Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Review: Paradox

Paradox, for the uninitiated, is Auntie Beeb's latest off-the-wall time travelling Mancunian cop show. Sort of. The paradox is, in fact, that despite being utterly rubbish in any way that matters, Paradox is great telly.

Much has been said about the stereotypical nature of the main characters: the tough, career focused female Inspector; the rebellious, sceptical-unless-it-suits-him-not-to-be one (who just happens to have been sharing the Inspector’s bed to boot); the Christian one who, obviously, is prepared to believe anything he can vaguely attribute to God; the mad scientist of the slightly sinister, wouldn’t-like-to-meet-him-in-a-castle-dungeon variety; and of course the usual cast of extras headed inexorably toward the unfortunate demise our heroes can see coming. So I won’t dwell on them any longer.

More interesting is the Paradox, that which our heroes are called upon to believe, whether they like it or not. Essentially, some entity or mechanism is sending images of a crime to the mad scientist a few hours before it occurs. Our heroes have to figure out what the images represent, and from that where and how the incident occurs in time to, hopefully, stop it. All of which is of course as ludicrous as it sounds, but surprisingly good edge of the seat telly if you’re prepared to ignore the bit of your brain that says ‘that wouldn’t happen’. And since we’re all sci-fi fans here, that part of our brain is pretty much permanently bypassed anyway.

On the other hand, if you do stop and think about it – and it seems the writer has, at least briefly – there is plenty of existential philosophising to be done. For instance, the rebellious, sceptical one, having discovered that he should have died in episode two, is given to wonder whether, given that there are an infinite number of him in all these parallel universes, it matters a dingo's kidney what he does here, and proceeds to become more rebellious and reckless.
Meanwhile the Christian one first has his faith challenged, then decides that God is giving him a message through the images and turns into a slightly sinister and stalkery guardian angel.
Apart from such philosophical meanderings - and the more obvious questions of who and where these images are coming from, not to mention how and why - two things occur to me which may come as close to being the point of this ramble as anything.

First, the images from the future are snapshots, glimpses, not the whole story, but enough to guide our heroes in the right direction, provided they can interpret them correctly and quickly enough. All of which parallels the kind of vague-but-obvious-with-hindsight way that we so often perceive God as using to communicate with us. (Well, that could just be me, but still, that’s the point I’m going to leave for more theologically inclined bloggers to dissect.)

The second thing that occurs to me (and I’m sure has occurred to many working in the Christian fiction field) is what if, rather than a mad scientist, these images were received by a religious nutter? A street corner prophet manages to foretell a gruesome murder on his patch, for instance? How would the authorities react if they head about this? What would become of the prophet? In fact, throwing prophecy in to any kind of time travel related scenario give it a little spiritual twist which, followed up in a suitably unusual way, could end up in some good Christian sci-fi.

And with that, the blog seems to have finally returned to its intended course…