Love, Death, Robots, and the legacy of short stories
What better words can we use to summarize the sci-fi genre than love, death, and robots? As the name indicates, the Netflix series Love, Death, and Robots brings the best science fiction can offer in episodic stories that inspire awe, fear, and introspection. All of this often in less than ten minutes!
Netflix released the third season of L,D+R on May 20th, 2022. It was refreshing to see it did not drop the quality. Some argue that it got even better, with several episodes bound to become classics of the short-fiction anthology category (thinking of the notable example of Jibaro and its surreal visuals and heavy themes).
To what do we own the success of Love, Death, and Robots? Incredible stories? Excellent animation? Great productions? All at once?
(By the way, if you’d like to read a fantastic blog post ranking each episode of the first season, here is one for you.)
The success of L,D+R is reminiscent of the golden age of science fiction, which own popularity was attributed to pulp magazines filled with amazing stories in the shorter format. I know many of you prefer full-length novels. Getting attached to the plot or the characters with fewer words can be challenging. But, historically, short fiction was central to spreading the science fiction genre and enticing the readers with futuristic, science-based tales.
(You can read a concise history of science fiction short stories here.)
Before television, magazines such as Amazing Stories or Astounding Science Fiction were the go-to media for fast entertainment. You could read about alien invasion, time travel, a post-nuclear war world, and (of course) robots in about 10 to 15 minutes. Those are insightful stories that make an impression in just a few minutes.
Now, the sentiment is the same. In a world where everything moves at the velocity of a mouse click, fast entertainment or, as the kids say nowadays, bingeable content has a similar appeal as yore’s magazines. In just under 10 minutes, you get to explore the world through the eyes of three robots, experience the dangers of space travel, or watch a war unfolding between an old man and the rats in his shed. It’s all phenomenal!
This faster format sets L,D+R apart from other anthology series, like Black Mirror or Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. They are also episodic sci-fi stories but having one hour per episode makes them slower in pace.
The correlation between fast entertainment and the binge-worthy L,D+R is not exactly a coincidence. Did you know that most of the stories told in L,D+R are adapted from "actual" short stories? We have big names in science fiction that lend their credit to this Netflix show. From Peter Hamilton, John Scalzi, Alaistair Reynolds, and Ken Liu, their short stories are what help to make L,D+R great.
AND… you can read a few of them online!
All of this is to say, if you enjoy Love, Death, and Robot, why not try reading short stories? Be it reading a collection by a particular author (it could be me, just saying ;) or signing up to receive copies of sci-fi magazines (they still exist!), give it a go. You’ll be amazed.
Although based on remarkable short stories, the show L,D+R is still a different media. While in the written format, we mainly depend on our imagination to experience the story. The animated version has the visuals embroidered in the plot. And the animation is definitely one of L,D+R’s strengths. Each episode has its own style, a style that, more often than not, is the right choice for the story being told.
That’s it for today, folks! What is your favorite episode of Love, Death, and Robots? For me, it is hard to choose one single episode as my favorite. Still, I will point to a super underrated one: The Drowned Giant (2º season), adapted from a homonymous story by J.D. Ballard. The short story is equally excellent, bringing to the discussion a powerful commentary on society in a humorous narrative.
Tell in the comments which stories you have read or which is your favorite!
See you next post,
Carla Ra is a scientist by day, sci-fi writer by night.
You can check out her anthology ARTIFICIAL REBELLION here.