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Entry updated 1 September 2020. Tagged: TV.

Canadian-American tv series (1998). Production companies included Chesler/Perlmutter Productions and River of Stone Productions, for The Sci-Fi Channel. Created by Lewis Chesler and Jeremy Lipp. Executive producers included Lewis Chesler, David Perlmutter and Mary Sparacio. Directors included John Greyson, Clark Johnson and Jorge Montesi. Writers included Lewis Chesler, Jeremy Lipp and Miguel Tejada-Flores. Actors included Mayim Bialik, Rachel Hayward, Suzy Joachim, Megan Leitch, Michael Philip, Brent Stait, Nicholle Tom, and Ice-T. Thirteen 42-minute segments. Colour.

This unusual Television Anthology Series consists entirely of adaptations of previously published short sf, mostly by prominent authors. To provide continuity, the various unconnected stories have been transplanted to a fictional Near Future City called Betaville, a sterile-looking urban background of glass and concrete with ever-present Volkswagen New Beetles plying the streets. The segments are generally dark in tone and are bracketed with prologues and epilogues by the host (Philip). They explore moral and ethical problems posed by advances in Technology that directly affect the minds and bodies of people. The initial episode, based on "Our Lady of the Machine" (Spring 1994 Amazing Stories) by Alan Dean Foster, is a detective tale involving a holographic image of the Virgin Mary (Joachim) controlled by extortionists and capable of killing. The adaptation of James Tiptree Jr's Hugo-winning novella "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (in New Dimensions 3, anth 1973, ed Robert Silverberg) features a down-and-out young woman (Leitch) who is used by corporate interests to remotely control a beautiful synthetic body (Tom) grown for the purpose. "Research Alpha", based on "Research Alpha" (July 1965 If) by A E van Vogt and James H Schmitz, concerns a dangerous experiment by a Scientist (Stait) to speed up Evolution and create a superior human. "Blue Champagne", adapted from John Varley's "Blue Champagne" (New Voices 4, anth 1981, ed George R R Martin), concerns a paraplegic young woman (Hayward) who makes "feelies", emotional Virtual Reality tapes, for the corporation maintaining the "sidekick" device that allows her mobility. Other authors represented include Greg Egan, Ron Goulart, John Varley again, and Donald E Westlake. [LW]


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