Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Illustration for article titled So I watched Planetes last weekend

And on the whole I give it very high marks in terms of realism.

  • No sound in space.
  • Only centrifuges and centripetal artificial gravity
  • Children born in the Moon's reduced gravity require constant medical monitoring and grow much faster than Earth people do.
  • Newton's laws of motion actually matter
  • Astronauts run risks from long term high radiation exposure. A lot of them die from higher incidence of cancer
  • Cigarettes require special venting and processing rooms or booths.
  • Nuclear fusion engines are complicated and require a huge effort to build
  • Space development is a huge multinational enterprise with hundreds of nations, governments and companies participating
  • Economic and political troubles at home still matter and are not ignored

And on an on. Hard science fiction fans take note, the creators of this series worked very hard to keep it accurate.


Now in terms of plot and characters and so on, it's not quite so good. There are some light novel cliches going on here and that will cause a lot of eye rolling among less sentimental audiences—like me.

But there are some departures from this and some real depth here too.

  • Fee Carmichael, for example, is refreshing as a female character who is strong, smart and resourceful and who isn't a love interest, a cliche or eye candy. She's a good leader.
  • Terrorists are humanized and given complicated, conflicted and worthy motives that are not easily dismissed.
  • Ambitious engineers and scientists are shown to be sometimes dangerously disconnected but also respected and vitally necessary for progress—the parallels to Korolev, Von Braun, Oppenheimer or Dr. Strangelove are made pretty plain.
  • There are several interesting crimes that are invented in the Planetes world. Zero-gee pick pocketing for example. Or illegal dumping of debris or toxic waste in space.

Earth has evolved into two major political blocs. The Union (Comprised of the rich, postindustrial nations.) and everyone else (The developing world.). Neither side is really shown to be purely good or evil. The Union is shown to hush things up and do a lot of illegal stuff just as the terrorists do.

So on the whole, it's a good hard SF series. And for the accuracy alone I highly recommend it.

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