Book Review: Farscape Forever!: Sex, Drugs and Killer Muppets
It is rare to come across a unique science fiction show these days. My feelings on the matter are that the X-Files was one most of the time, Battlestar Galactica has a unique streak, and the rest have the same bloodline as Star Trek or Star Wars. This is a shame with the amount of science fiction ideas waiting to be mined from the written veins of creativity available to Hollywood. One show that I feel broke the mold, and stands head and shoulders above the rest: Farscape. I was hooked from the first scene aboard Moya, and knew I¡¯d continue to watch even if this was a typical show. It took a few shows to convince me it was different, and each new one I watch only convinces me even more that the show deserves the fan base it carries.
That comes from just watching the show. Most of the time, I never dig any deeper into a shows unique universe and that normally is because the universe isn¡¯t that unique. Farscape was different, and made me want to dig more into the characters, and universe. When I first received Farscape Forever!: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets I was a bit nervous. I have read other books of essays surrounding shows, and I don¡¯t really remember anything about them. The title did intrigue me, and I hoped if the show broke the TV mold, maybe the book would do the same. I was not disappointed.
Before we go farther I will lay out a few warnings to the reader. First, I recommend reading the book after watching all the seasons and the miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, if you hate spoilers. The book consists of essays on the characters and includes many allusions to the show for examples. I took the bullet for this review, and read on. While spoilers drive me crazy I still enjoyed every essay, and author included. Second, since I am writing to a chiefly Christian audience I will warn there is some strong language, and a few other allusions to the prior mentioned sex, drugs and killer Muppets. I did not find these in that bad of taste, but if you don¡¯t like those you may want to stay away. Finally, the reading of this book may cause you to pull out, or go rent/buy the shows. You¡¯ve been warned.
The book is a part of the Smart Pop Anthology Series, and is edited by Glenn Yeffeth. He has also edited books on the Matrix, and War of the Worlds movies. The book contains twenty different essays, ranging in topics from character studies of John Crichton and Rygel, to an examination of the symbiotic relationship between Pilot and Moya. At the core of the book are the looks at each of the characters, and how they developed throughout the show. My favorite one had to be ¡°The Fall and Rise of Rygel XVI¡± by Bill Spangler. It gave me a deeper understanding and respect for ¡°Sparky¡±, and those who bring him to life. Key moments throughout the series are alluded to, and in the end my understanding of Rygel was much more complete. On watching the next show, and looking back over the shows I had watched up till them I could see how Rygel has changed and developed. The same can be said after reading each essay focusing on Farscape¡¯s most important commodity. Other character portrayals that I enjoyed include ¡°Looking Out For Number One¡± by Patricia Bray that looks at the interaction between the players, and ¡°Don¡¯t Make Me Tongue You¡± by Martha Wells that looks at the buddy relationship between John Crichton and D¡¯Argo. The villains also get the once over, notably P.N. Elrod in ¡°Farscape Villains I¡¯ve Known and Loved¡±, a quick breakneck look at the colorful bad guys of Farscape out to get John Crichton. It¡¯s a long list.
A few essays focused away from the characters of the show, and instead focused on the show itself. ¡°Down the Wormhole¡± by Jeanne Cavelos looked at the way Farscape broke the formula of the typical sci-fi show, where ¡°Theater of Faces¡± by Michael Marano and ¡°Flatulence, Food, and Fornication¡± by Rick Klaw both took a closer look at the Muppets behind the shows success. All three add to the quality of the book, and are must reads for any fan, or anyone in the business of writing for TV, or puppetry. Another notable essay is ¡°Puppets, Sentient Blue Vegetables, Body Fluids, and Love¡± by Doranna Durgin which takes a humorous look at how, as the essay says,¡±Farscape screwed with its characters¡±, and talks about how the show even made it to your TV set.
Not all the essays take a serious approach to the subject matter. One essay, ¡°Dear John¡± by Tee Morris, takes a stab at NASA, where another one, ¡°Universe on a Budget¡± by Roxanne Longstreet Conrad takes a look at the Farscape universe by writing a travel guide to it. Be sure not to miss the special section titled, ¡®How to Eat Like a Hynerian on an Exiled Peacekeeper¡¯s Budget¡¯.
Overall the book was a fun read. Like many anthologies, it can be read in short bursts, and put aside for later reading, all without losing your place. For example, I found myself referring to the book after watching one episode, ¡°Crackers Don¡¯t Matter¡± and finding a chapter devoted to the episode. The reading brought up many issues that forced me to look back over the episode and see things I missed. All the essays are well-written, and insightful.
The cover price for the book is $17.95, and the book can be bought at Amazon.com. It is published by Benbella, and is in paperback format.