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Space Sweepers

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Nia Gipson
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Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers is a South Korean space western/opera directed by Jo Sung-hee. It was released in 2021. In content, it feels very much like the anime Cowboy Bebop with a cast of eccentric crew members down on their luck, just trying to make ends meet. The movie is set in the year 2092, in/around a post-climate change Earth that has been rendered uninhabitable by human activities. The film opens with the words, “In 2092, forests vanish and deserts spread, fading sun and acidic soil cause plants to disappear. Fleeing the sick earth, UTS Corporation builds a new orbiting home for humanity. But only a chosen few can ascend."

In this world, humanity still has different nationalities, and people speak all types of languages, but they all intermingle in the cities and use on-the-fly translators to communicate. Rather than racial division, the film leans into the socio-economic divide between the rich and the poor. It should be noted, that the heroes of this film are all Korean, and all of the antagonists speak American English.

An English teacher once told me that science fiction is always about the here and now. It may be set in the future, but it amplifies the author's (and society's) anxiety about the present. In this film, the implications of a variety of technologies and concepts are explored including, GMOs, terraforming Mars, robots and AI, the challenges of living in space, eugenics, and environmental justice. All of which are topics that could be readily discussed in the STEAM classroom.