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Asteroid near Earth

Sci-fi Saturday: An Asteroid Lingers Near Earth and Devours Time

Or, at any rate, it devours our perception of time, as one man discovers

“Flyby,” a short sci-fi film at DUST by Jesse Mittelstadt (January 28, 2021 13:22 min) “When a passing asteroid begins to affect how people perceive time, one man struggles to keep up with a life that is quickly disappearing into the future.” Note: Language and mature scenes warning.

When watching the opening sequence of “Flyby,” it’s hard not to think of space cigarillo Oumuamua, for which Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb made the case that it was an extraterrestrial lightsail. Loeb has recently published a book on these and similar reflections, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 26, 2021).

Back to the film, which takes quite a different tack, of course, addressing altered perceptions of time. As the asteroid Chrono-7, instead of crashing into Earth, lingers in its vicinity, it alters perceptions (or the reality?) of time. A man wakes up in the morning to find that he is living in his future, one he had never imagined.

No spoilers but the little girl is very cute and the aging scenes and high tech memory retrieval devices are well done. The mockup of a CNN-like panel of well-meaning but useless experts, dealing with the time warp created by the asteroid, is among the best scenes.

One awkwardness: I am unclear exactly what happened to the little girl. But you will need to watch the film to see what I mean. Obviously, a filmmaker can’t just “explain” things but that’s not a justification for needless obscurity. Overall, an interesting look at what happens when time flies much faster than perception.


Other reviews from the “We are but DUST” files:

Sci-fi Saturday: A robot helps an old fellow rediscover life The robot is very well done and how he gets a name is charming. Lots of people abandon their elderly relatives, of course, so finding a helpful robot in the back yard is a pleasant fantasy.

Sci-fi Saturday: What if an old man could see his mother again? It is a hard film to watch if you lost a loved one, but worthwhile. The old man is paying to using his own memories, retrieved via neuroscience imaging.

Sci Fi Saturday: A fight for the winning ticket In a 2040 superstorm, engulfing the planet, a young woman gets hold of a ticket out. But does the way out really exist? Or is she just hanging on and clinging to a fragile hope?

Sci Fi Saturday: Terrified by a Scrap Monster Well, if you have never been terrified by a Scrap Monster, you are clearly missing out. It’s fun watching a middle class South Korean business executive try to cope with the Scrap Monster.

Sci Fi Saturday: What if there were serious wars over clouds? In a world that still has technology but is desperately short of water, such wars could happen. The short sci-fi film Oceanmaker features pirates who steal precious water from the clouds and a pilot who challenges them

Sci Fi Saturday: Can video games save a lone survivor? The film features fine animations of apocalyptic scenes of post-civilization. The “game” that turns out to be an existential struggle usually benefits from a longer treatment but the animation is well imagined.

Sci Fi Saturday: Can a Robot Find a Better Planet Than Earth? The trouble is, the robot is governed by Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics. After 55 habitable planets, the—by then very old—fellow is beginning to suspect something about the robot’s judgment.

Sci Fi Saturday: Kiko: A great short but key questions unanswered A lonely retail service robot longs for a world beyond her store. An agreeable short but it never addresses the question of how Charlie acquired a robot that would “want” something different than its programming.

Sci-fi Saturday: What if next-stage evolution children appear?A sci-fi short from Sri Lanka looks at the possibilities. The story is very well done as a parable of the social risks of continuous internal warfare.

Sci-Fi Saturday: Can parents get back a dead child as an android? They aren’t even united in their grief; they just think they must “do something” to get back a facsimile of what they remember. They have no philosophical or spiritual resources to fall back on in order to avoid this dead end.

Sci-Fi Saturday film: The robot tries to learn about grief An elderly woman buys a robot to help her when she finds herself all alone, due to tragedy. Investigating the woman’s unhappiness, the robot discovers more than it was, perhaps, intended to know.

Sci-Fi Saturday film: “Speed of Time” at DUST A computer nerd writing a pizza delivery program discovers that his work is way more important than he, or anyone, thought. Imagine what happens when an accomplished ground warrior busts in from another time on a quiet family at the breakfast table…

Sci-Fi Saturday film: “Alone” at DUST. Space engineer Kaya Torres, the only survivor of a black hole, contacts an “interstellar penpal” to keep her company until she dies. She manages a desperate escape but then experiences one of the astonishing implications of time travel.

Sci-Fi Saturday film: “The Beacon” at DUST. Refreshingly realistic, especially the harrowing Arctic encounter where the grieving husband finds out what really happened. The dialogue is refreshingly realistic. Not to be missed is Mark’s encounter with the bureaucrat from hell.

Sci-fi Saturday film: Rescuing lost people. Animated, in French, with English subtitles, but don’t let that deter you. The professional relationships sound pretty real and make it worth the watch. The animation is very good.


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Sci-fi Saturday: An Asteroid Lingers Near Earth and Devours Time