I was reminded the other day of a wonderful 1948 story I read as a kid, ‘In Hiding’, by Wilmar Shiras (1908-1990). I read it in a 1960s-era anthology of sci-fi stories, and it left a huge impression on me. Shiras wrote it, apparently, for her children. And the plot was straight forward: a school … More What makes people smart?
Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (1962) impressed me for lot of reasons when I first read it. The book still does – not least because, seven years before the first Moon landings, he predicted (a) that the only life found on the Moon would be bacteria retrieved from human-built probes, and (b) the … More The writers who predicted the future
I recently read Stephen Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind, the official sequel to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Back in the day there were a fair number of unofficial sequels to Wells’ classic – mostly involving the intrepid Brits inventing spacecraft and heading off to Mars to give those rotten old Martians a … More Mars attacks – 1920 style
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
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