Sci-Fi in Canada: Welcome to the Identity Crisis
X-Files, Earth: Final Conflict, Lexx, Stargate: Atlantis, Sanctuary, Battlestar Galactica, Haven, Nikita, Continuum, Primeval: New World. What does this random list of fantasy television have in common? They were all produced in Canada.
Canada is a hot bed for science fiction and fantasy stories – and the television and film industry can’t get enough of us. The American-owned Syfy network keeps investing in Canadian productions like the North American version of Being Human, Haven, Lost Girl and Continuum. I think it is Canada’s identity, or rather identity crisis, that makes us such a hub for these kinds of fantasy and other-realm stories.
Thousands of scholars, writers and neighbours have struggled to define who we are and we haven’t come close to definitively answering that question yet. We used to be British but moved out of mom and dad’s house a while ago. We aren’t Americans (our rebellious older sibling). We are, in many ways, just a fantasy world of multiple ethnicities, cultures, and landscapes, revelling in our otherness.
The inherent themes of an identity crisis (alienation, finding your place in the world and understanding the universe around you) are at the core of any good fantasy story. These themes go hand-in-hand with our Canadian quest for identity. They also go hand-in-hand with growing up and understanding the world around you.
For me, my love affair with science fiction goes all the way back to one of my earliest childhood memories. I’d be in the living room as far back from the TV as I could get and then I’d hear the familiar start of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I would hear the commanding British accent of Capt. Jean Luc Picard’s voice announcing, “Space the final frontier,” and that would be my cue to run toward the TV pretending I was a space ship, flying past Saturn (or whatever that planet with the rings was supposed to be in some distant galaxy).
I love other worlds. My life was (and is) just so boring compared to all the away missions, galactic battles and new frontiers to explore. As a grown-up I still escape to these worlds. They help me cope with the sadness of the real world and the complexities of the human condition. They teach me to fight for a brighter future. They help me respond to the question of what it means to be Canadian.
So begins our adventures together through the big and small screen of science fiction and fantasy on JTM Games. Look forward to film and television reviews, cultural critiques and some frivolity.