Saturday, 7 May 2011

I love old sci-fi and there's nothing you can do about it!

I think the keyword here is context. I love to include, to surround my stories with the context in which they were written. I like to know dates, countries, who, how, why.

Perhaps I should explain.

Stories, all stories, and sci fi is no exception, are a mirror to ourselves. We pour into them our fears, our dreams, our fantasies. Sci fi in particular, as a form of future prediction, is moulded by what is around when it is written. In E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman saga, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is nuclear powered. Cars, planes, trains. Everything. And women are idiots. Well, at best, useless. (Although later in the series he introduces the first women sci fi character ever that is not stupid). Why? He was writing in 1949. The atomic age was 4 years old. And women were silly animals, kept at home.

And of course, a lot of the sci fi of the 50s, 60s and a bit of the 70s had to do with post-cataclysm Earth (the Cold War would do that to you)

The examples continue. In the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu the robot is as scary as a dead bunny to 2011's eyes, but at the time? An unstoppable, all powerful robot? People must have been pooping themselves. Oh and you see doctors smoking in a hospital. I kid you not, its amazing.

And of course, the Daleks. Can you imagine a stupider design for a dangerous being? But at the time they appeared, they were evil incarnate. No emotion except hatred. Weapons powerful enough to destroy everything. How the kids must have been scared out of their wits.

How does current sci fi equate? With difficulty. But there are still a few groundbreakers. Either having humanity taking all its crap to the stars (Babylon 5, Firefly), or having bad guys that are 'unstoppable' not because they are wildly advanced, but because of their beliefs (Battlestar Galactica).

Oh and the original Star Trek series has an episode with alien hippies. I am so serious, you have to see it to believe it....

I love it. And there's nothing you can do about it!