One of my pet irritations with some science fiction is the way authors often succumb to the ‘recency effect’ when inserting the ‘science’ part into their stories. What usually happens is that a recent discovery, looming large and appearing to transform understanding, becomes a raison d’etre or story pivot – except, not long afterwards, that … More Why science fiction dates so horribly, sometimes
Here’s a conundrum for you. What’s the best sci-fi spaceship ever? What makes it your favourite? There have been so many really neat sci-fi spaceships that there’s no right answer – or maybe any single answer – to this one. We’ll all have our favourites, and they’re all valid. I don’t have any single favourite. … More What is the best sci-fi spaceship ever?
Has anybody read Bored of the Rings? Yes, I typed that right. It’s the Harvard Lampoon parody of the well known fantasy trilogy by a certain Oxford Professor. One of the funniest scenes – for me, anyway – is where the adventurers are attacked by a Thesaurus, a monster with a pronounced gazetteer and large … More Bored of the Rings versus Bill the Galactic Hero
There’s an old story about the difference between cats and dogs. Feed a dog, and it thinks ‘wow, I’ve been fed. Humans must be gods’. Feed a cat and it thinks ‘Yawn. My staff are passable, but as I am a god, perhaps I should find better?’ Actually I suspect what dogs (especially Labradors) think … More How cats and dogs teach us about aliens
I watched Forbidden Planet the other day, for the first time in a very long while. And a lot of stuff sprang out at me that I’d forgotten, or which I’d maybe not noticed. Not seen it? It’s worth checking out. Sure, it was made in 1956 and has a kind of ‘American Modern’ feel … More Ten reasons why ‘Forbidden Planet’ is still cool after 61 years
It’s a century since a transport company was founded in my home town of Napier with the epithet Aard. A word that founder R. R. Woodcock coined so he’d be at the very front of the phone book. He knew what was doing. It’s a lesson driven home to me whenever I walk into bookshops … More Being a writer with a name at the end of the alphabet
Has anybody seen much 1950s-era Hollywood sci-fi? By 1950s I mean more than just 1950-59 (or 1951-60, depending on how you count) – I mean a mind-set that broadly kicked off at the end of the 1940s, which lasted at least until the early 1960s – and which spawned a whole era of amazingly silly … More Hollywood fifties sci-fi – a tribute to the golden age of cheesiness