The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Alien

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Alien poster

Alien poster

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jones

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jones

The Best Dramatic Presentation category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, but was introduced in 1958, when it was won by The Incredible Shrinking Man. No Award won in 1959 followed by three years of The Twilight Zone and another No Award. The Award, called variously Best Dramatic Presentation and Best SF or Fantasy Movie, was given out annually from 1958 through 2002 when it was split into two categories, one for Short Form and one for Long Form. In 1980, the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.

In 1972, the British Fantasy Society began giving out the August Derleth Fantasy Awards for best novel as voted on by their members. In 1976 the name was changed to the British Fantasy Award, although the August Derleth name was still the name for the Best Novel Award. A category for Best Film was created in 1973 and ran years until 1990 and has not been replaced. In 1980, the awards were presented at Fantasycon VI in Birmingham.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968.  Eleven years later, Ridley Scott released Alien. Although one is generally thought of as a spiritual science fiction film and the other is a science fiction horror film, there are similarities between the two.

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IMHO: A Personal Look at Dystopian Fiction — Part Two: J.G. Ballard

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Empire of the Sun-small Crash Ballard-small The Wind from Nowhere Ballard-small

For the sake of this article, and not wanting to rely on memory alone, I’ve used a brief synopsis of each novel mentioned here, courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you read Part 1 of this article you’ll know about some of the older novels of dystopian fiction upon which I grew up, novels that surely inspired many other writers… novels I’d hate to see get tossed in a pile or in a corner to collect dust with all the other forgotten novels. Today I’m going to talk about one writer in particular: J. G. Ballard.

Ballard’s memoirs of being a kid during WWII were made into a fairly good film by Steven Spielberg, starring Christian Bale when he was just a kid: Empire of the Sun. Film director David Cronenberg turned Ballard’s strange, erotic and haunting novel Crash into a strange, erotic and haunting film. I’ve read most of Ballard’s short stories, and a number of his other novels, but my personal favorites are his Quartet of Elemental Apocalypse, as one critic dubbed the series. To me, they truly depict dystopian futures. Ballard had a great talent for creating interesting, believable characters, making his stories more character-driven than plot- or action-driven. He excelled at pitting ordinary people against extraordinary odds, and his plots contained many an unexpected twist and turn.

The Wind from Nowhere is Ballard’s debut novel published in 1961; he had previously published only short stories, which I also highly recommend. This is the novel that launched his apocalyptic quartet — his “series” dealing with scenarios of natural disasters. In this novel, civilization is reduced to ruins by prolonged worldwide hurricane force winds. As an added dimension, Ballard explores how disaster and tragedy can bond people together in ways that no normal experiences ever could.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Saturday, June 15th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented by the British Science Fiction Association since 1970 and were originally nominated for and voted on by the members of the Association. The Media Award was created in 1979, when it was won be the original series of the radio show The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In its first three years, the award was won by the first and second series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show as well as the record. The award was presented annually until 1992, when the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day won the final award.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally a radio show which aired on the BBC from March 8, 1978 to April 12, 1978, with an additional episode (called a fit) airing on December 24, 1978. The show was so popular that a stage show based on the radio show ran from May 1-9, 1979 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The first four episodes of the radio show were also adapted (with some alterations) for release on a double LP set in 1979 (released in the US and Canada in 1982). The recordings used the original scripts, but cut some sections for timing while adding in alternative lines that were cut from the radio shows (including one that I really enjoy). Most of the original radio cast returned for the record, although Susan Sheridan, who had voiced Trillian, was unavailable since she was recording the voice of Princess Eilonwy for Disney’s animated film The Black Cauldron, and was replaced by Cindy Oswin, who had performed the role in the ICA stage production.

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A One-Way Trip on the Road to Hell: Detour Gets the Criterion Treatment

Sunday, June 9th, 2019 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(3) Criterion Detour-small

I love extra features on Blu-rays and DVDs. I don’t just listen to commentaries, I listen to dull commentaries. I watch restoration comparisons and making-of documentaries. I listen to audio-only interviews with scriptwriters, production designers, and character actors. I ponder the effects of deleted scenes and alternate endings. I scrutinize stills galleries. I watch compilations of grainy on-location footage shot by local news stations. I read inserts and booklets, alternately nodding sagely and muttering sharp disagreements under my breath.

In short, I’m a Criterion junkie. For those throwbacks who still buy physical copies of movies, Criterions are the gold standard, both for image quality and extras, to say nothing of the wide range of films in the collection, which includes movies as radically different as The Blob and The Seventh Seal. The company itself boasts that it is “dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.” You’ll get no argument from me.

Every month I get an email from Criterion (they know when they have a fish well hooked) announcing six films that will be coming out in three month’s time. I always know that out of the eclectic mix of foreign films, American studio classics, indie sleepers, cult movies, and offbeat oddities, there will be one or two… or three… or four that I must have. (Just try finding Island of Lost Souls or Repo Man or City Lights on Netflix. Go ahead and try.)

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Goth Chick News: Well This Was Inevitable

Thursday, June 6th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Salem's Lot

There’s no stopping the juggernaut that is Stephen King.

Granted, there is quite a lot of distance between “in development” and a finished product, but after looking into each of these King-related projects, they all seem to be past the “development hell” stage where many projects languish eternally. So, in addition to recent reboots of Carrie, It: Chapter 1 and Pet Semetary which we’ve already seen, here’s the list of King big and small screen projects we can look forward to in 2019 and beyond.

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A Love Letter to the 80s: Rim of the World

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière

Rim-of-the-World-Poster-small

I was bored out of my tree last night, and so flipped through Netflix and stumbled across this film.  Remember that my friend Nate had recommended this movie, I decided to watch it. What the hay? It can’t be any worse than Bright. I was correct, it was not worse than Bright. It was a good deal better; a delightful, hilarious science fiction adventure that was a love letter to the films of the 80s that centered heroic children.

From IMDB:

Four misfit teenagers join forces to save the world when an alien invasion interrupts their summer camp.

If that doesn’t sound like the most 80s of plots, I don’t know what does.

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IMHO: A Personal Look at Dystopian Fiction — Part One

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

George Orwell 1984-small George Orwell Animal Farm-small Brave New World Aldous Huxley-small

For the sake of this 2-part article, and not wanting to rely on memory alone, I’ve used a brief synopsis of each novel mentioned here, courtesy of Wikipedia.

I haven’t read a dystopian novel in decades. Why? First, because I’ve read enough of them and after a while I got burned out. Second, because I started to see the direction in which our governments and our world were and are heading. Reality intruded upon fiction, and such novels began to depress me, even if they ended on a happy, upbeat and optimistic note. I now read for escapism, to be entertained, or educated if I’m reading history or biographies.

During the Depression of the 1930s, and even through WWII, escapist entertainment was extremely popular, especially in films, because people wanted to forget, even for a few hours, what was happening in the real world. Today, in the Information Age, we are bombarded by both real and fake news, and by the landslide of dark, world events. And yet, dystopian fiction, in both literature and the cinema, are more popular now than ever. Is this the new escapist entertainment for the 21st century? Perhaps. Now, I don’t know what every writer and film maker had or has in mind, but I do know that in the past, authors always had a clear agenda: they were writing cautionary tales.

What I intend to do with the first part of this 2-part article is to introduce readers to early and perhaps all but forgotten dystopian novels that I’ve read. These are books I think should not be forgotten, books that are must-read novels. Part 2 will deal with more recent fiction, as well as an “incomplete/partial” list of films. So let’s begin, shall we?

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Goth Chick News: Terror in Broad Daylight is Kind of Awesome

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Hey Lars-small

As the offspring of a Swedish immigrant, I grew up with a slightly augmented holiday calendar. For instance, Halloween was kind of a two-day thing in that my Swedish family celebrated All Saints Day on November 1. Easter was a four-day celebration that included not only ‘Good Friday’ but also ‘Easter Monday’ and the Christmas celebration started on December 24th and went straight through to Epiphany on January 6th, with pretty much non-stop partying for thirteen days. But one of my favorite Swedish holidays was Midsommar (or the Americanized “Midsummer”) which occurs toward the end of June; this year landing on June 21.

The Midsommar Festival in Sweden is steeped in magic, which the Swedes brought with them to America. Its origins can be traced back to the pagan celebrations around the summer solstice, and with winters being what they are in that part of the world, it’s no wonder the end of the long cold darkness was reason to dance. Flower rings were woven and worn as head dresses, there were large poles or majas decorated with greenery to dance around, and plenty of flirting; all to celebrate the awakening of Mother Earth. It was and still is a holiday to rival Christmas, and I remember the whole Swedish community gathering in a local forest preserve on Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day to eat, play music, dance, have a huge bonfire and generally banish old man winter. I also heard stories of Midsummer festivities “back home” where entire towns decamped to the countryside to do these same things only on a much grander scale.

Now, it is important to remember that, in spite of the general flower-laden celebratory feel of the Midsummer rituals, it is still a pagan festival at its heart, and that opens it up to all sorts of dark imaginings in the hands of certain movie makers.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Star Wars

Sunday, May 26th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

05-26 Star Wars 1 05-26 Star Wars 2 05-26 Star Wars 3

The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. The Film Hall of Fame Awards were not presented the first year the Balrogs were given out, being created in 1980. The SF Film Hall of Fame was given to two films each in its first and final years.

George Lucas’s film Star Wars isn’t just a film, it is a cultural phenomenon that has much longer tendrils than most people realize. Star Wars and its sequels have touched all aspects of film making, marketing, computing, culture, and more. A list of the companies that were founded because of Star Wars’s success is absolutely staggering. Obviously, there was LucasArts, ILM, Lucasfilm Animation, Skywalker Sound, Pixar, THX, Kerner Optical, and dozens more. The massive footprint of Star Wars makes it a little difficult to write about in the same way other articles in the series are structured.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Friday, May 10th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

05-10 2001 1 05-10 2001 2 05-10 2001 3

The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. The Film Hall of Fame Awards were not presented the first year the Balrogs were given out, being created in 1980. The SF Film Hall of Fame was given to two films each in its first and final years.

Filmed by Stanley Kubrick and based on several short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: a space odyssey was released to theatres in April of 1968, it was nothing like the B science fiction films which preceded it.  Kubrick, guided by Clarke, attempted to make a realistic portrayal of space flight, even if it did have an ending that would appeal to the drug culture of the period.

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