Planet Surface Problem

One of my all time biggest complaints about Sci-Fi is the Planet Surface Problem.

I’ve seen this one come up all over the place but Star Trek has got to be the biggest offender.

It works like this: The enterprise, voyager, original enterprise or other original enterprise arrive at a new never before discovered planet and they decide to beam an away team down to explore the strange new world. After, of course, mentioning it’s a class M planet capable of supporting life to add some believability.

(Believability is important in a show where travel at the speed of light is a given.)

Anyway, the team arrives on the surface and within 30 seconds they discover someone or something important and worthy of an hour long storyline.


This is a PLANET!

They’re not beaming down to a country, city or even area of a city but a Frakin Planet!

Pretending for the sake of argument this newly discovered planet was earth, it would be down right miraculous if they beamed an away team down to Hamilton and the only other intelligent life on the whole planet was say, in Toronto.
(Insert intelligent life in Toronto joke here)

Look- If the only intellgient life on earth was located in Toronto and by chance they beamed down to Newfoundland, that would still be amazingly close considering they could’ve landed in Finland, and Finland seems awfully close to Toronto compared to Australia.

But even if they landed in Hamilton there’s still no way they’d set out for a 30 second or even 30 minute nature hike and stumble upon Toronto.

It’s planet earth, not neighborhood park earth!

Sure sci-fi is known for being loosey-goosey with logic but sometimes it’s especially hard to swallow.

Like in one of my favourite sci-fi movies of all time: Pitch Black.

(I know it’s full of logical problems, but Riddick is a bad ass)

The movie opens with a human space-ship passing through an asteroid shower and being forced to crash land on an unknown planet.

The survivors of the crash set out on foot to explore their immediate surroundings when they discover a race of subterranean monsters who like to eat people. Uh oh!

Then they find an abandoned geological survey camp setup by humans years ago complete with a functional smaller spaceship.

Hang on a sec – They crash land on a planet with gravity, atmospheric pressure and climate conditions comparable to those of earth AND they’re in walking distance of the only other place humans have ever been on the planet before?!

With a setup so improbable the movie could have concluded with the survivors flying the smaller ship about the distance Hamilton is from Toronto before spotting another human settlement. So the survivors stop by to warn the settlers about the carnivorous monsters and they laugh and reply:

“Oh we just spray them with water, and they burn right up.”

It works in how many other sci-fi movies and makes about as much sense.

That’s the rant.

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