chris_gerrib (chris_gerrib) wrote,

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Stowaway, 2021's The Cold Equations

I recently watched Stowaway, a 2021 film that is being compared to the 1954 story "The Cold Equations." It's an apt comparison, and frankly a better story than the 1954 original.

In the 2021 movie, three astronauts fly to an Earth-Mars cycler. (From Wikipedia, a cycler is "spacecraft on a closed transfer orbit that would pass close to two celestial bodies at regular intervals.") In other words, it just flies by and doesn't (can't) stop. Our intrepid astronauts, hours after arriving at the cycler, discover somebody had accidentally stowed away on their ship that made the rendezvous from Earth. The cycler, for convenience of plot, was intended to have a crew of three. Alas, the stowaway inadvertently damaged a CO2 scrubber, meaning the ship can't support even three people, let alone the four now onboard.

The rest of the story is a very-well-done tale of how the four people on board cope with the problem. Several things, in my view, make it a better story than the original. They are:

1) Morality - our stowaway is inadvertent, and nobody is forcing him into an airlock.

2) Technology - there were reasonable safety margins on the flight; however not reasonable enough.

3) Sacrifice - Two of the astronauts come up with a plan to get the additional oxygen needed. The first plan fails, and the person who (arguably) failed decides to make another attempt. She succeeds, but dies as a result.

Overall, I highly recommend it.

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Tags: cold passengers

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