Pleasure Planets in Sci Fi
When it comes to science fiction, it seems that the human race does two things. The first is explore and discover new life. The second is to, in the words of the Doctor, dance with it. Almost every sci fi TV show (and a fair few novels) include the existence of a pleasure planet, though there is often a rotten core beneath the glossy exterior.
The planet orbits several stars and its climate is controlled by a weather modification network, with the natural climate being extremely violent. Risians are extremely open and will freely share their planet, and even themselves (again with the dancing), with visitors; a practice known as “Jamaharon”.
The original series of Battlestar Galactica had Carillon as its pleasure planet, and was the first series to hint that pleasure didn’t always equal perfect. Beneath the casino with its scantily-clad girls and free-flowing alcohol were mines staffed by enslaved aliens.
The management of Carillon were also in the back pocket of the Cylons, with both staff and visitors often going “missing”. Not that nice a place after all, then.
In Stargate SG-1’s The Light, the team are sent to a planet to investigate the death of another team’s member and discover a pleasure temple. One room contains a mesmerizing light display that induces narcotic pleasure.
The problems start when they leave – their brain physiology has been affected, with the result that withdrawal symptoms leave them suicidal. Worse, the changes affect the brain directly and Daniel Jackson ends up dead. Again.
And finally, since I started with a mention of Doctor Who, I’m ending on an episode. Midnight (both name of the planet and episode title) is a world with an atmosphere of lethal radiation that kills humans instantly. But it’s made of diamonds and has several sites of natural beauty, so the obvious thing to do is build a spa there. Of course.
On a trip to see the Sapphire Waterfall, the shuttle is waylaid by a malevolent presence which takes over one of the passengers and results in four people dying. The events on Midnight are one of the few the Doctor cannot explain, nor does the viewer discover what attacked the ship or why. It’s unclear if the spa continued to run or if Midnight was then abandoned, but something evil waits out in the beautiful diamond fields so perhaps they should.
So pleasure planets… great on paper, but not always all they’re advertised to be. Feel free to explore new worlds and discover new civilisations, feel free to dance, but be careful of what lies beneath… sometimes they’re only pretty on the outside *cue creepy music*
Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.