Available online now is a completely crowd funded, space-based science fiction series called “L5.” While the quality of the CGI work isn’t quite as good as network TV standards, considering it was made on a $15,000 budget and nearly every frame of its half hour has effects in it, they did an amazing job.
The basic premise is one that’s been visited often, but L5 makes it very intriguing. It’s the near future, the Earth is overpopulated & nearly out of resources, so an international effort is put forth to send a crew of scientists to explore a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. The ship is controlled by an AI while the crew is in hypersleep, the new planet turns out to be inhospitable, so everyone goes back in hypersleep for a return journey to Earth.
The story opens with the crew being revived by the AI, named “Clarke,” who informs the commander that due to unexpected conditions he had to re-route the ship in order to safely return to Earth. Rather than taking 20 years, the commander learns that the new path Clarke plotted increased the time to nearly 200 years.
There is no sign of human activity detected on Earth, although even at a distance it is obvious plant life is still thriving. While the crew of scientists is speculating on what might have happened, a gigantic O’Neill colony is spotted at Lagrange Point 5. While appearing completely intact, the colony looks as deserted as the Earth. After losing contact with a remotely operated vehicle sent into the colony the crew have dubbed “L5,” the commander and ship’s surgeon decide to explore themselves. After entering through the same dock area as the ROV, they find themselves gazing upon the almost unimaginably large open living area.
Again, I must stress that much of the CGI is more on par with a video game than something a major studio would produce, but is more than adequate just the same. It is important to remember this episode was made on a total budget far less than what a single “big name” actor might get per installment of a standard television show. What has been done with so little money is impressive.
While risky, the idea of a freely distributed and crowd funded show is an appealing one. Here we have a hard science-fiction story with a huge central mystery whose fate is actually in the hands of the people who watch it. This is exactly the kind of entertainment model frustrated genre fans have been begging for, and while there’s a long way to go before this method can truly compete with traditional television, “L5” is a bold move in the right direction. It deserves attention for excellent storytelling, and support for giving fans the kind of control they want over their entertainment.
“L5” is available via streaming for a small fee or completely free to download via torrent. After watching it I think you might just feel like donating a few bucks to keep this series alive. After all, this one is completely in our hands…
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