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H+ and the Name Francis


Some of you may have already noticed that in H+ The Digital Series there is a repetition regarding the name Francis and its variations. But what you may not know (unless you’re REALLY studied up on the series) is that it’s actually become very serendipitous during the making of this series.

I suppose it starts with the fact that Cosimo De Tommaso’s sister is named Francesca…

Which definitely inspired the character Francesca Rossi and perhaps subconsciously Francis Peters.

Then we cast actors named Francesca Fanti and Francesco Martino completely by coincidence… as well as Caitriona Balfe who has a brother named Francis (which is particularly serendipitous if you’ve really studied this series well).

A few members of the H+ crew have the name (ie, Francisca Torres, Matthew Francis Wilson) which certainly wasn’t lost on us during the shoot itself.

So what’s up with this?

It’s a very Catholic name, that’s for sure… and H+ certainly has its fair share of Catholic themes. Clearly, we wanted to tell a story that looked at the two most prominent ways humans have been trying to understand their universe… science and religion. But we weren’t specifically looking to infuse it with these types of strange symbolic coincidences.

Most people who know me, know that I’m not religious. Not at all. But I was raised Roman Catholic and so I do remember a great deal from my youth. I’m sure there was plenty that ended up in this story that was an unconscious flashback to my upbringing in the Catholic Church. How could it not. Over the past 25 years, however, I’ve grown into a very analytic thinker… very skeptical of anything that can’t hold up to scientific inquiry.

And yet with the first Pope in history just now taking the name Francesco, a serendipity seems to persist surrounding our work on H+… a piece of predictive futurist fiction, after all. And it’s one that’s hard to ignore or explain other than saying, “it’s just coincidence, move on”.

But I don’t want to move on. I want there to be a significance.

That doesn’t have anything to do with the scientific method, though, does it?


  1. “Over the past 25 years, however, I’ve grown into a very analytic thinker… very skeptical of anything that can’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

    It’s interesting you’d say that, John. You and Cosimo did a great job working in the idea that, despite what others would commonly argue, science and religion can not only co-exist, but also help explain each other to an extent. I have no idea if that was intentional, but that’s what I took out of it anyways (or at least from the Meta Data episode).

  2. To me it seems that ‘science and religion’ are less ‘the two most prominent ways humans have been trying to understand their universe… ‘ but, rather, ways of coping with it, and, at first, were not separate. You can handle what’s more powerful than you either by trying to negotiate with it (prayer) or by trying to outwit it (science) – once you’ve figured out how it works. While the second approach has done a lot and solved lots or problems, it has not, and probably never will, solved humanity’s most basic and pressing problems – us being finite, vulnerable specks of dust lost in a huge universe.
    So, while science is often used as a mental weapon against narrow-minded, stifling religions claiming to know all that’s important already, like the Fundamentalist strains, it is in itself limited,(also, by now, in daily life, often it’s just the guys in the white coats whom we’re supposed to believe, instead of those in the black ones). So, to me, it’s one of the greatest hopes that what those guys have figured out is not all that is to find out, that there are more things between heaven and earth than logic and reason can fathom (yet). Thus, I am equally obsessed by serependity and other clues which might or might not point to something. Like Astrology. IF everything is connected, it might point out something, like pins on a dashboard. I’m fascinated by the idea that the internet might be just a material copy of something, a kind of etheral net, that has always existed, that has been traveled by shamans of all ages.
    I would never insists, though, that this is anything but (my) fantasy.
    No, I haven’t watched H+ yet (probably can’t – the universe is huge, small(minded)earth is full of barriers) – but I think I get the general idea. If your intuition were any stronger, you might have called it F+ in the first place.
    By the way, there’s a journalist on Twitter called @MCaruso_Cabrera
    Have a great Saturday full of pleasant serependitities!

  3. Daniel, apologies for not responding sooner. For whatever reason I didn’t see this comment until now. Thanks for the compliment. When I write characters, I try not to write my specific views on a subject but rather the individual views of the characters. You got from the series what we intended.

    What Raiz says certainly speaks to this idea of science and religion perhaps being reflections of each other, and his words just felt honest coming from him while we were writing it… Kenneth’s role in the story at that point is the student, and since he has little left to learn regarding science alone… he needs someone to open a new set of doors for him.

    In many ways, I feel like I’m often the Kenneth of that scene. Refusing to admit that there are mysteries our modern approach to science can’t and may never be able to explain… scoffing at the mystics or the devout for resting on their faith. Sometimes to the point that I would rather accept beautiful serendipity as just mundane coincidence.

    But you know, it’s interesting that the concept of the soul (an idea that many scientist reject) has so many similarities to theoretical concepts of mind mapping and uploading. The idea that who we are is not confined to flesh and blood anymore. That who we are can live and interact with others in a variety of ways independent or disconnected from our physical form (like in a blog’s comments). And perhaps one day through science we may be able to live on past our physical form… If it doesn’t already in a way we have yet to understand completely.

  4. Beate, I think you make a good point about Religion trying to negotiate and Science outwit… But I wouldn’t say it’s Religion and Science in those examples, but rather certain religious folks and certain scientists. And I would go even further and say not all of them. I don’t know if it’s even most of them, really.

    There are certainly plenty of religious people who approach prayer not as negotiation but rather meditative reflection and a way of developing a deeper relationship (ie understanding) of their God.

    Likewise many scientists and mathematician go down the rabbit hole for no other reason than the burning need to better understand their universe (ie their God). Not necessarily to control the universe. In fact, most of the innovations that harness the power of the universe are built on the observations and conclusions made by someone else. Someone who wasn’t actually interested in creating anything that could outwit the universe. Einstein wasn’t interested in harnessing the power of the atom. He was interested in understanding it. That’s not so far from what many modern theologians are working on in their own way.

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