A Century of Film


The Genre

Science Fiction on film goes back to the dawn of narrative feature film storytelling.  The first great film, A Trip to the Moon, was a Sci-Fi film complete with state of the art special effects.  But not everyone could be George Méliès and not very many people tried.  I’ve only seen three Sci-Fi films made before the advent of sound (and there’s not much out there at feature length that I haven’t seen) and all of them were foreign (A Trip to Mars, Aelita: Queen of Mars, Metropolis).

The genre mostly lay dormant in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  If you click on those links, the vast majority of what is listed there (and even what is listed there isn’t very long) is either a serial (which I don’t count) or something I list as another genre (often Horror).  I’ve seen just 11 films from those two decades which I count (and none after 1941).  Then came the 50’s. (more…)

The Tripods Trilogy:

  1. The White Mountains
  2. The City of Gold and Lead
  3. The Pool of Fire
  • Author:  John Christopher  (1922-2012)
  • Published:  1967 / 1968 / 1969
  • Publisher:  Hamish Hamilton
  • Pages:  650
  • First Line:  “Apart from the one in the church tower, there were five clocks in the village that kept reasonable time, and my father owned one of them.”
  • Last Lines:  “The air was cold but exhilarating.  A gust of wind scattered powdery snow from the face of the Jungfrau.  ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ll leave my seas and islands.'”
  • Film:  television version  (1984)
  • First Read:  1987  (as a book)


Get ready for Series 10 with our Doctor lists.

Veronica’s Intro: I started watching Doctor Who because of Harry Potter.  I was rewatching Goblet of Fire for the umpteenth time and found myself thinking, “Barty Crouch Jr. is a really horrifying character, but the guy playing him is really compelling.” Okay, I may not have used the word “compelling,” but you get the idea. All I really knew about him was that he played Doctor Who and that a new season (or series if we want to be British about it) was coming to BBC America. Ironically, it was 2010, so the first episode I watched was The Eleventh Hour featuring Matt Smith, not David Tennant. And while I still have a huge crush on David Tennant, I don’t actually love his Doctor, but I appreciate that he’s what drew me in. I do, however, love Smith’s Doctor because he is a clown and all of my favorite Doctors are clowns: Troughton, Smith, and McCoy. Granted, they are clowns covering up deep pain and immense power and intrigue, but you never doubt they care for their companions and that they trying to make things better, even when they are running away.

Erik’s Intro:  I wrote more on the Doctors than Veronica did because writing is my thing.  I first started watching Doctor Who when I was a Freshman at Brandeis and I met a group of like minded geeks and we would gather to watch that and Black Adder on Saturday nights.  I never really took to Adder like I did to Who.  Watching those Fourth Doctor adventures, with Sarah Jane Smith as a companion was great fun and nights like those were really the only things I missed when I decided to leave Brandeis after just one semester.  It was after Veronica got into watching Matt Smith that I insisted we should do it right.  We started with the halfway measure, watching from the start of the new series, but after catching up (in 2012), we bounced all the way back to the beginning and began everything with Hartnell and did it right.  And long, as it took us five years. (more…)


The Five Doctors

Eventually, once Veronica and I have watched our way through all of Doctor Who, there will be a variety of lists to go up, much like we did with Star Trek.  It’ll take quite a while. We were on Season 10 when I did a very small bit on it back in March of 2013.  The other day we finished Season 20.  That leaves us six more seasons and the movie before we finally get the lists up.  Quite probably the trickiest will be the list where we rank all the Doctors. (more…)

stktosSo, it’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, with the first episode having aired on 8 September 1966.  Veronica and I have finished re-watching the original series.  There were several episodes that either Veronica had never seen or had forgotten.  I watched every episode at least once as a kid, what with my Uncle Steve having been an original fan and having every episode on tape (albeit, on Beta).  Also, KCOP, channel 13 in LA, used to air them every night at 11.  I remember watching them every night in high school, although, guaranteed, I would fall asleep in the middle of Spock’s Brain every time, and with good reason. (more…)

Geosynchron: the finale of the Jump 225 Trilogy

When you’re an unpublished writer and someone you know gets a book published, it’s a tough thing.  If you like the person, you should support them and buy the book.  But it can still leave you feeling a bit ambiguous, in that they are successful in a field that you have not found success in yet.  It makes it a hell of a lot easier when the book is good.  I’ve known David Louis Edelman for close to thirty years.  He has been a friend of both me and my sister and his sister is one of my dearest friends.  That said, my full-on recommendation of his Jump 225 Trilogy, which concludes with Geosynchron, has nothing to do with that connection.  It did have something to do with why I heard about it in the first place and read the first one.  But it is my enthusiasm for the series, my joy at what I have read over the course of the three novels, and the notion that this book is great fun that leads me to encourage people to read it.  And I am most certainly encouraging people to read it.  If you ask for a book at the Brookline Booksmith, I’ll recommend it.  I’m writing about it here so you can go find it.  I’ve put in an official recommendation to Indiebound, the official brochure of Independent bookstores. (more…)

Multireal by David Louis Edelman

Multireal by David Louis Edelman

On the night that I first started reading David Louis Edelman’s Multireal, I was undergoing a sleep study at Mt. Auburn Hospital.  My neurologist was trying to determine a cause for the headaches I have been having for the last twenty years or so (dating back to high school, which makes this a good time to disclose that David and I went to high school together).  While immersing myself in the intricate story of the way Bio/Logic programming has brought about an amazing new world and open up the possibilities of the future, I turned my head to the left and noticed that the 17 electrodes attached to various parts of my head were hooked up to an electronics box made by a company called Bio-Logic.

So the first thing David’s book does is pass the Hunt for Red October test.  In Hunt, when trying to determine what the doors that house the Caterpillar Drive could be, he asks Jeffrey Jones, “Could you launch an ICBM horizontally?”  Jones replies, “Sure.  Why would you want to?”

Any good Science Fiction novel must pass the Hunt test.  It’s not enough to create a world of amazing possibilites and incredible technology.  There must be a reason these technologies were developed.  Things that people don’t need eventually fall by the wayside.  They can sound neat on the page (and eventually look neat on screen), but if they don’t have a practical purpose, then it’s just flashiness.  In other words, sloppy writing.  Well, Multireal passes the test with flying colors.


the slogan says it all

the slogan says it all

AFI did a much better job with Science Fiction than with other genres (in their 50 choices on the ballot, most of them either being actual Sci-Fi films, with a few Horror films). The odd omissions were the fact that the only Star Wars film was A New Hope, the complete absence of Dark City or Fifth Element and considering Brazil a Fantasy film rather than Sci-Fi.

The film that is going to be missing here is A Clockwork Orange. It would probably rank second on my list if I considered it Science Fiction, but I don’t. I consider it a Horror film more than anything else, but it’s also Social Drama (or very Black Comedy).

It’s a little weird to do this list this week. Clone Wars opens on Friday and I really can’t make myself care very much. But I’m wearing my Darth Vader “Revenge” shirt. I own hundreds of figures (including all the original figures released from 77-83). I have 17 boxes of Star Wars stuff. But an animated movie in a style I don’t much care for about a story which can’t be that compelling when it comes between two stories we’ve already been told just doesn’t interest me that much. And for the record, if this list was expanded to 20, it would include Revenge of the Sith, so don’t go thinking I’m one of those prequel trilogy haters, because I’m not. (more…)