Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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Newts! is a fast-paced, musical comedy based on the book of the same name written by Karel Čapek. In an alternate early 20th century, a lone sea captain discovers highly intelligent newts. When he tries to find them a place to survive, the ‘economic possibilities’ of the species are quickly seen by a wealthy investor. The story is told by a bystander, who can’t help feeling a little responsible for everything that has happened since she opened the door of the investor for the discoverer of the newts.

Newts! is a fun, 6-episode musical that shows the evil, good and tragic nature of human kind through the rise of a new sentient species as a lucrative business opportunity. Despite the playful tone and melodramatic characters, the main story felt realistic, as it could have happened and could happen today. While human traits like greed and the indifference to suffering of others are certainly part of the story, the message is more nuanced. Also good people with good intentions can cause great tragedy or are just not capable to keep up with developments that propel history to a seemingly inescapable outcome.

The story is mainly told by a narrator who leads the listener from event to event, where dialogue takes main stage. I really like the parts where audio design was used to evoke old-timey film reels or news clippings – here the line between reality and fiction became a little thinner. I also appreciated the introduction of each episode by a little information about the author of the original book, the Czech science fiction writer Karel Čapek.

Despite the praise above, it was just not fully my cup of tea. It was well executed, but not really surprising, laughing-out-loud funny or emotionally moving. I liked it, but did not love it. Therefore: 3,5 stars.

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