Anthony Gottlieb, the perspicacious man who first hired me to work at The Economist, has made the New York Times for his violent hobby:
It’s not an obvious leap from “The Sopranos” to the Sci-Fi channel, but a friend who was bereft after that HBO series ended was steered to the new incarnation of “Battlestar Galactica,” a cult series about a fleet of starships seeking to escape the robot race of Cylons and find refuge on a fabled, lost colony known as Earth.
Science fiction is one thing: “Battlestar Galactica” has intellectual cachet.
“The humans are pagan polytheists and the robots are monotheists, whose divine jihad is against the humans (even though the former know that the latter created them),” Anthony Gottlieb, the author of “The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance,” explained off the top of his Blackberry from an airport baggage claim. “There’s a curious mix of high-tech and superstition and scriptural fundamentalism (which interestingly suggests that religion is ineradicable, as today’s theorists of secularism are increasingly saying).”
Mr. Gottlieb likes the philosophical puzzles (“Some of the robots think they are human, and some of the humans fear they may be robots”) as well as the way the show switches sympathies back and forth from democracy to dictatorship. He really had only one objection. “There’s lots of romance, though this bores me,” he typed. “Less kissing, more killing is a frequent internal refrain of mine.”
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