A couple of months ago here at Black Gate, I wrote about my first heroes, mainly the fictional ones I recall from my boyhood in the 1970s. Spider-Man came to mind, as did Steve Austin and a few others. Then not so long ago, over at his Facebook page, author Nick Ozment asked something along the lines of, “What was the first movie you watched inside an actual theater?” That question got me thinking.
Before going further, though, I’d like to point out to the younger crowd reading this that Nick’s question might sound somewhat unusual, but it really isn’t. For many of us with gray hair, as kids we didn’t have streaming services or DVD players. Heck, before the mid-1980s or thereabouts, many of us didn’t have VCR players or even cable television. So, it might seem that our only option for watching movies was in a theater, but that was not the case. We might have only had three or four channels on our television, but there was always a movie of the week on Friday nights, usually a famous movie, even a blockbuster, but most times it had been edited for length and adult language. More importantly, we watched a lot of movies at the drive-in theaters. And I mean a lot of movies. If I had to hazard a guess, before 1980 I probably only ever saw a movie in an indoor theater maybe a half dozen times, but I had watched scores, maybe hundreds, of movies at drive-in theaters.
Okay, okay, back to Nick Ozment’s question. “What was the first movie you watched inside an actual theater?” When I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with a definitive answer. The best I could do was guess, and only two movies came to mind. One was Godzilla vs. Megalon, the other being The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.
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.
The science fiction world has been abuzz with the release of the novel Semiosis by Sue Burke. Known for her short stories in publications such as Interzone and Asimov’s, this Clarion alumnus is now making waves with her debut novel, out from Tor this month. James Patrick Kelly said it’s “a first contact novel like none you’ve ever read… The kind of story for which science fiction was invented.” David Brin wrote, “In Semiosis, Sue Burke blends science with adventure and fascinating characters, as a human colony desperately seeks to join the ecosystem of an alien world.”
Those recommendations would be enough for me to buy a copy if I hadn’t already read it several years ago. Sue and I used to be in the Madrid Writer’s Critique Group here in Spain before she moved back to Chicago. The early draft I read fascinated me with its tale of human colonists settling on a planet only to find that is already inhabited by intelligent life… plant life. I caught up with Sue to talk with her about her new publication.
What was the seed of an idea that grew into a giant, sentient plant?
Seed… I see what you did there.
It started back in the mid-1990s when a couple of my houseplants attacked other houseplants. One vine wrapped around a neighbor, and another vine tried to sink roots into another plant. I began researching botany and discovered that plants are active, aggressive, and fight to the death for sunlight. They have weapons and cunning strategies, both offensive and defensive.
For example, strangler figs (several varieties of Ficus) start as seedlings germinating up on tree branches and trunks in jungles, and as they grow, their roots wrap around the host tree and eventually strangle and kill it. The fig starts halfway up to sunshine, which is an advantage. But how do the seeds get up there? Birds eat fig fruit, and the seeds have a gluey covering that sticks to a bird’s feathers when it defecates. The bird wipes off its vent on tree branches and trunks, where the seeds adhere and germinate.