. That was probably my favorite scene of the show.