"Beyond the Aquila rift" is a short film in the Netflix series "Love, Death and Robots". For those that haven't seen it, I highly recommend you do before reading.

This is one of those films that can be seemingly interpreted in multiple ways. Now, I have an interpretation that I think follows the hidden messages much more closely and is more satisfying than any I've seen on the internet/YouTube. But, I want to post it here to see if others agree with it and possibly poke holes in it. For the remainder of this post, I'll assume you've seen the film.

The obvious question after you watch the film is "what the heck is going on". We know there is this spider that is feeding a simulated reality to the crew of the ship. Why is she doing this?

The most common explanation you'll see is that she isn't a malevolent creature and the ship ended up there due to some error and she is now trying to ease the people's pain before they die.

This explanation is hard to digest for me. Here is my case for this - first, we clearly see that the creature is a spider and the ship is trapped in a web. When you see a fly trapped in a spiders web, do you consider it got there "by accident"? The symbolism is similarly clear here. We see the ships trapped in a web. Not crashed on a planet, not orbiting a black hole, trapped in a web. So, the spider is lying when she says they got their due to an error. Further proof of this? The first time she wakes Susie, Susie is confused and wants to know what the heck happened. However, as soon as she tries to access the ships logs to make sense of things, BOOM! - she faints. Also, the second time Susie wakes up, she claims she's been having dreams involving the spider, meaning these games are being played on her in parallel to Thom. Now if the spider trapped them, why did she do this, what does she want from them?

I think she's running a hive mind and wants to assimilate minds into it. A regular spider builds webs for sustenance. However, this spider is capable of trapping ships traveling at interstellar speeds. So, it's highly unlikely she needs to bodies of the humans for sustenance. Besides if she did, she would just eat them without waking them. Instead, she needs their minds. However, just like a regular spider must prepare and break down the flies before they can be assimilated into her body, this one needs to break down the minds before they can be assimilated into the hive. This explains why she tells Thom that the Earth is now 100 years ahead of when he left it and there is no point returning so why doesn't he just stay with her. She also says he's "not ready" when he says he wants to see the truth, meaning at some point he will be "ready" and there is a plan for him when he is.

It's also clear that her mind games (or mind breaking process) just isn't working on Suzy who immediately starts seeing through her stories with logic. Suzie is visibly much more shaken the second time than the first, claiming she's been having dreams about the spider.

Finally, I think the spider actually wasn't lying when she said she was Greta. I think Greta was probably on one of those other ships, arriving a few hundred years earlier and has been assimilated into the hive mind. So in a way she "is Greta". I feel this series basically answers the question posed here - https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html quoting -

"Now imagine that you made a spider much, much smarter—so much so that it far surpassed human intelligence? Would it then become familiar to us and feel human emotions like empathy and humor and love? No, it wouldn’t, because there’s no reason becoming smarter would make it more human—it would be incredibly smart but also still fundamentally a spider in its core inner workings. I find this unbelievably creepy. I would not want to spend time with a super-intelligent spider. Would you?? "

closed as primarily opinion-based by Cadence, Adele C, amflare, Mithrandir, TheLethalCarrot Apr 14 at 7:55

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The novel is much more clear. She is not malevolent at all and in fact cares for thousands of refugees from different species and feels extremely maternal to them all. It is implied she is something like a queen of a eusocial species and sees the lost as her children now and honestly loves them.

The sex scene was actually pivotal in the novel. In it the main character was married back home. She didn't think he could mentally handle the fact his wife was already dead, so didn't let him in on the truth until he slept with her, showing that he could get over the loss of his wife.

Suzie was dead all along, he was the only survivor, waking up the others was always a simulation, by having him repeatedly attempt to wake up the others and them not being able to handle it the idea was to soften the blow when the truth was eventually revealed to him, as he would have experienced it from the other side. This didn't really translate well to the animation however.

Note that everyone there is lost against their will. No one was trapped on purpose, the creature just decided it was it's calling to help and comfort all that came later as best she could.

  • Thanks for the background. Haven't read the novel, but is it possible this was the creature simply manipulating them and the reader simply seeing the story it is selling them. In the film, we clearly see the ships caught in a web. If there was a routing error bringing everyone there, why are they stuck in a web? How clear is the novel about this? – Rohit Pandey Apr 14 at 7:16
  • Also in the film, Suzie gets knocked out just when she says she's going to investigate the ships logs. Greta is right there with a convenient explanation - "tank sickness". This to me is a clear hint Greta doesn't want her to go nosing about in the ships logs (we already know she can knock people out in her simulation at will). Was there something like this in the novel? – Rohit Pandey Apr 14 at 7:23
  • In the novel (short story really) Suzie never said anything about Greta not being who she was. Because Suzie and the other guy had both died due to the paint on the inside of their sleep Chambers poisoning them (they kept the detail in the show that only theirs were painted). The fake Suzie kept being able to not take it psychologically and have A breakdown as he tried different ways to wake her up. This was Greta trying to prepare him for hearing the news himself, Suzie was having the type of breakdown Greta expected him to have. – John Meacham Apr 14 at 8:33
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    Note that Zima Blue was another story by the same author, Alastair Reynolds. If you enjoyed those I can very highly recommend him. – John Meacham Apr 14 at 8:41
  • What novel are you speaking about? Is it a novel from Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant magazine (which was the inspiration of the Heavy Metal movie, of which Love, Death and Robots is a reboot)? – Taladris Aug 25 at 12:54

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