Raised by Wolves

I just finished watching the first three episodes of the new HBO Max series: Raised by Wolves.  Lamentably, HBO made this difficult since they’ve been in a dispute with Roku, my preferred steaming platform, on getting an app into their environment.  I had to watch it on as ASUS Chromebook mini I keep connected to the TV using HBO Max’s somewhat glitchy website.  I hadn’t turned on that Chromebook in a long time, so there was a lot of updating and configuration twiddling.  (I hate watching shows on my laptop or desktop computer.)

But stupid logistical difficulties aside, I’m really enjoying this series so far.  It appears to be set in a far future, where two factions of humanity have engaged in a catastrophic war that has made Earth uninhabitable.  One faction are atheists, the other believers in a religion called Mithraism (probably not the right spelling).

Both sides send missions to colonize Kepler-22b, an exoplanet several hundred light years from Earth.  The atheists send a small ship with human embryos and two androids, Father and Mother, to incubate, birth, and then raise the resulting kids in the atheist ideology.  I say “ideology” because this ends up being pretty dogmatic version of atheism.  Unfortunately, the kids start getting sick and dying one by one.

The Mithraic approach is to send a lot of humans in suspended animation on a large ark type ship.  While their bodies are in suspended animation, the humans are conscious during the journey, and are able to communicate with each other in a virtual reality environment.  Since this large ship is much slower, it takes them several more years to arrive at the planet.

By the time they do, only one of the android’s children are left alive.  Father detects the arrival of the Mithraic ark and he and Mother begin debating what to do.  Father wants to hand the last child, Campion, over to the Mithraics, so at least he can be with other humans.  However, Mother is far more zealous in her ideology and refuses, violently.  When the Mithraics do arrive, it’s fair to say that everything quickly goes to hell.

It’s hard to go much further without getting into serious spoiler territory.  This is a very imaginative series, with lots of haunting otherworldly imagery, and visions of a human culture pretty far removed from ours.  There are no clear heroes or villains here, with both factions appearing to be dogmatic in their own way.  But one character in particular is turning out to be extremely dangerous.  And there are also plenty of twists and turns in the story, lots of surprises.

Also, be forewarned that this is not a happy tale.  The vision of the future presented is pretty grim.  That and this show is pretty stark in showing a lot of grizzly death.  Not a show to watch if you’re looking for something positive and life affirming.

Still, I’m enjoying it, and if science fiction is your thing, it might be worth checking out.

11 thoughts on “Raised by Wolves

  1. Yes we have to see where it goes from here. Itś quite entertaining. I never seem to find time to watch Succession, but the mental effort it takes me to watch these shows is almost zero, so I managed to watch the first episodes already. And it was busy because The Boys, a dark enjoyable parody on the superhero genre, also released 3 episodes of season two.
    Would the future also have religion? From the news I observe that Western religion seems mainly about intolerance towards sexual freedom and it’s consequenses. Basicly one man should marry one woman and they should have children. It a kind of sexual communism. Even if you start out as really pretty people, everybody will almost have the same happiness. Children are emotional parasites and you get bored of each other. But what if in the the future we could choose our own physical body and our own intelligence. A nation of equal attractive people. I do not see mass religion with it’s restrictions surviving. There will not be enough jealousy anymore to keep it going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen The Boys advertised, and it looks interesting, if pretty dark. But I’ve just never gotten drawn into it.

      On religion in the future, I’m in the US. One of the things I’ve often heard over the years is that when fascism comes to the US, it will be labeled “anti-fascism” and come draped in an American flag. By the same token, I tend to think the religions of the future won’t be called “religion”, but they’ll be ideologies that people adhere to with much the same intensity. Which means there will be those who get carried away it and try to enforce dogmatic purity tests.

      Will there be wars of the type we see in the show? I think most religious or ideological wars are actually wars about something else, usually something far more economic, with religion part of the sale to the populace. But it makes for a good backdrop for the show’s stories.


  2. I thought the show was interesting enough to continue watching. As Mike commented, the characters and settings are deliciously(?) alien. I only wish the science had been harder and/or more logical. The more I think about it, the more I find myself asking “if they can do this, why can’t they do that?”.

    It is another example of writers who really don’t get the singularity.

    [where are the drones? Androids don’t count. Even Star Wars had drones.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When it comes to technology in sci-fi stories, it’s generally tailored to the story the writers want to tell. So if X makes for a good plot point, but Y doesn’t, X will be possible and Y won’t. It’s sort of like the rules of magic in a fantasy story, but with the trappings of science. It all comes down to the type of story you want to tell.

      It is possible to tell interesting stories where people can copy their mind, but it takes away one of the easiest story elements, the threat of death. Many writers simply find it easier to rule out that capability so they can still have their characters be in jeopardy.

      That said, the drone question is an interesting one, since we already have those, and AI controlled ones should be trivial in that universe. The atheist versions can be excused that they didn’t have the cargo space. And with the Mithraics, you could say they all got destroyed in the crash. Every last one of them. 🙄


  3. Hi Mike,
    I’m glad I found your site with a blog while doing a search here, on WordPress, for blogs on history.
    I would like to comment on “Raise by Wolves”. I did not watch the HBO Max series and could not comment on it.
    However, I could comment on a concept like “raised by wolves” or other animals. In most cases, it is a pure phantasy. There is a whole group of scientists who study the wolf’s behavior. However, none of them lived with wolves in a natural environment long enough. … Until that was done by Jason Badridze. He studied the physiology of wolves’ behavior. Jason is one of the most amazing people on this planet. He lived in a pack of wolves for two years in Borjomi gorge in the Republic of Georgia.
    I have several small excerpts from the interview with Jason Badridze in my upcoming book “Subsurface History of Humanity”. Yet, I do not want to spoil you.
    You could read a whole interview here – Шура Буртин, Между человеком и волком, 04/26/2010, https://burtin.livejournal.com/24621.html (In Russian) – [Burtin, Between man and wolf]. The site and the interview are in Russian. You could you Google translate to get it in English.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Victor,
      Thanks for commenting! The title for the show is largely metaphorical. No actual wolves involved. I think it refers to kids being raised by androids, although there is at least one other plot point it could also refer to.

      Badridze’s story looks interesting. I don’t read Russian, so I dug up an English article.

      I’ll keep an eye out for your book!


      1. Hi Mike,
        The article you found on wolves is a retelling the real story. What Badridze actually told himself is mostly missing here. I still suggest to read a translation of an actual interview.
        Here is the excerpt from my translation from the original article.
        “- What was this pack?
        A wonderful family, the best of all. The older one was an old wolf, than a couple – father and mother, three outbreaks (grown puppies of past years), then the cubs appeared. The old man was no longer hunting. The she-wolf brought him food.”
        “- How do they hunt?
        Well, for example, the seasoned wolf jumps up, sits down, and begins to call others. They rub their noses. The seasoned one turns around, leaves about fifty meters, listens, returns, again some kind of contact – rubbing his nose, looking into each other’s eyes, sort of conferring and going hunting.”
        “They go down the path, stop, look into the eyes again – and everyone disperses. Functions on the hunt are distributed: one runs better, pushes, the second is better in ambush. There, for example, there was a huge meadow – a she-wolf and her daughter go to the forest, to the edge, a seasoned wolf attacks deer and drives, someone closes the path for him, they try to drive the deer closer to the edge – and there the wolf flies out.”
        “- And how do they agree, who will be where?
        That’s it. There is sound, odor, visual communication. But there is still some non-verbal connection, telepathic. This is very clearly visible before the hunt – they have kind of deliberate look into each other’s eyes, such a fixed look – and the beast turns around, goes and does what it turns out to be adequate to do at that moment. And when all the barriers [between me and wolves] disappeared, I also got it. So, I go hunting with them – the seasoned one turns around, looks into my eyes – and I run to where I need to. It then turns out that I went right and closed the deer’s path.”


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