Blake's 7


"Tonight; the time before time began, the universe, black holes, God and the laws of science. Professor Stephen Hawking, dr. Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke discuss the mysteries man faces as he starts to explore the stars."

source: Independent - August 15th 2013

Thus began an hour long discussion among the aforementioned great minds, talking about the stuff I was already deeply interested in as a teenager. This was broadcast in 1988 originally, but I saw it somewhere in the early 1990s and I was glued to the television set for the hour the discussion lasted and was sad when it had to end. Anything and everything to do with science, the universe, life and evolution had, and always will have my interest and attention; except when it was done at school, I hated school and never finished it.

When I dig back into my memories to find out where and when this affection with science found its way into my life, I end up at my parents. I clearly remember where I started to question the school system, and it was at a very young age. My father gave me the same advice over and over again: never blindly accept anything from anyone, not even your teacher. When your teacher tells you that something is like this or that, always ask him or her "why"?

Of course whenever dad himself was the one making a claim or demand, things worked different; dad was the law ;-) It was years later when I learned that he himself never finished high school because he was kicked out, and that despite his advice to always question the teacher, he wanted me to do well at school because of that fact; he wished a better life for his children, as he finished a university degree law education when he was almost 40 years old.

Where dad taught me to question everything and everyone, my mother instilled in me a deep love for stories; she was happiest just being by herself with a good book. She was not a lover of science or science fiction at all, but she was a total fan of the British science fiction TV series in the late seventies Blake's 7; I know that's where I fell in love with cosmology and science in general. I even dreamed about becoming a NASA astronaut, but that was before high-school started...

1978 - 2018: 40th anniversary of Blake’s 7!
source: RadioTimes - January 2nd 2018

Blake's 7 was just great. It was a story about a future terrorist, Blake, who is sentenced to life in prison on a remote planet after being falsely accused. He manages to escape however with fellow convicts Vila, Jenna, Gan and Avon. They escape in an abandoned alien spacecraft called "The Liberator." That ship has an on-board computer called Zen with a mind of its own. In a later episode they also pick up the psychic Cally, which makes a total of 7, counting Zen.

Here in the Netherlands only the first two seasons were aired in 1979 (I was 11 years old then) and 1981, but four seasons were made in total, and years later I finally saw season 3 and 4. In the later seasons Roj Blake is no longer the leader; that role was assumed by the genius computer criminal Avon. For me Avon has always been the real hero, even if he was a complete ego-maniac :-) The conversations between the crew-members, especially with all the heavy British accents, were a pure delight for me.

And I loved the AI's; Zen, the ship's central computer, and at the end of season one they find Orac, a stand-alone AI that has all the knowledge of all the computers in the totalitarian Terran Federation, thanks to a "wireless communication system". WiFi wasn't a thing yet... Orac was as hilarious as he was smart sometimes. Here's a snippet of a conversation between the new artificial intelligence Orac and some of the crew-members (remember to add that British accent):

"Why did Orac lie when he said the Liberator was behaving normally?"

"I did not lie! Considering the proximity of that fascinating black hole, the ship was and is behaving normally."

"Orac, what is so fascinating about this particular black hole?"

"ALL black holes are fascinating! Their gravitational pull is so massive that not even light can escape from them. A cubic inch of black hole matter can weigh a million tons..."

"We know all that, and so do you. So why this particular black hole?"

"The absence of x-ray emissions; normally colliding particles in the vicinity of a black hole emit x-rays."

"So you decided you would like a closer look..."

"The absence of x-rays highlighted a gap in my knowledge of the universe which cannot be tolerated!"

"So without telling us you've re-programmed the navigation computers."

"I have noticed that the occupants of this spacecraft have a lamentable lack of interest in the more fascinating aspects of the universe. Uh, you must excuse me; I have many observations to make."
source: Blake's 7 - season 3, episode 4: "Dawn Of The Gods"

Can you imagine what effect these types of conversations had on an eleven or twelve year old boy in The Netherlands? I can, because I am that boy, or I was at least, and I always tried to not be one of those spacecraft occupants with "a lamentable lack of interest in the more fascinating aspects of the universe", and don't want "a gap in my knowledge of the universe which cannot be tolerated!" ;-)

Blake's 7 was super fun, entertaining and messed up all at once:

Blake's 7 was popular from its first broadcast, watched by approximately 10 million in the UK and shown in 25 other countries. Although many tropes of space opera are present, such as spaceships, robots, galactic empires and aliens, its budget was inadequate for its interstellar theme. Critical responses have been varied; some reviewers praised the series for its dystopian themes, strong characterization, ambiguous morality and pessimistic tone, as well as displaying an "enormous sense of fun", but others have criticized its production values, dialogue and perceived lack of originality, with broadcaster and critic Clive James describing it as "classically awful".
source: Wikipedia

Looking back at the series now, I can still appreciate it all, but the acting and production values, or lack thereof, hurts the eyes sometimes :-) If you can endure some of that eye-sore and if you're interested, you can start watch th every first episode below. Thanks so much for traveling the universe to end up on my tiny little blog, dear reader. Tomorrow I will be back here, and hope you will find your way back here too. Until then, never let life not astonish you :-)

Blake's 7 - 1x01 - The Way Back

The above is a redacted version of a post I originally released on Steemit in September 2018

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and reading my posts dear reader, I appreciate that a lot :-) If you like my content, please consider leaving a comment, upvote or resteem. I'll be back here tomorrow and sincerely hope you'll join me. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy!

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