TLW's Science Fiction Historyscope
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: May 11, 2013. Last Update: Dec. 10, 2018.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to science fiction (sci-fi) history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
After the Age of Faith, science fiction started out against the law, a heresy subject to torture and burning at the stake. Never forget that when wearing your Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia costume. Modern-day science-fiction is becoming a virtual global religion, uniting all of humanity under endless scenarios about the past, present, and future, all driven by science and technology rather than divine beings, although they're still often worked into it. With virtual reality and 3-D technology advancing daily, we can only guess what great sci-fi products will come down the pipe, but we must always be aware of the history so we can truly appreciate it. Looming over everything is the Millennial Fever caused by believers in a coming Armageddon. Stay tuned by staying alive.
Science fiction literature falls into several genres, incl. alien invasion fiction, hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, military sci-fi, parallel universe (alternate reality) fiction, space opera, cyberpunk, time travel fiction, dystopian sci-fi, robot sci-fi, superhuman sci-fi, and apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.
In 1516 London-born Roman Catholic humanist statesman Sir (St.) Thomas More (1478-1535) pub. Utopia (Gr. "no place" - pun on "good place"); Amerigo Vespucci crewmember Ralph Hythlodaye tells about his visit to an island where land is owned in common by the snobs (with plenty of slaves for the menial work), everybody has a job, and there is universal education and religious toleration, contrasting this perfect society with the hell-hole of England; it eventually spawns the English Poor Laws, and becomes the father of Communism?; influences Nostradamus?; since More wears an itchy-scratchy goat hair shirt for most of his life, judge it by the source?
On Feb. 17, 1600 after Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) demands a full recantation of his philosophy, and he appeals to Pope Clement VIII hoping only for a partial recantation, and the pope responds by telling them to burn the bum, Italian philosopher Giordano Roddenberry, er, Giordano Bruno (b. 1548) tells them "Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it", then is led naked to the Campo de' Fiori in Rome, "his tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words", and burned at the stake for his heretical opinions, esp. the infinity of inhabited worlds; "He insisted till the end always in his damned refractoriness and twisted brain and his mind with a thousand errors. Yes, he didn't give up his stubbornness, not even when the court ushers took him away to the Campo de' Fiori. There his clothes were taken off, he was bound to a stake and burned alive. In all this time he was accompanied by our fraternity, who sang constant litanies, while the comforters tried till the last moment to break his stubborn resistance, till he gave up his miserable and pitiable life" (Fraternity of St. John the Beheaded, 1889); his works are placed on the Vatican's Prohibited Index in 1603, and he becomes a martyr to Trekkies, er, scientists, who claim he was burned just for his Copernican views, causing the Church to claim it was only because of his heretical religious beliefs, incl. that Jesus Christ was merely a magician, the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, and the Devil can be saved, although the Church gives it away at the time by using the same rooms where he is questioned to persecute Galileo Galilei; his death seems to propel scientific effort in Protestant countries; in 1889 a monument to him backed by Victor Hugo, Herbert Spencer, Ernest Renan, Ernst Haeckel, Henrik Ibsen et al. is erected on the site of his execution, and another is erected in Berlin on Mar. 2, 2008; in 2000 Pope John Paul II expresses "profound sorrow" for what his church did - Burn Bruno Burn is how many years from Live Long and Prosper?
After this warning, until the 19th cent. sci-fi writers prefer to pub. posthumously or disguise sci-fi as travels in uncharted territory on Earth rather than tangle with the Church.
In 1638 Hannington, Northamptonshire-born Bishop Frances Godwin (1562-1633) posth. pub. The Man in the Moone: or A Discourse of a Voyage Thither by Domingo Gonsales, the Speedy Messenger, the first known science fiction (sci-fi) work - the origin of Speedy Gonzales?
In 1651-7 Aragon, Spain-born Jesuit Baltasar Gracian y Morales (Gracián y Morales) (1601-58) pub. his masterpiece Criticon (3 vols.), under the alias Gracia de Marlones, a Byzantine picaresque novel about Critilo ("critical man") and Andrenio ("natural man"), who go on a voyage to the Isle of Immortality; gets him punished by his Jesuit superiors; Daniel Defoe gets the idea of Robinson Crusoe from it; its pessimism later makes a fan of Arthur Schopenhauer.
In 1666 Mary Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623-73) pub. The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World; crude sci-fi about a new world where she is Empress Margaret I.
In 1704 Dublin-born Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) pub. A Tale of a Tub; his first major work, pub. anon.; satire about three brothers, each representing a major branch of Christianity; despite getting his cousin Thomas to claim authorship, it damages his prospects in the Church of England. In 1726 he pub. Gulliver's Travels (Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships); Lemuel Gulliver visits the countries of Lilliput (6-in. tall people, their city of Mildendo surrounded by a 2.5-ft. wall), Blefuscu (ditto), Brobdingnag (60-ft. tall giants), Laputa (flying island of scientific quacks), Glubdubdrib (sorcerers), Luggnag (island where the Stuldbrugs live forever), the land of the Houyhnhnms, where intelligent horses rule over savage humanoid Yahoos, and Balnibarbi (inventors and projectors, capital Lagado); a satire of all things English, or just English modernism?
In 1706 English writer Daniel Defoe (De Foe) (1659-1731) pub. A Relation of the Apparition of Mrs. Veal. In 1719 he pub. The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; the first English novel?; based on the life of Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721); spends 24 years on a desert island, where he is saved from cannibals by Friday on guess what day, and makes an umbrella out of skins; how white Euros can achieve salvation via work, the conquering of loneliness, and recognition of the inequality of human relations; "The aptest treatise on natural education" (Jean-Jacques Rousseau). In 1720 Defoe pub. Captain Singleton, Memoirs of a Cavalier. In 1722 he pub. The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (picaresque); also The History and Remarkable Life of the Truly Honorable Colonel Jack, Another Robinson Crusoe. In 1723 he pub. Highland Rogue; about Rob Roy (1671-1734), making him a legend, and causing George I to pardon him in 1727 just before he is scheduled to be transported to the colonies. In 1724 he pub. Roxana, or the Fortunate Mistress. In 1726 he pub. The Four Years Voyages of Captain George Roberts.
In 1752 French lit. giant Voltaire (1694-1778) pub. Micromegas (Micromégas), about 20K-ft.-tall aliens Saturn and Sirius, who visit Earth and become amused at how self-important miniscule earthlings are, pioneering sci-fi. In 1756 he pub. Plato's Dream, about Demiurgos the Eternal Geometer, who tasks "lesser superbeings" to create their own worlds, with Demogorgon creating Earth, which the other superbeings laugh at as imperfect, embarrassing Demiurgos, who had declared himself the only being capable of creating perfection and had obviously goofed with his lesser superbeings.
In 1781 French Jansenist-educated mainly porno writer Nicolas-Edme Restif (Rétif) (1734-1806) (coiner of the term "communism" in 1785) pub. La Découverte Australe par un Homme-Volant, proto-science-fiction notorious for its prophetic inventions.
In 1800 Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) of Italy makes the shocking discovery of the Voltaic Pile; the first one is made of zinc and copper metal plates and wet cardboard soaked in salt solution, and he later substitutes silver for copper and cloth for cardboard to build bigger piles from which he can draw sparks and shocks, amazing the world and causing a sensation; in May W. Nicholson and A. Carlile use a voltaic pile to decompose water, observing oxygen appearing at one pile and hydrogen at the other, adding to the sensationalism with the idea that atoms are held together by electricity - and hence immortality is just around the corner? In 1818 London-born Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) pub. the Gothic romance novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, about a mad scientist who makes a corpse live again via electricity; she got the idea while in a trance based on the writings of alchemists about creating a homunculus in a test tube, "a pale student of the unhallowed arts [grave-robbing] kneeling beside the thing he had put together"; "I beheld the wrath of the miserable monster whom I had created"; "I curse (although I curse myself) the hands that formed you" - could it have really been based on her hubby Percy's anatomy?
In 1813 Dutch poet Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831) pub. A Short Account of a Remarkable Aerial Voyage and Discovery of a New Planet, pioneering burning-at-the-stake-free science fiction.
In 1828 Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73) pub. Pelham, or, Adventures of a Gentleman; keeps gossips guessing which real dandies are being described, making him a celeb. In 1829 he pub. Devereux. In 1830 he pub. Paul Clifford; becomes infamous for its opening line "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents...", later made famous by Snoopy and a U.S. writing contest. In 1832 he pub. Eugene Aram. In 1833 he pub. Godolphin; bestseller. In 1834 he pub. The Last Days of Pompeii; inspired by Karl Briullov's painting; The Pilgrims of the Rhine. In 1835 he pub. Rienzi. In 1842 he pub. Zanoni. In 1848 he pub. Harold: Last of the Saxon Kings. In 1857 he pub. The Haunted and the Haunters (The House and the Brain). In 1870 he pub. Vril: The Power of the Coming Race; a subterranean humanoid race get mental powers from the Vril energy fluid; inspires science fiction and Nazi mysticism?; later used in the name of the beef extract Bovril.
In 1863 after giving up law training and a job as stock broker to write "voyages extraordinares", Nantes-born Jules Gabriel Verne (1828-1905) pub. his first novel Five Weeks in a Balloon; or, Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Englishmen - whites see darkest Africa from the air, wishing the gulf were permanent and it remains a nature preserve? In 1864 he pub. Journey to the Center of the Earth; enters through a volcano in Iceland, emerges in Stromboli Island; Otto Lindenbrock - a lot of Southerners would like to go with him? In 1865 he pub. From the Earth to the Moon; three scientists and a journalist get shot from a cannon in Cape Canaveral, Fla. In 1870 he pub. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Underwater Tour of the World; the linear distance traveled is 69,060 mi.; narrated by Prof. Pierre Aronnax; Capt. Nemo and the Nautilus battle a giant squid; in the sequel The Mysterious Island (1874) (named after Abe Lincoln) he is revealed to really be Prince Dakkar, and is buried in his tub. On Jan. 30, 1873 he pub. Around the World in Eighty Days; a whist game at the Reform Club of London on Oct. 2, 1872 leads to a £20K wager, followed by a trip by airgonaut Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passepartout and a Gladstone bag filled with money from London to Suez, India (Bombay, Calcutta) (during which they rescue Aouda from the funeral pyre of her dead hubby), Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York City, and back to London, all while being chased by the London bobby Fix, who believes they robbed the Bank of England for £55K, and arrests them after they arrive in London 5 min. late, after which they discover that they gained a day, and get out just in time to win; "The unforseen does not exist." In 1879 he pub. The Begum's 500 Millions (Fortune); French physician Dr. Sarrasin inherits big franks from a French soldier of fortune who married a rich Indian widow, and used it to found a model city based on public health; militarist German supremacist scientist Prof. Schultze also inherits a share, using it to found his own city, based on producing secret veapons which will be used to destroy Sarrasin's city; don't ask me how, but they manage to get the U.S. to cede a large section of the Pacific Northwest for their cities. In 1882 he pub. School for Crusoes (Godfrey Morgan: A Californian Mystery), based on Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" (1719); Godfrey Morgan and his teacher Prof. T. Artelett leave San Francisco, Calif. on a round-the-world ocean voyage, and end up as castaways on an uninhabited island in the Pacific, where they later encounter African slave Carefinotu, brought by cannibals. In 1886 he pub. Robur the Conqueror (The Clipper of the Clouds); based on "the striking experiments of Capt. Krebs and Capt. Renard"; followed by "Master of the World" (1904). The Geraldo of the 19th century? On Nov. 14, 1889 good-looking New York World daredevil reporter Nellie Bly (1864-1922), who last year spent 10 days in the Blackwell's Island insane asylum in New York City pretending to be insane to expose them takes Jules Verne up on his novel thesis and sets out on a 24,899-mi. round-the-world trip from Hoboken, N.J., arriving back in New York next Jan. 25 in a record 72 days, 6 hours, 11 min. 14 sec.; she retires from journalism in 1894 after marrying millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman (1822-1904), then returns to reporting after employee embezzlement ruins the co. In 1896 he pub. Facing (For) the Flag; France is threatened by the Fulgurator super-weapon invented by mad scientist (the first in sci-fi?) Thomas Roch; Francois Eugene Turpin (1848-1927), inventor of Melinite sues Verne, claiming that Roch is really him; Verne is successfully defended by future French pres.-PM Raymond Poincare. In 1900 he pub. The Castaways of the Flag (Seconde Patrie) (Second Fatherland) (2 vols.); sequel to "The Swiss Family Robinson" (1812) by Johann David Wyss. In 1904 he pub. Master of the World, a "black novel" filled with the fear of the rise of tyrants incl. villain Robur.
On Apr. 12, 1861 - May 9, 1865 the horrific U.S. Civil War sees the invention of the first modern weapon when N.C.-born agricultural equipment maker Richard Jordan Gatling (1818-1903) patents the 10-barrel hand-cranked hundreds-of-rounds-per-min. Gatling Gun (the first practical machine gun) just in time for use on some Johnny Rebs; it is first used by the Union Army in 1864, but luckily never sees extensive use.
In 1869 Boston, Mass.-born Edward Everett Hale (1833-1909) pub. the short story The Brick Moon, becoming the first depiction of an orbiting space station.
In Jan. 1874 Bath, Maine-born Edward Page Mitchell (1852-1927), "the first giant of U.S. science fiction", who beats H.G. Wells to several key sci-fi ideas, and likes to pub. his sci-fi stories in the New York Sun as factual articles pub. The Tachypomp, about faster-than-light travel. In Dec. 1876 he pub. The Soul Spectroscope. In Mar. 1877 he pub. The Man Without a Body, about teleportation; also Exchanging Their Souls, about mind transfer. In May 1879 he pub. The Ablest Man in the World, about a cyborg; also The Senator's Daughter. In 1881 he pub. The Crystal Man, about an invisible man; also The Clock That Went Backward, a time travel story.
In 1884 English theologian Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926) pub. the novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, in which A Square encounters a Sphere from another world; it is ignored until Einstein's Theory of Relativity comes out, after which it becomes a classic.
In 1886 Edinburgh, Scotland-born Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-94) pub. the novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, about mad scientist Dr. Henry Jekyll, who drinks a strange elixir to turn into psychokiller Edward Hyde, and is investigated by London lawyer Gabriel John Utterson; "Man is not truly one, but truly two... recognize the primitive duality of man"; the novel is immediately turned into a hugely successful stage play, but after the Whitechapel "Jack the Ripper" Murders begin in 1888 the producers shut it down, believing it to be in poor taste.
In 1887 Spanish diplomat-writer Enrique Lucio Eugenio Gaspar y Rimbau (1842-1902) pub. the novel Le Anacronism, about the cast iron Anacronopete; first time travel machine story?
In 1888 Escrennes, Loiret-born adventure novelist Louis Henri Boussenard (1847-1910) pub. the sci-fi novels Les Secrets de Monsieur Synthèse, followed by Dix Mille Ans dans un Bloc de Glace (1890).
In 1888 Bromley, Kent-born Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) ("Father of Science Fiction") pub. The Chronic Argonauts; time travelers. In 1895 he pub. The Stolen Bacillus and Other Stories (short stories); also The Time Machine: An Invention (original title "The Chronic Argonauts") (first novel); a man builds a machine in which he travels backward to the beginning of time and forward to the extinction of the Sun, meeting the Morlocks, descendants of the protetariat, who live underground herding the Eloi, descendants of the aristocrats on the surface for meat; makes him a star, after which he cranks out sci-fi hits for the next decade (until 1906). In 1896 he pub. The Island of Dr. Moreau; genetic experiments to make animals into people; M'Ling the human-dog. In 1897 he pub. The Invisible Man; filmed in 1933. In 1898 he pub. The War of the Worlds; incl. "The Coming of the Martians", and "The Earth Under the Martians". In 1899 he pub. Tales of Space and Time (short stories). In 1901 he pub. The First Men on the Moon; British scientist Dr. Cavor and British businessman Mr. Bedford discover the Selenites; filmed in 1964. In 1905 he pub. The Remarkable Mr. Kipps; a draper's asst. inherits a small fortune; made into the 1940 Carol Reed film "Kipps" and the 1967 George Sidney film "Half a Sixpence". In 1906 he pub. In the Days of the Comet. In 1909 he pub. Ann Veronica; Tono-Bungay; the rise to wealth and fame of a patent medicine man. In 1910 he pub. The History of Mr. Polly; English shopkeeper Alfred Polly faces bankruptcy, and burns down his house and escapes his horrible wife to enjoy a life of freedom along with his uncles Pentstemon and Jim. In 1911 he pub. The New Machiavelli; satirizes Beatrice Webb and Sidney Webb as the Baileys, along with their Fabian Society. In 1914 he pub. The World Set Free; a world fought with "atomic bombs" causes the survivors to set up a OWG; Hungarian Jewish nuclear physicist Leo Szilard (1898-1964) reads it in 1932, then tries in vain to stop Truman from dropping the A-bomb on Japan. In 1916 he pub. Mr. Britling Sees It Through; an avg. Englishman on the home front in WWI. In 1926 he pub. The World of William Clissold; Wells turns preachy, with the title char. lecturing on life in the Middle Ages, the sex problem, the shortcomings of Marxism, and the need to have a One World Govt. (OWG) Repub. In 1927 he pub. Meanwhile. In 1930 he pub. The Autocracy of Mr. Parham. In 1933 he pub. The Shape of Things to Come; how scientists will save the world after the world wars trash it; filmed in 1936.
In 1890 Ignatius Loyola Donnelly (1831-1901) pub. Caesar's Column under alias Edmund Boisgilbert; a worker revolt against a global oligarchy; helps found the dystopian sci-fi novel genre.
In 1891 F. Antsey (Thomas Antsey Guthrie) pub. Tourmalin's Time Cheques, a time travel story.
In 1898 Florida, Mo.-born Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910) (author of "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn") pub. the story From the 'London Times' of 1904, which describes the Telelectroscope, a "limitless-distance" telephone; "Day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realized that by grace of this marvellous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars"; a prediction of the Internet?
On Oct. 19, 1899 17-y.-o. Worcester, Mass-born New England teenie Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945), fresh from reading H.G. Wells' 1895 novel "The War of the Worlds" climbs a cherry tree and gets his big inspiration to "make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars", and devotes his life to making rockets, calling Oct. 19 his "anniversary day" - Millennium Fever works in reverse on a sci-fi fan? Right ideas, wrong world war? In 1914 he patents the Multi-Stage Rocket, and a rocket fueled with gasoline and liquid nitrous oxide. On Nov. 9, 1918 he demonstrates the first Bazooka at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Md. two days before the signing of the Armistice. On Mar. 16, 1926 (Tues.) after 25 years of work since his big inspiration of Aug. 19, 1899, he makes the first successful test of the liquid fuel rocket named Nell at Aunt Effie's farm in Auburn, Mass., with it landing in a cabbage field after rising 41 ft. in 2.5 sec.; his first tests were in Sept. 1921; after another launch in July 1929 gets nat. publicity, Charles Lindbergh takes up his cause, attempting to get investors interested, only to run up against the Oct. 1929 Stock Market Crash, but luckily Daniel Guggenheim invests $100K and he's up and away, moving to Roswell, N.M. in 1930, after which Wernher von Braun of Germany copies his plans and begins building his A-1 and A-2 prototype rockets in the early 1930s; the Mass. launch site later becomes part of a golf course fairway - he moves to Roswell to get technical advice from ETs?
In 1901 West Indies-born sci-fi novelist Matthew Phipps Shiel (1865-1947) pub. The Purple Cloud.
In 1902 A Trip to the Moon, a state-of-the-art science fiction film dir. by Marie Georges Jean Melies (Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès) (1861-1938) features a rocket hitting the Man in the Moon square in the eye - that's not a rocket, this is a rocket?
In 1909 German writer Kurd Lasswitz (AKA Velatus) (1848-1910) ("Father of German Science Fiction") pub. Star Dew: The Plants of Neptune's Moon, about intelligent flowers. After he dies, a crater on Mars and an asteroid, plus a sci-fi writing prize (1981) are named in his honor.
On Feb. 18, 1910 5-min.-long A Trip to Mars by Edison studios debuts, becoming the first look at a moving Martian; watch movie.
In 1910 J. Searle Dawley's Frankenstein, by Edison Studios debuts, the first film version of the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, starring Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Mary Fuller as his fiancee, and Charles Ogle as the monster; watch film.
In 1911 Luxembourg-born Hugo Gernsback (Gernsbacher) (1884-1967) pub. Ralph 124C41+ in Modern Electrics mag., coining the term "science fiction" (sci-fi), then founding Amazing Stories in Apr. 1926, becoming the "Father of Magazine Science Fiction".
In 1912 Chicago, Ill.-born Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) pub. Tarzan of the Apes, about a boy adopted by African gorillas Kala and Kerchak; "He could spring twenty feet across space at the dizzy heights of the forest top, and grasp with unerring precision, and without apparent jar, a limb waving wildly in the path of an approaching tornado. He could drop twenty feet at a stretch from limb to limb in rapid descent to the ground, or he could gain the utmost pinnacle of the loftiest tropical giant with the ease and swiftness of a squirrel. Though but 10 years old, he was fully as strong as the avg. man of thirty... And day by day his strength was increasing." In 1917 he pub. The Son of Tarzan; after he mates with Jane. In 1918 he pub. The Gods of Mars. In 1922 he pub. The Chessmen of Mars; features the chess variant called Jetan. In 1934 he pub. Pirates of Venus. In 1938 he pub. Tarzan and the Forbidden City. In 1939 he pub. Tarzan the Magnificent. 1944 he pub. The Land of Terror. In 1948 he pub. Llana of Gathol. On Mar. 19, 1950 he dies in Tarzana, Calif.; his ashes are buried on Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana outside his office.
In 1912 Edinburgh, Scotland-born Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan (Gael. "high") Doyle (1859-1930) (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) pub. The Lost World, about an expediton to the Monte Roraima (Tepuyes) Plateau in Venezuela and Guyana by Prof. Challenger, Lord John Roxton, and journalist Ed Malone, which finds living dinos, early human hominids, and vicious ape-like creatures - this jararaca's on you?
On Aug. 4, 1914 - Nov. 11, 1918 the horrific World War I causes 15M deaths and 39M military casualties, and destroys the Old Order of white formerly Christian Europe. The U.S. played the Savior role, and lost a piddling number of troops compared to everybody else, and even after the horrific 1918 Spanish Influenza (Flu) Pandemic, you might call it lucky that it began to become the New Kid on the Block.
In 1915 Concord, Mass.-born Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955) and Boston, Mass.-born lawyer Arthur Cheyney Train (1875-1945) pub. the sci-fi novel The Man Who Rocked the Earth. In 1919 Train pub. Tutt and Mr. Tutt; atty. Ephraim Tutt; first in a series.
On Dec. 24, 1916 Stuart Paton's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea debuts, based on the 1870 Jules Verne novel and the 1874 novel "The Mysterious Island"; features the first underwater photography by George M. Williamson and J. Ernest Williamson.
On Feb. 22, 1918 Holger-Madsen's Himmelskibet debuts, a Danish film about a trip to Mars, becoming the first space opera.
On Sept. 29, 1918 English composer Gustav Theodore Holst (1874-1934) debuts The Planets, Op. 32 at Queen's Hall, London; composed in 1914-16; debut conducted by Adrian Boult before 250 lucky planet-pluckers; consists of seven movements, about 7 planets, conveying ideas and emotions associated with each planet's influence on the psyche, not its astrological influence, later becoming a favorite with sci-fi flicks; the hasty debut only plays five movements, and the first complete public perf. is on Oct. 10 in Birmingham; incl. Mercury the Winged Messenger, Venus the Bringer of Peace, Mars the Bringer of War, Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity, Saturn the Bringer of Old Age, Uranus the Magician, Neptune the Mystic.
On Sept. 30, 1920 Hans Werckmeister's film Algol: Tragedy of Power debuts, about an alien from the planet Algol with a machine to rule the world, starring Emil Jannings and John Gottowt.
On Jan. 25, 1921 Prague-born Karel Capek (1890-1938) (pr. CHAP-ek) debuts his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in Prague, which introduces the word "robot", from Russian "robotatch", meaning to work, coined by his brother Josef Capek (1887-1945) - somehow robots and Commies get fouled up conceptually in time? R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Jan.) (Prague);
In 1921 Am. physicist Thomas Townsend Brown (1905-85) discovers the Biefeld-Brown Effect while experimenting with a Coolidge X-ray tube, finding that a tube with assymetrical electrodes exerts a force when connected to a high-voltage source, later claiming that it might be used by ETs to create anti-gravity machines.
In 1921 Lebedyan, Russia-born novelist Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (1884-1937) pub. We, the diary of D-503 of the no-privacy glass-city One State and his babe I-330, who hooks him up with the resistance group Mephi; forerunner of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984".
In 1923 Romanian-born German physicist Hermann Julius Oberth (1894-1989) coins the term "space station" in his dissertation "By Rocket into Planetary Space", which is rejected, causing him to utter the soundbyte "Our educational system is like an automobile which has strong rear lights, brightly illuminating the past, but looking forward, things are barely discernible." In 1923 he pub. By Rocket into Planetary Space, which is expanded in 1929 into Ways to Spaceflight; modern astronautics is born?
In Jan. 1927 Chicago, Ill.-born physician Miles John Breuer (1889-1945) pub. The Man with the Strange Head in Amazing Stories. In 1928 after answering an ad for a sample copy, Bisbee, Ariz.-born John "Jack" Williamson (1908-2006) pub. his first story The Metal Man in the Dec. 1928 issue of Amazing Stories. In 1930 he pub. his first novel The Girl from Mars with his mentor Breuer. In the late 1930s he sends a postcard to Isaac Asimov to congratulate him on his first pub. story, with the soundbyte "Welcome to the ranks." In 1942 he coins the term "terraforming" in a story pub. in Astounding Science Fiction. In 1947 he pub. The Legion of Space, #1 in the Legion of Space series (1947-83), about the elephant-sized 4-eyed multi-tentacled flying Medusae. In 1947 he pub. With Folded Hands, #1 in the Humanoids series (1947-80), about the small black Humanoids, created by a scientist on planet Wing IV, who take over the galaxy with kindness. In 1949 he pub. Seetee Shock, #1 in the Seetee series (1949-71), about space miners and their attempts to harvest asteroids composed of contraterrene matter (antimatter). In 1954 he and Frederik Pohl pub. Undersea Quest #1 in the Undersea Trilogy (1954, 1956, 1958), about cadet Jim Eden of the Sub-Sea Academy in the domed underwater city of Marinia. In 1964 he and Frederik Pohl pub. The Reefs of Space, #1 in the Starchild Trilogy (1965, 1965, 1969), about scientist Steve Ryeland and his companion Oporto in a future Earth run by the Plan of Man Computer. In 1975 he and Frederik Pohl pub. Farthest Star, followed by Wall Around a Star (1983), AKA the Saga of Cuckoo, about the planet Cuckoo, which is heading toward our galaxy. In 1988 after the death of Robert A. Heinlein he succeeds to his title as Dean of Science Fiction.
In 1927 Fritz Lang's Metropolis debuts, attempting to show the technology-driven future; most expensive silent film to date (7M marks); written by Fritz Lang (1890-1976) and his actress wife Thea von Harbou (1888-1954), who ends up joining the Nazi Party in 1932 before/after he is accused of being Jewish, and splits with him, ending up on the losing side in WWII.
In Aug. 1928 spaceman hero Buck Rogers appears for the first time in the story Armageddon 2419 A.D., by Philly-born Philip Francis Nowlan (1888-1940) in Amazing Stories mag.; Buck falls asleep in 1929 and awakens in the 25th cent.; in 1933 the first Buck Rogers Toys are introduced, launching modern char.-based licensed merchandising, incl. the Buck Rogers line of rocket pistols, manufactured by Daisy; in 1939 the 12-part Buck Rogers serial is released by Universal Pictures, starring Charles Linden "Larry" "Buster" Crabbe II (1908-83). On Jan. 7, 1929 Tarzan first appears in an English comic strip by Harold Foster (1892-1982); the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century comic strip by Philip Francis Nowlan (1888-1940) and Lt. Dick Calkins (1895-1962) debuts the same day.
On Oct. 15, 1929 Fritz Lang's silent Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond), based on the 1928 novel by Thea von Harbou shows astronauts using a dowsing rod to search for water on the Moon; features the first use of the Rocket Countdown Sequence ("10-5-4-3-2-1-Now!"), and a neat Moon landing - the grandfather of Star Trek?
On Nov. 23, 1930 David Butler's Just Imagine debuts, starring El Brendel as Single O, Maureen O'Sullivan as LN-18, John Garrick as J-21, and Marjorie White as D-6 in 1980 New York City, which is filled with 250-story bldgs. connected by suspension bridges and elevated roads, and personal airplanes with hover mode.
In 1930 Seacombe (near Liverpool), Wallasey-born William Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) pub. Last and First Men, a future history of 18 successive species of humanity, incl. descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming; launches his sci-fi writing career. In 1932 he pub. Last Men in London, an autobio. novel about WWI vet Paul, who becomes a schoolteacher and discovers a "submerged superman" in his class named Humpty. In 1935 he pub. Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest; John Wainwright's superhuman abilities get him in trouble; coins the term "Homo superior". In 1937 he pub. Star Maker; outline history of the Universe; first description of Dyson Spheres, later giving Freeman Dyson the idea. In 1939 he pub. Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest. In 1942 he pub. Darkness and the Light. In 1944 he pub. Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord; also Old Man in New World. In 1946 he pub. Death into Life. In 1947 he pub. The Flames: A Fantasy. In 1950 he pub. A Man Divided.
In 1930 Beverly, Mass.-born Philip Gordon Wylie (1902-71) (AKA Leatrice Homesley) pub. Gladiator; a scientist invents an "alkaline free-radical" serum to give the proportionate strength and leaping ability of an ant to humans, and uses it on his son Hugo Danner; inspires the Superman comic book char.? In 1932 he pub. The Savage Gentleman; inspires the comic book char. Doc Savage. In 1933 he and Chicago, Ill.-born Edwin Balmer (1883-1959) pub. When Worlds Collide; another planet is headed toward Earth, causing it to be evacuated; filmed in 1951. In 1934 they pub. After Worlds Collide. In 1945 Wylie pub. The Paradise Center; the Nazis get even in 1965 and rule the world with atomic bombs; gets him put under house arrest by the U.S. govt. In 1951 Wylie pub. The Disappearance; the genders end up in parallel worlds.
On Nov. 21, 1931 James Whale's Frankenstein, based on the 1818 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly novel debuts, dir. by gay sockhusker James Whale (1889-1957) (sperm whale?), making a monster star of English actor Boris Karloff (1887-1969) (makeup by Jack Pierce); English actor Colin Clive (1900-37) (descendant of Baron Robert Clive, founder of the British Indian Empire) plays Dr. Henry Frankenstein (in the novel it was Dr. Victor Frankenstein); Am. actor Dwight Frye (1899-1943) ("the Man with the Thousand-Watt Stare") plays hunchbacked lab asst. Fritz; "The monster was the best friend I ever had" (Karloff); "It's alive! It's alive!" (Clive); "When I was nine I played the demon king in Cinderella and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster" (Karloff); "His eyes mirrored the suffering we needed" (producer Carl Laemmle Jr.); "His face fascinated me. I made drawings of his head, adding sharp bony ridges where I imagined the skull might have joined" (James Whale); Frankenstein sideshows become the rage in the U.K. and U.S. On Apr. 22, 1935 James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein, a sequel to the 1931 film debuts, starring Boris Karloff as the monster, and Elsa Lanchester as his mate as well as Mary Shelly; Colin Clive plays Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger plays Dr. Septimus Pretorius; the music score is by Polish-born Am. composer Franz Waxman (1906-67).
On Dec. 31, 1931 Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde debuts, based on the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson novella, starring Fredric March.
In 1932 Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls debuts, based on the H.G. Wells 1896 novel "The Island of Dr. Moreau" stars Charles Laughton as a mad scientist trying to make a shipwrecked survivor mate with Lota the Panther Woman (Kathleen Burke, who is chosen from 60K candidates in a nationwide search) to produce the first manimal; so disturbing it is initially banned in parts of the U.S.
On Mar. 2, 1933 Merian C. Cooper's and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World debuts, starring a 50-ft. monster ape (brought to life by Willis O'Brien) brought from Skull Island by Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) and John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) to New York City on Capt. Englehorn's ship Venture; Kong kidnaps Ann Darrow (queen of screams Fay Wray), and is shot down from the top of the Empire State Bldg. by four biplanes; Denham speaks the epitaph "It wasn't the airplanes, it was beauty killed the beast"; Edgar Wallace goes to Hollywood to work on the film, but dies before it is completed; freelance actor Driscoll goes on to a long career as a supporting actor, losing the role of the Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach" (1939) to John Wayne, which launches Wayne's superstar career, after which they become friends; brings in $1.85M on a $672K budget.
On Nov. 13, 1933 James Whale's The Invisible Man, based on the 1897 H.G. Wells novel debuts, written by Robert Cedric Sherriff, starring Claude Rains, who is turned into a raving megalomaniac by invisibility drugs; Gloria Stuart plays Flora Cranley; "We'll start with a few murders. Big men. Little men. Just to show we make no distinction."
In 1933 Superman first appears in the science fiction story "The Reign of the Super-Man" by writer Jerome "Jerry" Siegel (1914-96) and artist Joseph "Joe" Shuster (1914-92), h.s. students in Cleveland, Ohio, who sell the character to Detective Comics (DC Comics) in 1938; the original Superman is a bald telepathic villain bent on dominating the world; Siegel invents the real one in 1934.
In 1934 the Little Orphan Annie radio program markets the first secret decoder ring for fans, causing a craze spreading to Captain Midnight et al.
On Feb. 20, 1936 William Cameron Menzies' B&W Things to Come (London Film Productions) (United Artists) debuts, produced by Alexander Korda and written by H.G. Wells based on his 1933 novel "The Shape of Things to Come", starring Raymond Massey and Margaretta Scott as John and Rowena Cabal in an optimistic prediction of a future world being rebuilt in 1970-2036 after a long war in 1940; music by English composer Sir Arthur Bliss; a flop, causing studios to shun expensive futuristic flicks until the 1950s; "If we're no more than animals, we must snatch at our little scraps of happiness and live and suffer and pass, mattering no more than all the other animals do or have done. It is that, or this? All the universe, or nothingness Which shall it be?"
On Apr. 6, 1936 Frederick Stephani's Flash Gordon, a serial film based on the Alex Raymond comic debuts, starring Olympic gold medal swimming athlete Clarence Linden "Buster" Crabbe II (1908-83) as Flash Gordon, Jean Rogers (Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren) (1916-91) as his babe Dale Arden, Frank Connolly Shannon (1874-1959) as Dr. Alexis Zarkov, and Charles B. Middleton (1874-1949) as bad guy Emperor Ming the Merciless; followed by "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars" (1938) and "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" (1940).
In 1936 the British sci-fi mag. New Worlds (originally "Novae Terrae") is founded (until 1970), becoming #1 in the U.K.
In 1937 Newark, N.J.-born MIT-educated John Wood Campbell Jr. (1910-71) becomes ed. of Astounding Stories, changing the title next Mar. to Astounding Science-Fiction, launching the Golden Age of Sci-Fi in 1938 (ends 1946), and dominating the field through the 1940s.
On July 30, 1937 Tilden-Neb.-born sci-fi writer Lafayette Ronald "L. Ron" Hubbard (1911-86) pub. his first hardback book Buckskin Brigades, based on his alleged childhood experience with Blackfoot medicine man Old Tom, who he claims made him a blood brother of the tribe. In 1940 he pub. Final Blackout. In Jan.-Mar. 1946 Los Angeles, Calif.-born John "Jack" (Marvel) Whiteside Parsons (1914-52), a cofounder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and a Thelema disciple unsuccessfully attempts to father a Moonchild with Belle Plaine, Iowa-born redhead Marjorie Cameron (1922-95) while performing the Babalon Working rituals along with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in an attempt to manifest the archetypal divine femine called Babalon; after being investigated by the FBI and losing his defense contracts, Parsons is killed in a home lab accident, causing allegations of a govt. hit. On Nov. 7, 1948 Hubbard utters the soundbyte "You don't get rich writing science fiction - if you want to get rich, you start a religion" at the Eastern Science Fiction Assoc. No doubt about it, the Americans have the kookiest cults? On May 9, 1950 Tilden, Neb.-born science fiction writer Lafayette Ronald "L. Ron" Hubbard (1911-86) AKA LHR pub. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (May 9); from Greek "dia" + "nous" = through + mind; the founding holy book of the Church of Scientology (founded in Camden, N.J. in Dec. 1953), it talks about "engrams", which are memories stored during periods of unconsciousness (post-natal or pre-natal), not accessible afterward by the consciousness, but which can bite back by giving primal commands that "aberrate" (depart from rational thought or behavior) and are "the very stuff of which insanity is made"; by the Dianetic (Greek for through-soul) process of "auditing" one individual can "clear" another of his engrams, raising his IQ and making him rational and responsible; it stays on the New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks, and sparks "the fastest growing movement in the U.S." (Los Angeles Daily News); Hubbard forms the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, N.J., founds six Dianetics centers nationwide, and in Aug. speaks to 6K at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A., going on the radio in Dec. on 126 stations; in 1951 he advises silence in the delivery room (since engrams can be accidentally created) and the laying of the newborn on the mother's abdomen before cutting the chord; cult members are eventually taught the weird doctrine of Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy 75M years ago, who brought billions of his people to Teegeeack (Earth), then killed them using H-bombs, their essences haunting modern people (thetans) as body thetans (BT), which is trapped in MEST (matter, energy, space, and time) until the Scientologist rids the thetan of engrams and attains a state of Clear, then goes on to work up to an Operating Thetan (OT) who can experience the self outside the body via exteriorization - just wait till they quote their prices? In 1951 he pub. Fear; also Typewriter in the Sky. In 1953 he pub. Ole Doc Methuselah. In 1960 he pub. Have You Lived Before This Life? On Apr. 28, 1973 the Church of Scientology begins the secret Snow White Program to find and remove "false" government files about itself and its founder L. Ron Hubbard, becoming known for excesses, stinking itself up and raising questions about its tax-exempt status as a religion. On July 7, 1977 the FBI raids the world HQ of the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles, Calif., and discovers evidence that they were conspiring to infiltrate, burglarize, and bug offices of the IRS and U.S. Dept. of Justice, along with a 19-page plan to sabotage IRS investigations that they called Operation Snow White, becoming the largest infiltration of the U.S. govt. in history, with up to 5K secret agents; 11 Scientologists incl. Mary Sue Hubbard (1931-2002), 3rd wife (1952-86) of founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911-86) are later convicted. In 1982 Hubbard pub. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000; (1.2M words); longest pub. English novel so far?; vol. 1 of the 10-vol. "decalogy" Mission Earth (1982-7); the humans led by Jonnie Goodboy Tyler vs. the hairy 9-ft.-tall 1K-lb. Psychlos in the Rocky Mts. near Denver, Colo. in 3000 C.E.; the first half is quite good, but the second half (ghostwritten by Hubbard's Scientology org.?) turns into a story about a dishonest multilevel scheme to take over the known universe, becoming a self-expose of the Scientology org.?; filmed in 2000.
Well well well? On Oct. 30, 1938 (Sun.) (Halloween night) George Orson Welles (1915-85) panics naive isolationist Americans with his CBS-Radio rendition of H.G. Wells' 1898 novel War of the Worlds on Mercury Theatre on the Air (H.G., Mercury - get it?), starting with Mt. Jennings Observatory (Chicago) Prof. Farrell reporting several explosions on Mars, then Prof. Morse of Macmillan U. reporting more, then live descriptions of Martians invading New Joisey and kicking the U.S. army's butt like the Nazis would if they had spaceships; Orson Welles plays Princeton U. prof. Richard Pierson; on Oct. 31 (after talking to his lawyers?) Welles expresses "deep regret" but also bewilderment that anyone had thought it was real; the Edgar Bergen show is airing at the same time, and when its music segment comes on many listeners switch to CBS, catching it in the middle and becoming more freaked - if they were busy studying instead of listening to the radio, they wouldn't be so dumb?
In 1938 Belfast-born Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis (1898-1963) (who became an atheist at age 15, then was converted at age 31 by his Roman Catholic Oxford friend J.R.R. Tolkien and joined the Inklings group of Christian teachers and writers at Ox Ox Oxford) pub. Out of the Silent Planet; #1 of the sci-fi Cosmic (Space) (Ransom) Trilogy, written in response to his nemesis J.B.S. Haldane (ends 1945); hero is philologist Elwin Ransom; interplanetary theological attack on scientism, "the belief that the supreme moral end is the perpetuation of our own species, and that this is to be pursued even if, in the process... our species has to be stripped of all those things for which we value it - of pity, of happiness, and of freedom." In 1943 he pub. the sequel Perelandra (Voyage to Venus). In 1942 he pub. The Screwtape Letters; a devil explains how he ensares souls. In 1945 he pub. That Hideous Strength; #3 in Space Trilogy. In 1950 he pub. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; set in 1940; first of seven books about Narnia, where it's "always winter and never Christmas": "Prince Caspian" (1951), "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (1952), "The Silver Chair" (1953), "The Horse and His Boy" (1954), "The Magician's Nephew" (1955), "The Last Battle" (1956); Christlike lion-messiah Aslan, the White Witch, the four Pevensie siblings Susan, Lucy, Peter, Edmund (the betrayer), and a crypto-Christian battle between good and evil; sells 95M copies in the next 55 years; "The whole Narnian story is about Christ", writes Lewis in a 1961 letter to a child; Lewis recommends that they be read in the following order: 1955, 1950, 1954, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956.
In 1938 the Captain Midnight radio show debuts on the Mutual Radio Network (until Dec. 1949), sponsored by the Skelly Oil Co., followed in 1940 by Ovaltine, about WWI USAF pilot Capt. Jim "Red" Albright, leader of the Secret Squadron, who got his nickname by returning from a dangerous mission at the stroke of midnight, fighting villains intent on sabotage and espionage of intel on flying wings, radar, jets etc., incl. Ivan Shark and his daughter Fury Shark and aides Gardo and Fang, Baron von Karp, Adm. Himakito, and von Schrecker with fellow heroes Chuck Ramsay, Ichabod "Ikky" Mudd, Agent Kelly, SS-11, and Maj. Barry Steele, and heroine Joyce Ryan; ; fans enjoy Code-O-Graphs, decoder rings, etc.; in Sept. 1942 it moves to NBC; becomes a CBS-TV show in 1954-6.
On Sept. 1, 1939 - Sept. 2, 1945 the horrific $3.5T World War II results in 24M military and 49M civilian deaths, and features the low point of the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah) by the German Nazis - I guess it was the Jews' fault for not ransoming themselves to go to Israel before they could round them up for the camps? The whole experience turns Jews from lovers into fighters, ramping up the Zionist movement with full world sympathy and support by new world superpower U.S., which has its own guilt trip because on Nov. 24, 1942 Budapest-born Am. Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise (1874-1949) announces in a press conference in Washington, D.C. that he was authorized by the U.S. State Dept. to confirm that the Nazis had murdered 2M Jews as part of a plan to exterminate all Jews in Europe; too bad, the nat. newspapers don't consider it front page news, and the U.S. govt. does nada. After the war ends and Americans toud the concentration camps in horror, Polish-born Jewish scholar Raphael Lemkin (1900-59), who single-handedly led an unsuccessful campaign to get the League of Nations to give internat. protections against genocide starting in 1933 finally gets what he wants after his own people got it, namely the Dec. 9, 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Gen. Assembly Resolution 260), which doesn't come in force until Jan. 12, 1951, and which the U.S. doesn't ratify until 1988. By the end of WWII the U.S. is the World's Policeman, with half the world's wealth, and a Baby Boom accompanied by an economic boom created a huge mass-market for novels and everything else.
The last year that the U.S. govt. doesn't copy the Gestapo? In winter 1939 acting on tips, the U.S. Secret Service raids the home of a group calling themselves the Futurians with guns drawn, hoping to catch a counterfeiting ring; finding that it is just the home of a group of teenie fledgling science fiction authors, incl. Isaac Asimov (1920-92), and Frederik Pohl (1919-), who pub. their works on a private printing press, they quietly tuck their tails in and leave without seizing anything or arresting anybody? - wish they had iPhones to send pictures?
In 1939 the Nazis invent the Haunebu Anti-Gravity Engine for their flying saucers?
In 1939 Sewickley, Penn.-born historian-novelist George Rippey Stewart Jr. (1895-1980) pub. East of the Giants. In 1941 he pub. Storm, about a Pacific storm named Maria, causing the U.S. Nat. Weather Service to begin naming tropical storms after people, and inspiring Lerner and Loewe's song "They Call the Wind Maria" from "Paint Your Wagon" (1951). In 1948 Fire, about a forest fire in the Sierra Nevada Mts. of Calif. In 1949 he pub. Earth Abides, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel about Isherwood "Ish" Williams, Emma, and the community they found in Berkeley, Calif. after civilization is destroyed by a plague; wins the first Internat. Fantasy Award in 1951.
On Apr. 5, 1940 Hal Roach's One Million B.C. debuts, starring immature hunk Victor Mature as Tumak, who is exiled from the Rock tribe and joins up with the Shell tribe; Carole Landis plays Loana, making her a star; remade in 1966 starring Raquel Welch and who-cares.
On Apr. 12, 1940 Ernest B. Schoedsack's Dr. Cyclops debuts, becoming the first U.S. sci-film made in Technicolor, starring Albert Dekker as nearsighted mad scientist Dr. Alexander Thorkel, who uses radiation from a hidden Peruvian mine to shrink animals, and turns it on scientists Thomas Coley, Victor Kilian, Janice Logan, and Charles Halton, shrinking them to 1 ft., and siccing his cat Satanus on them.
On Aug. 12, 1941 Victor Fleming's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde debuts, a remake of the 1931 film based on the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson novella, starring Spencer Tracy babing it up with Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner; music by Franz Waxman.
On May 18, 1942 Sam Newfield's The Mad Monster debuts, starring George Zucco as mad scientist Lorenzo Cameron, who is rejected by his peers and gets even by transforming his gardener Petro (Glenn Strange) into a killer wolfman.
In 1942 Russian-born Am. writer Isaac Asimov (1920-92) (Russ. "ozimiye" = winter grain) pub. the short story Runaround, which introduces Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. In 1950 he pub. his first novel Pebble in the Sky, #1 in the Galactic Empire series (1950-2); also I, Robot, actually, a screenplay that perennially fails to get filmed (until ?) about situations where the Three Laws of Robotics get conflicted. In 1951 he pub. The Stars, Like Dust; the rebels vs. the Tyranni for control of the Galaxy; also Foundation; #1 of 7 in The Foundation Series; Hari "the Raven" Seldon, math prof. at Streeling U. in Trantor, father of psychohistory predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire. In 1954 he pub. The Caves of Steel; first in the Robot series (1954-85). In 1957 he pub. The Naked Sun. In 1958 Isaac Asimov (1920-92), who received a Ph.D. in Chem. in 1948 for enzyme research ("The Kinetics of the Reaction Inactivation of Tyrosinase During Its Catalysis of the Aerobic Oxidation of Catechol"), but proved no good at research is fired from his job at a small medical school for wanting to teach instead, leaving him to pursue his real love of cranking out writing? In 1964 he pub. The Rest of the Robots (short stories). In 1966 he pub. Fantastic Voyage; a novelization of the film by Harry Kleiner. In 1972 he pub. The Gods Themselves; one of his few novels with sex in it, and alien sex to boot. In 1976 he pub. The Bicentennial Man; filmed in 1999. In 1982 he pub. Foundation's Edge; Foundation Series #4; after almost 262 books and 44 years, his first NYT bestseller; Harla Branno vs. Golan Trevize. On Apr. 6, 1992 he dies in New York City after authoring 400+ books, becoming the only author to have a book in every major Dewey Decimal category. In 1993 Forward the Foundation is pub posth., his last book; Hari Seldon grows old and dies.
In fall 1943 the Philadelphia Experiment allegedly causes U.S. Navy destroyer USS Eldridge to teleport from Philadelphia, Penn. to Norfolk, Va. - and now we have Tiger Woods?
In 1944 Los Angeles, Calif.-born Leigh Douglass Brackett (1915-78) pub. her first novel No Good from a Corpse, a Raymond Chandler clone, followed by her first sci-fi novel Shadow Over Mars, which promotes an elaborate fantasy version of Mars. In 1949 after a stint in Hollywood where she co-wrote "The Big Sleep", she pub. Sea-Kings of Mars (The Sword of Rhiannon), along with Queen of the Martian Catacombs, which introduced Earth orphan Eric John Stark, who was raised on Mercury. In 1952 she pub. The Starmen (of Llyrdis) (The Galactic Breed), followed by The Big Jump (1955). In 1955 she pub. The Long Tomorrow, about a religion-run technophobic society that grows up after a nuclear war. In 1963 she pub. Alpha Centauri or Die!, followed by The Secret of Sinharat (1964), and People of the Talisman (1964). In 1974 after returning to Hollywood to co-write "Rio Bravo", "Hatari!", "El Dorado", and "Rio Lobo", she pub. The Ginger Star, along with The Hounds of Skaith, followed by The Reavers of Skaith (1976). She then writes a screenplay for "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), which may or may not have been used along with another by Lawrence Kasdan, although George Lucas gives them both credit.
In 1944 Staten Island, N.Y.-born Theodore Sturgeon (Edward Hamilton Waldo) (1918-85) (distant relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson) pub. his first novel Killdozer!, about spirits from an ancient temple possessing bulldozer Daisy Etta (D7 in Spanish), which inspires a 1974 TV movie and a Marvel comic book. In 1950 he pub. The Dreaming Jewels (The Synthetic Man), about 8-y.-o. Horton "Horty" Bluett, who runs away to the circus disguised as a girl, and takes on evil carnival owner Pierre Monetre, who is trying to unlock the power of alien jewels. In 1951 he pub. Sturgeon's Law: "90% of science fiction is crud, but then, 90% of everything is crud." In 1953 he pub. More Than Human, based on the novella "Baby is Three", about six extraordinary people who "blesh" in order to act as a single organism. In Aug. 1958 he pub. The Cosmic Rape (To Marry Medusa), about alcoholic Dan Gurlick, who ingests a spore from the hive mind Medusa, and is used to absorb Earth. In 1960 he pub. Venus Plus X, about Charlie Johns of 61 N. 34th St., who is taken to the future world of Ledmon, which has dispensed with gender. In 1961 he pub. Some of Your Blood, about Dr. Philip Outerbridge and his patient George Smith, who Outerbridge believes is a vampire. In 1963 he pub. The Player on the Other Side, an Ellery Queen novel. In 1966 he begins writing screenplays for the TV series "Star Trek", incl. "Shore Leave" (1966), and "Amok Time" (1967), in which he invents the Vulcan Pon Farr mating ritual, the Vulcan benediction "Live long and prosper", and the Vulcan hand symbol; he also creates the Prime Directive. On Apr. 3, 1986 Godbody is pub. posth., about a super sexual athlete.
In 1946 Chicago, Ill.born Pat Frank (Harry Hart Frank Jr.) (1908-64) pub. his first novel Mr. Adam (Was Wanted by Every Woman in the World), about a nuclear accident which renders all men sterile except one lucky guy. In 1948 he pub. An Affair of State, about Jeff Baker, who works his way up in the State Dept. and ends up in Hungary, giving him a chance to do something about his hatred of cold war. In 1951 he pub. Hold Back the Night, about the Korean War; filmed in 1956. In 1956 he pub. Forbidden Area, about Soviet sleeper agents in the U.S. In 1959 he pub. the bestseller Alas, Babylon, about the anarchic post-nuclear war world of lucky Ft. Repose, Fla. In 1962 he pub. How to Survive the H-Bomb and Why.
In 1946 Millville, Wisc.-born Minneapolis Star and Tribune ed. Clifford Donald Simak (1904-88) (known for being anti-urban and pro-agrarian) pub. his first novel The Creator. In 1950 he pub. Cosmic Engineers, about metal men fighting the Hellhounds to keep two universes from colliding. In 1951 he pub. Time and Again (First He Died) (Time Quarry), about spaceman Ashter Sutton returning to Earth from 61 Cygni after visiting a planet with living "souls", causing a religious war. In 1951 he pub. City, about a future Earth where only dogs and robots are left. In 1953 he pub. Ring Around the Sun, where psychic powers enable men to step into parallel quantum Earths in a you know what. In 1961 he pub. Time is the Simplest Thing (The Fisherman), about paranormal Shepherd Blaine, who escapes a mob set on him by the evil Fishhook monopoly by traveling back in time, only to find that time only flows forward while splitting into parallel Universes, and the past is a lifeless insubstantial place. In 1961 he pub. The Trouble with Tycho, about a lunar crater where spacecraft disappear. In 1963 he pub. Way Station (Here Gather the Stars, about a U.S. Civil War vet who takes care of a secret Way Station for ETs. In 1965 he pub. All Flesh is Grass, about Millville being trapped in a bubble by an alien hive race of purple flowers. In 1968 he pub. The Goblin Reservation, about a traveler who teleports home and learns that he was murdered a week earlier. In 1972 he pub. A Choice of Gods, where 99.99% of the human race disappears, and the rest have lifespans of 5K-6K years. In 1974 he pub. Our Children's Children, about refugees from 500 years in the future being chased by monsters. In 1976 he pub. Shakespeare's Planet; Carter Horton sleeps 2K years and finds himself on a planet inhabited only one living entity, Carnivore. In 1978 he pub. The Fellowship of the Talisman, about a parallel Earth where a young men must get past the Harriers of the Horde to deliver Jesus' teachings to London. In 1978 he pub. Mastodonia (Catface), about a cat-faced alien stranded in Wisc. who helps locals start a tourism co. for big game hunters in prehistoric epochs, and they want to found the country of you know what. In 1980 he pub. The Visitors, about giant black boxes that land on Earth and eat trees. In 1981 he pub. Project Pope, about the planet End of Nothing, where robots work 1K years to build a computerized infallible pope. In 1984 he pub. Highway of (to) Eternity, about Jay Corcoran, whose client vanishes, causing him to find a room-sized box stuck to the outside wall of his hotel suite, and call in his friend Tom Boone, who has the power to "step around a corner", causing them to travel back to 1745 Shropshire England, where they find a family of refugees from 1M years in the future.
On June 24, 1947 Sebeka, Minn.-born aviator Kenneth A. Arnold (1915-84) allegedly sights nine flying saucers over Mt. Rainier in Wash., causing a UFO Craze; the first Flying Saucer Convention is held next fall at the Labor Temple in New York City.
On July 2-4, 1947 the Roswell Incident leads many to believe that the U.S. govt. covered-up an extraterrestrial landing in New Mexico led by CIA dir. #3 (1947-50) Rear Adm. Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter (1897-1982), with U.S. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau (1902-91) supposedly in charge of the secret files, whom his subordinate Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso (1915-98) (born in Jupiter, Fla.) later blows the whistle on in The Day After Roswell (1998), claiming the alien UFO technology from the 1947 Roswell Incident was used to pump up the U.S. defense industry with fiber optics, particle beams, and Star Wars technology; in Apr. 2011 a classified memo dated Mar. 22, 1950 is released by the FBI from Guy Hottel, SAC, Washington, with the soundbyte "An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and fast pilots. According to ... informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controling mechanism of the saucers" - what do you see on my forehead, the word dumbass? In 1995 Walt Disney Co. broadcast a documentary called Alien Encounters from Tomorrowland, about Roswell and UFOs, claiming a govt. coverup; it was never broadcast again.
In 1948 Minehead, Somerset-born Arthur Charles Clarke (1917-2008) pub. his first novel Against the Fall of Night, about the contrasting civilizations of Diaspar and Lys; rewritten in 1956 as "The City and the Stars". In 1950 he pub. his first sci-fi novel Prelude to Space. In 1953 he pub. Childhood's End; the alien Overlords take over the Earth. In 1962 he pub. Profiles of the Future (essays); contains the essay "Hazards of Prophecy", in which he proposes Clarke's Laws of Sci-Fi: 1. When a scientist says that something is possible, he is probably right, but when he says it's impossible, he's probably wrong. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the posible is to venture into the impossible. In 1973 he adds 3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, adding "As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there." In 1963 he pub. Dolphin Island: A Story of the People of the Sea; based on the research of John Cunningham Lilly (1915-2001). In 1972 he pub. Rendezvous with Rama; a mysterious 50-km-long cylindrical starship enters the Solar System in the year 2130, is investigated, and after a 1GT nuke fired from Mercury fails to destroy it, it slingshots around the Sun toward the Large Magellanic Cloud; "And on far-off Earth, Dr. Carlisle Perera had as yet told no one how he had wakened from a restless sleep with the message from his subconscious still echoing in his brain: The Ramans do everything in threes." (ending) In 1973 he pub. Profiles of the Future (essays); rev. of the 1962 ed.; adds his Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; in 1999 he adds his Fourth Law: "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"; the idea that magic and technology are ultimately equal turns both sci-fi and fantasy writers on, confusing the genres, with Larry Niven uttering the soundbyte "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology." In 1975 he pub. Imperial Earth; Duncan Makenzie travels to Earth from his home on Titan to see the U.S. on its 500th birthday in 2276 and also in order to clone himself. In 1979 he pub. The Fountains of Paradise; a scientist attempts to build a space elevator. In Jan. 1982 he pub. 2010: Odyssey Two (Jan.); sequel to "2001" (1968); a joint U.S.-Soviet rescue mission witnesses Jupiter nova into the star Lucifer; dedicated to first spacewalker (1965) Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (1934-); filmed in 1984. In Dec. 1987 he pub. 2061: Odyssey Three; an expedition to Halley's Comet violates the orders not to approach Europa; filmed in ?. In 1997 he pub. 3001: The Final Odyssey; the freeze-dried body of 2001 astronaut Frank Poole is discovered in deep space by human spaceship Goliath, who revive him and take him back to 3001 Earth, where he discovers the BrainCap, dino servants, the space drive, and the four space elevators spaced around the equator, and learns that the Jovian monolith is about to get orders from its maker 450 l.y. away to destroy human civilization, creating a virus to stop it; filmed in ?. filmed in ?. On Dec. 31 NPR interviews sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), asking him if anything happened in the 20th cent. that he could not have anticipated, and he utters the soundbyte "Yes, absolutely. The one thing I never would have expected is that, after centuries of wonder and imagination and aspiration, we would have gone to the Moon... and then stopped."
In 1948 Sheboygan, Wisc.-born Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith (1890-1965) pub. Triplanetary, #1 of the 6-vol. Lensman series, based on short stories in "Astounding Science Fiction" from the 1930s-1940s, about the good Arisians vs. the bad Eddorians (Civilization vs. Boskone). In 1950 he pub. First Lensman; Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman; Second Stage Lensmen; Children of the Lens; about Master Pilot John K. Kinnison fighting millennia-old beings of pure intellect and psionic powers in an inter-galactic war using beams of lambent energy, cones of destruction, hyper-spatial tubes et al.; sci-fi's first space epic?
On June 8, 1949 Fred C. Brannon's King of the Rocket Men debuts, produced by Republic Pictures, starring Tristram "Tris" Coffin (1909-90) as Jeff King, who is outfitted by Dr. Millard (James Craven) with an "atomic-powered rocket flying suit" and bullet-shaped helmet to fight evil genius Dr. Vulcan. On Jan. 9, 1952 Fred C. Brannon's Radar Men from the Moon debuts, produced by Republic Pictures, starring George Dewey Wallace (1917-2005), who uses the same neat rocket-powered flying suit, and takes on Moon dictator Retik in his rocket ship. In 1953 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe debuts, produced by Republic Pictures, starring Judd Clifton Holdren (1915-74); it is broadcast on NBC-TV as a series on July 16-Oct. 8, 1955.
In 1949 Kermanshah, Iran-born Doris May Lessing (1917-) pub. her first novel The Grass is Singing. In 1952 she pub. Martha Quest. In 1960 she pub. In Pursuit of Englishness. In 1969 she pub. The Four-Gated City. In 1979 she pub. Re: Colonied Planet 5, Shikasta: Personal Psychological Historical Documents Relating to Visit by Johor (George Sherban), Emissary (Grade 9) 87th of the Last Period of the Last Days. In 1980 she pub. The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five; also The Sirian Experiments. In 1982 she pub. The Making of the Representative for Planet 8; "This is the story of Planet 8 of the Canopean Empire, a prosperous and contented little planet inhabited by handsome, vibrant, intelligent people, as told to us by one of the planet's fifty Representatives." In 1983 she pub. The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire. In 1988 she pub. The Fifth Child. In 1999 she pub. Mara and Dann.
In 1949 after a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Huyton, Lancashire, England-born Samuel Youd (1922-2012) (not Jewish) pub. his first novel The Winter Swan. In 1951 he begins using the alias John Christopher, and in 1955 he pub. his first sci-fi novel The Year of the Comet, about a world controlled by the managerials Atomics and Telecoms, followed by The Death of Grass (No Blade of Grass (1956), about a virus killing the grass and causing a famine, which is filmed in 1970 by Cornel Wilde. In 1966 he switches to adolescent sci-fi, and pub. The Tripods Trilogy (1967-68), about humanity being enslaved by 3-legged Tripods who drive them back to the Middle Ages, followed by The Lotus Caves (1969), about life under the Bubble on the Moon in 2068, The Guardians (1970), about 2052 England, which is polarized into the Conurbs and the County, and The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy (1971-2), about post-apocalyptic S England, where the Seers run a medieval society in the name of the Spirits, and keep Christians down.
1950 - The dust of the first A-bomb tests is just settling, and already Hollyweird is portraying a U.S.-Space Race based on nuclear propulsion? In July 1950 Kurt Neumann's Rocketship X-M (Expedition Moon) (B&W) debuts; stars Lloyd Bridges, and features theremin music by Ferde Grofe; shot after "Destination Moon", it hits theaters first because of less SFX, becoming the first U.S. sci-fi space adventure feature film. In Aug. 1950 Irving Pichel's Destination Moon debuts, produced by George Pal and partly written by Robert A. Heinlein; portrays U.S. private capitalist industry (Lockheed) going to the Moon with nuclear propulsion, and features a Woody Woodpecker cartoon to teach the basics of space flight, later copied in "Jurassic Park"; too bad, its expensive Technicolor SFX cause it to be released after the B&W "Rocketship X-M", which has an anti-nuclear message; both films launch the Golden Age of Sci-Fi Films.
On Oct. 25, 1950 Fred C. Brannon's B&W Flying Disc Man from Mars debuts, a 12-part 167-min. serial from Republic Pictures starring Walter Reed as pilot Kent Fowler, Lois Collier as Helen Hall, James Craven as former Nazi scientist Dr. Bryant, and Gregory Gaye as Martian invader Mota.
In 1950 Waukegan, Ill.-born Raymond Douglas "Ray" Bradbury (1920-2012) pub. The Martian Chronicles (The Silver Locusts), about the dying Martian civilization. In 1951 he pub. The Illustrated Man, short stories about a tattooed dude; filmed in 1969. In 1953 he pub. Fahrenheit 451; that's Celsius 233; Guy Montag the fireman burns them pesky books people are still hoarding that threaten utopia; "It was a pleasure to burn" (first sentence); filmed in 1966. In 1962 he pub. Something Wicked This Way Comes; 13-y.-o. boys Jim Nightshade and Will Holloway visit a traveling carnival and meet Mr. Dark, who wears a tattoo for each person whose soul he's bought, after which Will's father Charles takes him on to regain his youth.
In 1950 Somerville, Mass.-born astronomer-chemist Hal Clement (Harry Clement Stubbs) (1922-2003) (AKA George Richard) (leader of the hard sci-fi genre) pub. his first novel Needle (From Outer Space), about an alien life form that lives in the human body, followed by (1953), and Mission of Gravity (1954), about the superjovian planet Mesklin, whose fast rotational speed causes variable gravity (3g at the equator to 700g at the poles), populated by centipede-like sentient beings. In 1978 he pub. Through the Eye of a Needle, sequel to "Needle" (1950).
In 1950 Mont.-born Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-88) pub. The Man Who Sold the Moon. In 1951 he pub. The Puppet Masters. In 1957 he pub. Citizen of the Galaxy, about slave boy Thorby of Jubbulpore and his benign owner Baslim the Cripple. In 1957 he also pub. The Door into Summer, about time travel. In 1958 he pub. Have Space Suit - Will Travel; h.s. senior Clifford "Kip" Russell wins a used spacesuit in a jingle-writing contest. In 1959 he pub. Starship Troopers, a a political treatise about how only those doing military service should have the right to become full citizens and vote - how about becoming grand marshal in Disney parks around the world? In 1961 he pub. Stranger in a Strange Land (original title "The Heretic") (June 1), a bestseller (5M copies) about human Valentine Martin Smith, who was raised by Martians and brought back to Earth, transforming society a la the Biblical book of Exodus into organized religion-free counterculture free love anything goes hippiedom; coins the terms "grok"and "grokked", and becomes the Bible of the hippie movement; "Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Martin Smith" (opening). In 1966 he pub. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. In 1980 he pub. The Number of the Beast (last novel); Zebadiah Carter, Dejah Thoris "Deety" Burroughs Carter, Prof. Jacob Burroughs, and Hilda Corners experience true 6-D time travel in the Gay Deceiver, equipped with the Continua Device and Australian Defence Force, ending up in Barsoom; names are taken from Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In 1950 Galaxy Science Fiction is founded in the U.S. by World Editions of Italy, with Montreal-born Horace Leonard Gold (1914-96) as ed., becoming #1 and pub. classic stories incl. "The Fireman" by Ray Bradbury, "The Puppet Masters" by Robert A. Heinlein, and "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester.
In 1950 after flying with Charles Lindbergh, pub. many sci-fi stories in Weird Tales et al., and serving in WWII, USMC Maj. Donald Edward Keyhoe (1897-1988) pub. the bestseller (500K copies) The Flying Saucers Are Real, based on his popular article of the same title in the Jan. issue of True (pub. Dec. 26, 1949), arguing that aliens have been observing the Earth for 200+ years, stepping it up after the 1945 atomic bomb explosions, and that the USAF is trying to cover it up. In 1953 he pub. Flying Saucers from Outer Space, filled with interviews and official reports from the USAF, which make a fan of Carl Jung. In 1955 he pub. The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, followed by Flying Saucers: Top Secret (1960). On Oct. 24, 1956 he, Am. physicist Thomas Townsend Brown (1905-85) et al. found the Nat. Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), with Keyhoe becoming dir. in 1957, calling for Congressional hearings into UFOs, with membership peaking at 15K in the mid-1960s until the 1968 Condon Committee Report causes it to drop to 5K, then disbanding in 1980 after allegations of CIA infiltration. In 1973 he pub. Aliens from Space: The Real Story of Unidentified Flying Objects, proposing Operation Lure to lure ETs to Earth.
In 1950 San Francisco, Calif.-born John Holbrook "Jack" Vance (1916-2013) pub. his first fantasy novel The Dying Earth, first in the Dying Earth series. In 1953 he pub. his first sci-fi novel The Five Gold Bands (The Space Pirate) (The Rapparee). In 1960 he pub. his first mystery novel The Man in the Cage. In 1963 he pub. The Dragon Masters. In 1964 he pub. The Star King, first in the Demon Princes series, featuring shadowy philosopher Baron Bodissey (booty, dick, and pussy?), known for soundbytes incl. "Of all wars, these [religious wars] are the most detestable, since they are waged for no tangible gain, but only to impose a set of arbitrary credos on another", and "The malefactor becomes the creature of his own deeds." In 1967 he pub. The Last Castle. In 1983 he pub. Lyonesse, first in the Lyonesse Trilogy ("The Green Pearl", 1985, "Madouc", 1989).
In 1951 Knowle, Warwickshire-born John Wyndham (John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris) (1903-69) pub. The Day of the Triffids; a meteor shower causes plant spores to mutate into giant carnivores; f In 1955 he pub. The Chrysalids (Re-Birth), about a post-nuclear fundamentalist telepath society in Labrador. In 1957 he pub. The Midwich Cuckoos; an ET gives children telepathic abilities; filmed in 1960 as "Village of the Damned".
On Apr. 29, 1951 Christian Nyby's and Howard Hawks' B&W The Thing (from Another World) debuts, based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell (AKA Don A. Stuart); stars James Arness (brother of Peter Graves) as an 8-ft. carrot-like alien plant with green blood who terrorizes an Arctic research team.
On Aug. 7, 1951 Alexander Mackendrick's The Man in the White Suit (Ealing Studios) (Gen. Film Distributors) debuts, starring Alec Guinness as genius chemist Sidney Stratton, who invents the perfect material, super-strong, dirt-repellant, and white and luminous because it contains radioactive elements, causing the English textile industry to blow a gasket until its short shelf life is discovered; also stars Joan Greenwood as Daphne Birnley, and Cecil Parker as Alan Birnley.
On Sept. 28, 1951 Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still debuts, based on the 1940 story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates, morphing the Christ story into an extra-terrestrial, played by too-cool Michael Rennie as Klaatu, who comes to Earth to save it from nukes, winning the pop. over, only to be murdered by the govt. while his robot Gort watches; the soundbyte "Klaatu barada Nikto" gains sci-fi immortality; remade in 2008 starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu.
On Nov. 23, 1951 Lee Sholem's Superman and the Mole Men debuts as a pilot for the upcoming TV series, starring George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, and Jeff Corey. On Sept. 19, 1952 the B&W syndicated TV series Adventures of Superman debuts for 104 episodes (until Apr. 28, 1958); George Reeves (1914-59) plays Superman/Clark Kent, Phyllis Coates (1927-) (1st season) and Noel Darleen Neill (1920-2016) play his girlfriend Lois Lane; John Hamilton (1887-1958) plays his boss Perry White, and Jack Edward Larson (1928-2015) plays cub reporter Jimmy Olsen; goes color in 1955; "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's Superman!"; watch intro.
On Sept. 2, 1952 Howard Hawks' Monkey Business (not to be confused with the 1931 Marx Brothers film) debuts, starring Cary Grant as absent-minded chemist Dr. Barnaby Fulton, who develops an elixir of youth for his boss Oliver Oxly (Charles Coburn), and a monkey steals it and puts it into the water cooler; after Fulton drinks some, he turns into a hot teenie, going after his boss's secy. Lois Laurel (Marilyn Monroe), after which Fulton's wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers) drinks some, etc.
In 1952 an article in Collier's by Wernher von Braun predicts orbiting space stations.
In 1952 New York City-born sci-fi novelist Cyril Michael Kornbluth (1923-58) pub. Takeoff; also he and Frederik Pohl (1919-) (AKA Elton Andrews) pub. The Space Merchants. In 1953 he pub. The Syndic. In 1954 they pub. Search the Sky, followed by Gladiator-at-Law (1955), and Wolfbane (1959), set in 2203 after a rogue planet populated by the Pyramids steals Earth, sends it into interstellar space, and turns the Moon into a sun. In 1956 Pohl pub. Slave Ship, about a low-intensity global war between the U.S. and the Cow-Dyes (Caodai), where the CIA telepaths fall victim to the fatal Glotch caused by a Caodai bioweapon. In 1965 he pub. A Plague of Pythons, about the 8th plague of Earth; repub. in 1984 as "Demon in the Skull". In 1969 he pub. The Age of the Pussyfoot; Charles Dalgleish Forrester is cryofrozen in 2027 and revived in 2527, finding that his insurance has made him wealthy enough to buy a Joymaker PC. In 1976 he pub. Man Plus, about cyborg humans colonizing Mars. In 1977 he pub. Gateway. In 1979 he pub. Jem. In 1981 he pub. The Cool War, about a world reliant on solar power. In 1984 he pub. Years of the City. In 1986 he pub. The Coming of the Quantum Cats; alternate Earths where Nancy Reagan is pres. and JFK stays a senator and marries Marilyn, America goes far-right and Ronald Reagan stays on the left, and Joseph Stalin moves to America and becomes a capitalist. In 1988 he pub. Narabedla Ltd. (Aldebaran backwards), about an alien corp. run by human agents. In 1991 he pub. Stopping at Slowyear, about a planet with a 19-year-long year, and sheep with a form of prion disease. In 2011 he pub. All the Lives He Led.
In 1952 Indianapolis, Ind.-born Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007) pub. Player Piano; "At this point in history, 1952 A.D., our lives and freedom depend largely upon the skill and imagination and courage of our managers and engineers..."; Ilium, N.Y. In 1959 he pub. The Sirens of Titan, about a Martian invasion of Earth. In 1963 he pub. Cat's Cradle, about A-bomb co-inventor Felix Hoenikker (based on Irving Langmuir), who is playing you know what when the Hiroshima bomb is dropped, and also invents ice-nine, a molecule capable of freezing all the water on Earth, which narrator John (AKA Jonah) and the Hoenniker children take to the poor Caribbean island of San Lorenzo, where Bokononism, a new religion based on the absurdity of life and rubbing feet flourishes, and where the word "foma" (Thomas in Russian) means harmless lies; in 1971 the U. of Chicago awards Vonnegut a master's degree in anthropology for this novel. In 1965 he pub. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine; "A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees. The sum was $87,472,033.61 on June 1, 1964, to pick a day." In 1968 he pub. the short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House, rev. of "Canary in a Cathouse" (1962); incl. Harrison Bergeron (first pub. in 1961), about the 211th-213th amendments to the U.S. Constitution which punish excellence via handicapping. In 1969 he pub. Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death; shell-shocked Battle of the Bulge POW Chaplain's Asst. Billy Pilgrim witnesses the Feb. 13-15, 1945 firebombing of Dresden, then becomes "unstuck in time" and time-trips to the planet Tralfamadore, where he is put in a zoo and mated with a movie star; "All this happened, more or less" (first sentence); "That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book" (last sentence); "The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty"; his wife Valencia Merble and their son Robert Pilgrim, Kilgore Trout (based on sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon), Roland Weary, Paul Lazzaro, Edgar Derby, Howard W. Campbell Jr., Montana Wildhack, "Wild Bob"; his masterpiece?; "You'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner" (NYT Book Review); filmed in 1972. In 1973 he pub. Breakfast of Champions; or Goodbye Blue Monday; title is a General Mills slogan; about "two lonesome, skinny old men on a planet which was dying fast", namely, Planet Tralfamadore of "Slaughterhouse Five" (1969) fame; Pontiac Dealer Dwayne Hoover, and sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout (himself), who meet in Midland City, where Trout's book "Now It Can Be Told" turns Hoover into a homicidal maniac. In 1976 he pub. Slapstick; or, Lonesome No More!; the last pres. of the U.S. suffers from Tourette's Syndrome and becomes the king of Manhattan (Island of Death) with his twin sister. In 1979 he pub. Jailbird; about the Watergate scandal, or about Roy M. Cohn? In 1982 he pub. Deadeye Dick, a death of innocence novel about Rudy "Deadeye Dick" Waltz, who mistakenly shoots a pregnant woman between the eyes while she is vacuuming, then writes his memoirs, detailing the explosion of a neutron bomb in Midland, Ohio. In 1985 he pub. Galapagos; after an apocalypse the last humans on Santa Rosalia evolve into seal-people. In 1990 he pub. Hocus Pocus. In 1997 he pub. Timequake; people in Feb. 13, 2001 are thrown back to 1991; Kilgore Trout again.
On Feb. 18, 1953 Curt Siodmak's and Herbert L. Strock's B&W The Magnetic Monster debuts, starring Richard Carlson as Dr. Jeffrey Stewart, King Donovan as Dr. Dan Forbes, and Jean Byron as Connie Stewart of the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI), which investigates scientist Howard Denker (Leonard Mudie), who created a monster from serranium; first in a trilogy incl. "Riders to the Stars" (1954), and "Gog" (1954).
On Apr. 22, 1953 William Cameron Menzies' Invaders from Mars debuts, starring Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, and Leif Erickson fighting tall green slit-eyed humanoids and flying saucers, with 3K inflated latex condoms stuck to the blasted tunnel walls to appear like cooled bubbles; remade in 1986 by Tobe Hooper.
On May 15, 1953 W. Lee Wilder's B&W Phantom from Space debuts, about FCC investigators investigating a UFO crash in the San Fernando Valley and starting a manhunt for an invisible alien.
On May 25, 1953 Jack Arnold's It Came from Outer Space debuts, Universal's first 3-D film, starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, and Charles Drake.
On June 10, 1953 Phil Tucker's B&W 3-D Robot Monster debuts, in which evil alien Ro-Man Extension XJ-2 destroys all of humanity with his Calcinator Death Ray except eight persons who took an experimental serum, causing him to have to go after them the hard way; too bad, he falls in love with eldest daughter Alice, causing the Great Guidance to have to finish the job; worst movie ever made?
On Aug. 26, 1953 Byron Haskin's The War of the Worlds debuts, based on the 1898 H.G. Wells novel, starring looks-good-in-glasses Gene Barry (Eugene Klass) (1919-2009) as geiger counter-toting Dr. Clayton Forrester, and Ann Robinson as librarian Sylvia Van Buren, with great George Pal SFX; the Martians are into the number 3, and conquer the Earth with swanlike flying saucer machines sprouting rattlesnake-like heat ray pods in six days, the same it took for Jehovah to create it, until they are defeated by Earth bacteria after the remnant of faithful Earthlings pray to him; the last decade in which Hollyweird can get away with ennobling rather than cheapening the Christian belief in Armageddon?
On Sept. 3, 1953 Arthur Hilton's Cat-Women of the Moon debuts, starring Sonny Tufts as Laird Grainger, Victor Jory as Kip Reissner, and Marie Windsor as Helen Salinger, with a score by Elmer Bernstein.
In 1953 Alfred "Alfie" Bester (1913-87) pub. his first novel The Demolished Man, a sci-fi detective novel featuring telepathy, which becomes the winner of the first Hugo Award for sci-fi; also Who He? (The Rat Race); a TV game show host blacks out then wakes up and discovers that someone is out to get him. In 1955 he pub. The Stars My Destination (Tiger, Tiger); Gully Foyle does "The Count of Monte Cristo" with teleportation; ancestor of cyberpunk? In 1975 he pub. Extro (The Computer Connection) (The Indian Giver); Ned Curzon (AKA Guigol) becomes immortal via the destruction of Krakatoa, along with Nemo, Herb Wells, the Syndicate, Hillel the Jew, Borgia, Jacy, Sam Pepys, Dr. Sequoya Guess, and the supercomputer Extro. In 1980 he pub. Golem; Regina and her Bee Ladies conjure the Devil. In 1981 he pub. his last sci-fi novel The Deceivers, about Rogue Winter the Synergist.
In 1953 Liverpool, England-born Charles Eric Maine (David McIlwain) (1921-81) pub. his first novel Spaceways Satellite; a scientist builds a time machine, then a fellow scientist thrusts him into the future to make out with his wife. In 1955 he pub. Escapement (The Man Who Couldn't Sleep). In 1956 he pub. High Vacuum. In 1958 he pub. The Tide Went Out (Thirst!): A Novel for Adult Minds Only; Alph (World Without Men); the first male baby in 500 years is created by cloning, shaking up the entire lesbian society; "They had forgotten what men looked like." In 1959 he pub. Count-Down (Fire Past the Future); Crisis 2000. In 1960 he pub. Calculated RiskHe (The Man Who) Owned the World. In 1961 he pub. The Mind of Mr. Soames; a man in a coma since infancy is awakened; filmed in 1970. In 1962 he pub. The Darkest of Nights (Survival Margin). In 1966 he pub. B.E.A.S.T. (Biological Evolutionary Animal Simulation Test)
In 1954 Cedarwood, Colo.-raised Philip Kindred Dick (1928-82) ("the American Kafka") pub. The World Jones Made, which introduces the concept of a precog, a person who can see the future. In 1959 he pub. Time Out of Joint. In 1963 he pub. The Man in the High Castle; the Nazis won the war, but a girl from Canon City, Colo. travels to Denver to see whether they really did; his masterpiece? In 1965 he pub. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, set in the 21st cent., when the Proxans raise the temperature of Earth to force humans to leave for other worlds, causing many to escape with the illegal drug CAN-D and layouts and create a religious cult around Perky Pat. In 1968 he pub. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; a Blade Runner tries to buy a real sheep in a world without animals to prove he's not an android?; filmed in 1982 as "Blade Runner". In 1969 he pub. Ubik, set in 1992, where anti-telepath technician Joe Chip works for the "prudence organization" of Glen Runciter to enforce privacy against telepaths. On Feb. 3, 1973 "Total Recall", "Minority Reporter", "A Scanner Darkly" sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick (1928-82) has his 2-3-73 Episode when his pain medication for a recent wisdom tooth surgery is delivered by a "divine messenger" who shows him the face of God scanning the Earth from a place in the sky, causing him ever after to believe that the Universe we inhabit is "fake", and that a version of himself died, requiring him to explore theology and philosophy; on Mar. 2, 1980 he writes in his journal that he has been shown the secrets of the cosmos, so there was no reason for God to keep him around; he has a stroke and dies on Mar. 2, 1982.
On Jan. 14, 1954 Richard Carlson's Riders to the Stars debuts, starring William Lundigan and Richard Carlson as Dr. Richard Stanton and Dr. Jerry Lockwood, who are recruited for a secret outer space mission to collect meteorites, while Stanton falls for tester Dr. Jane Flynn (Martha Hyer).
On Feb. 23, 1954 the syndicated U.S. TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (B&W) debuts for 39 episodes (until Nov. 16, 1954), starring Richard Crane as clean-cut Rocky Jones, who likes to blastoff on missions to ludicrous non-existent planetoids and moons on Orbit Jet XV-2 and Silver Moon XV-3; space battles are fistfights rather than with ray guns with ETs that always look like humans in silly costumes.
0n Apr. 2, 1954 Am. Internat. Pictures (AIP) (originally Am. Releasing Co.) is founded in Los Angeles, Calif. by James Harvey Nicholson (1916-72) and Samuel Zachary Arkoff (1918-2001) to package independent low-budget B films as double features for teenagers, mainly by Detroit, Mich.-born "Pope of Pop Cinema" Roger William Corman (1926-) and British-born Alex Gordon (1922-2003), using the ARKOFF Formula (Action, Revolution, Killing, Oratory, Fantasy, Fornication), pioneering the use of focus groups; in 1960 Corman begins directing films based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe, starting with "House of Usher" (1960), followed by "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1961), "The Premature Burial" (1962), "Tales of Terror" (1962), "The Raven" (1963), "The Haunted Palace" (1963), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964), and "The Tomb of Ligeia" (1965); in 1963 AIP releases "Beach Party" starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, launching a series ending with #7 "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" (1966); in 1979 AIP is acquired by Filmways Inc., becoming Filmways Pictures.
On June 5, 1954 Herbert L. Strock's Gog: Frankenstein of Steel debuts, shot in widescreen 3-D color, starring Richard Egan as David Sheppard, Constance Dowling as Joanna Merrit, and Herbert Marshall as Dr. Van Ness of the OSI, who investigate deadly malfunctions of the NOVAC (Nuclear Operative Variable Automatic Computer) at a top-secret govt. facility in N.M., which control the mobile robots Gog and Magog.
On June 19, 1954 Gordon Douglas' Them!, based on a story by George Worthington Yates debuts, about atomic tests in N.M. causing ants to turn into giant maneaters, becoming the first sci-fi bug film; stars James Whitmore as Sgt. Ben Peterson, Edmund Gwenn as Dr. Harold Medford, Joan Weldon as Dr. Pat Medford, and James Arness as FBI agent Robert Graham; it even incl. appearances by Fess Parker and Leonard Nimoy; "Make me a sergeant, give me the booze."
On Sept. 9, 1954 Captain Midnight (Jet Jackson, Flying Commando) (an adaptation of the radio show that ran from 1938-49) debuts on CBS-TV for 39 episodes (until Jan. 21, 1956), starring Richard Webb (1915-93) in the title role, who flies a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket named the Silver Dart, Sid Melton (Sidney Meltzer) (1917-2011) as Ichabod "Ikky" Mudd ("Mudd with two Ds"), and Olan Evart Soule (1909-94) as Dr. Aristotle "Tut" Jones.
On Dec. 23, 1954 Richard O. Fleischer's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, based on the 1870 Jules Verne novel, the first sci-fi film produced by Walt Disney Productions debuts, starring James Mason as Capt. Nemo, Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, Paul Lukas as Prof. Pierre Aronnax, and Peter Lorre as Conseil.
In 1954 David MacDonald's B&W Devil Girl from Mars debuts, starring Patricia Laffan as Nyah the Devil Girl, who dresses in sexy black vinyl, and crash-lands in the Scottish moors after coming to Earth to seek men for her planet where men have become impotent.
On Nov. 3, 1954 Ishiro Honda's B&W Godzilla, King of the Monsters featuring campy 164-ft. not-a-T-Rex Godzilla (Gojira) (Jap. "gorilla + whale") (an obvious man in a suit on a sound stage, played by Haruo Nakajima) is released by the Japanese to work out their mental problems over the A-bomb; Hollywood mogul Joseph Edward Levine (1905-87) gets a U.S. vers. made by intercutting Canadian actor Raymond William Stacy Burr (1917-93), which is shown in 1956; "This is it, George. Steve Martin signing off from Tokyo, Japan"; the sequels introduce monsters Barugon (lizard), Biollante (giant rose), Doroga (jellyfish), Ebirah (shrimp), Gamera (turtle), Gappa (lizard), Ghidorah (3-headed monster), Gigantis (fire monster), Goke (vampire), Gorath (reptile), Gyaos (fox), Hedorah (smog monster), Mantanga (fungus), Mothra (moth), Rodan (pterodactyl), Varan (bat), Viras (squid), and Zigra (shark); watch trailer.
On June 1, 1955 Joseph M. Newman's This Island Earth, based on the 1952 novel by Salt Lake City, Utah-born Raymond Fisher Jones (1915-94) debuts, starring Rex Reason as scientist Cal Meachem, who order capacitors and is given instructions to build an Interocitor, and when he does mysterious man Exeter (Jeff Morrow) appears on the screen telling him he's passed the test, and is flown on a remote-controlled DC-3 to the wilds of Georgia, where he learns that Exeter is from planet Metaluna, and that he must help him in his war against the hideous Zagons; also stars Faith Domergue as Cal's babe Dr. Ruth Adams; watch trailer.
In July 1955 Robert Gordon's B&W It Came from Beneath the Sea debuts, starring Kenneth Tobey as Cmdr. Pete Mathews, and Faith Domergue and Donald Curtis as marine biologists Lesley Joyce and John Carter, who encounter a radioactive octopus from the Mindanao Deep that attacks the Golden Gate Bridge; watch trailer.
On Nov. 23, 1955 Jack Arnold's B&W Tarantula (Universal Pictures) debuts, set in Desert Rock, Ariz., starring John Agar as Dr. Matt Hastings, Leo G. Carroll as Prof. Gerald Deemer, Mara Corday as Stephanie Clayton, and Nestor Paiva as Sheriff Jack Andrews, who fight a giant you know what created by a mad scientist; Clint Eastwood appears uncredited as the jet squadron leader; "Giant spider strikes! Crawling terror 100 feet high!"; does $1.1M box office; launches the giant insect monster genre; watch trailer; view clip.
In Dec. 1955 Dan Milner's B&W The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues debuts, starring Kent Taylor, along with Roger Corman's B&W Day the World Ended, narrated by Chet Huntley, starring Richard Denning as Rich, and Mike "Touch" Connors as Tony, becoming the first double feature of Am. Internat. Pictures (originally Am. Releasing Corp.), which makes them both for $100K.
In 1955 the World Science Fiction Society founds the Hugo Awards for writers, named after "Father of Magazine Science Fiction" Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967); Rod Serling's Twilight Zone is the first TV show to win; sci-fi king Ray Bradbury never wins until he is given a "retrospective" award in 2004 for "Fahrenheit 451".
In 1955 Norfolk, England-born Oxford bookseller Brian Wilson Aldiss (1925-) pub. his first novel The Brightfount Diaries, a semi-autobio. novel. In 1957 after winning a short story contest by The Observer that had to be set in the year 2500, he pub. Space, Time and Nathaniel (short stories), allowing him to go full-time as a writer. In 1958 he pub. Non-Stop (Starship); a member of a primordial tribe investigates the jungle corridors, uncovering the true nature of his universe. In 1959 he pub. No Time Like Tomorrow (short stories), incl. "Outside". In 1960 he pub. The Interpreter (Bow Down to Nul), about Earthling Gary Towler, who defies the 3-armed giant aliens who run the Partussy Earth Co-Prosperity Sphere of 4M planets. In 1961 he pub. The Primal Urge, about a society where people wear an Emotion Register on their foreheads that glows when they get sexually aroused; banned in Ireland. In 1962 he pub. Hothouse (The Long Afternoon of Earth), in which the Earth stops rotating. In 1964 he pub. Greybeard, about a society with no younger generation. In 1965 he pub. Earthworks, about an overpopulated police state where the wealthy Farmers exploit rural prison labor while chasing the subversive Travellers. In 1966 he pub. The Saliva Tree and Other Strange Growths (short stories), followed by An Age (1967), about a future society hooked on CSD who can travel backwards in time in their minds using the Undermind. In 1967 he pub. the New Wave novel Report on Probability A, are you smart enough to try it? In 1969 he pub. Barefoot in the Head In 1969 he pub. the short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, which is filmed in 2001 as "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". In 1970 he pub. Neanderthal Planet (short stories). In 1970 he pub. The Hand-Reared Boy, about male masturbation, #1 in the Horace Stubbs Saga, followed by A Soldier Erect (1971), and A Rude Awakening (1978). In 1970 he pub. The Moment of Eclipse (short stories), followed by The Book of Brian Aldiss (The Cosmic Inferno) (short stories) (1972). In 1973 he pub. Frankenstein Unbound; Joe Bodenland of 21st cent. America passes through a timeslip and meets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley in their villa on Lake Geneva, along with a real Frankenstein, and hooks up with Mary Shelley; filmed in 1990. In 1977 he pub. Brothers of the Head, about rockers who are conjoined twins; filmed in 2006. In 1982 he pub. Helliconia Spring, followed by Helliconia Summer (1983), and Helliconia Winter (1985), about a planet with cents.-long seasons. In 1986 he pub. Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction
In 1955 Milwaukee, Wisc.-born Jack Finney (1911-95) pub. The Body Snatchers; first pub. in Colliers in 1954; alien invaders in seed-pod form take over sleeping human bodies in Santa Mira, Calif. with emotionless duplicates that only live five years, threatening humanity with extinction; satire of modern conformity?; filmed in 1956, 1978, 1993, and 2007 - there's something about the word snatch that causes them to flock to the theaters? On Feb. 5, 1956 Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, written by Daniel Mainairing based on the 1955 Jack Finney novel about the Pod People stars Kevin McCarthy (brother of writer Mary McCarthy) in a post-McCarthy paranoid sci-fi epic starring a, er, McCarthy?
In 1955 Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Robert Silverberg (1935-) pub. his first novel Revolt on Alpha C, about Space Patrol Academy cadet Larry Stark, who visits Alpha Centauri. He goes on to crank out one or more sci-fi stories a week until 1959, then gets into more serious sci-fi, starting with The Dawning Light (1959) (along with Randall Garrett under the collective alias Robert Randall), followed by Planet of Death, (1967), To Live Again (1969), Nightwings (1969), Downward to the Earth (1970), The World Inside (1971), A Time of Changes (1971), Son of Man (1971), Dying Inside (1972), Stochastic Man (1975), Shadrach in the Future (1976), Homefaring (1982), Sailing to Byzantium (1984), At Winter's End (1988), The Queen of Springtime (1990), The Positronic Man (with Isaac Asimov) (1992), used as the basis of the 1999 film "Bicentennial Man", and Roma Eterna (2003), about how Moses' bid for freedom from Egypt fails, meaning that there is no Jesus Christ, and later the Romans assassinate Muhammad, stopping Islam, allowing the Roman Empire to survive to the present day.
On Jan. 29, 1956 Koji Shima's Warning from Space (Mysterious Satellite) debuts, based on the novel by Gentaro Nakajima, becoming the first Japanese color sci-fi film, about starfish-like ETs disguising themselves as humans to try to warn them of an approaching rogue planet.
On Mar. 15, 1956 Fred M. Wilcox's Forbidden Planet debuts, based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" set in the year 2200 C.E. on Altair-4, starring Walter Pidgeon as Krell-haunted Dr. Edward Morbius, Anne Francis as his tempting virginal daughter Altaira, Leslie Nielsen as mister lucky Cmdr. John J. Adams, and Robby the Robot as himself; it is later looted blind by Gene Roddenberry for his "Star Trek" series, who also steals the pure-white Daniel Boone (Fess Parker) and brilliant educated halfbreed sidekick Mingo (Ed Ames) for his Capt. Kirk and Spock?
On May 11, 1956 Edward D. Wood Jr.'s Bride of the Monster (Atom) debuts, starring Bela Lugosi as mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff, who tries to turn 12 kidnapped men into supermen using atomic energy, while feeding unwelcome visitors to a giant octopus; ; Vornoff's mute asst. is played by giant Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson; soso stupid it's brilliant?
On July 1, 1956 Fred F. Sears' Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (Invasion of the Flying Saucers) debuts, based on the 1953 book "Flying Saucers from Outer Space" by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe; stars Hugh Marlowe as Dr. Russell A. Marvin, and Joan Taylor as Carol Marin; features SFX by Ray Harryhausen.
On July 15, 1956 Roger Corman's B&W It Conquered the World debuts, starring Lee Van Cleef as embittered scientist Tom Anderson, who invites an alien from Venus to eliminate human emotions, only to find it wants to you know what by assimilating human minds; also stars Beverly Garland as his wife Claire, and Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson.
In Aug. 1956 Edward L. Cahn's B&W The She Creature debuts, starring Chester Morris as sleazy carnival hypnotist Dr. Carlo Lombardi, who regresses Andrea Talbott (Marla English) into a prehistoric monster which commits murders.
On Sept. 6, 1956 Cy Roth's Fire Maidens from Outer Space debuts, about an expdition to Jupiter's 13th moon, starring Anthony Dexter as the head astronaut, who is befriended by fire maiden Hestia (Susan Shaw), one of 14, and takes on "the man with the head of a beast" (zippers visible); features music from Alexander Borodin's opera "Prince Igor".
On Oct. 17, 1956 Mike Todd's Around the World in Eighty Days debuts, written by Marx Brothers writer S.J. Perelman based on the 1872 Jules Verne novel, becoming the greatest box office sensation since the arrival of TV, lasting three years in theaters and grossing $25M in the U.S. and $100M worldwide; features a cast of 40+ stars, incl. David Niven as Phileas Fogg, and Cantinflas as his valet Passepartout; 10K extras are used in the bullfighting scene filmed near Madrid, and 6K buffalo are used in a stampede; Todd coins the word "cameo" after there are 42 of them in this flick; the U.S. debut of Mexican actor Cantinflas (Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes) (1911-93), who becomes the world's highest-paid actor; John Farrow (1904-63), father of actress Mia Farrow by wife Maureen O'Sullivan wins an Oscar for the script.
On Oct. 13, 1956 Swedish poet Harry Edmund Martinson (1904-78) pub. Aniara, 103 poems about a spaceship carrying 8K people away from a nuked Earth.
In 1956 Tacoma, Wash.-born Irish-Am. writer Frank Patrick Herbert (1920-86) pub. Under Pressure (The Dragon in the Sea), which inspires Sir William Rede Hawthorne (1913-) to invent the Dracone, a floating barge made of rubbered cloth that can be filled with crude oil and towed; too bad, nightmares of it leaking cause it to be killed. In 1965 he pub. Dune after it was rejected by 13 pubs. before Chilton (Radnor, Penn.) takes a chance on it, about Paul Muaddib, the Messiah of dune planet Arrakis; "I must not fear; fear is the mind-killer" (Bene-Gesserits). In 1982 he pub. The White Plague; a disgruntled Irish-Am. scientist invents a plague which only strikes women; sci-fi on the surface, Celtic potshots at the stankin' English beneath.
In 1956 London, England-born Edwin Charles Tubb (1919-2010) pub. The Space-Born; the 16th gen. of a starship crew enact a law eliminating people when they hit 40. In 1967 he pub. The Winds of Gath; first in the 33-vol. Dumarest (of Terra) Saga (ends 2008).
On Feb. 10, 1957 Roger Corman's B&W Attack of the Crab Monsters debuts, pioneering sci-fi horror humor; brings in $1M on a $70K budget.
On Feb. 10, 1957 Roger Corman's B&W Not of This Earth debuts, about strange sunglasses-wearing Paul Johnson (Paul Birch), survivor of the dying planet Davanna, who comes to Earth to check out human blood for transport; part of a double feature with "Attack of the Crab Monsters".
On Feb. 22, 1957 Jack Arnold's The Incredible Shrinking Man debuts, based on a novel by Richard Matheson stars Grant Williams as Scott Carey, who gets doused by radioactive mist, then shrinks by the day, entering a world of horror.
In Apr. 1957 Kurt Neumann's B&W Kronos, Destroyer of Worlds debuts, starring Jeff Morrow as Dr. Leslie Gaskell, and Barbara Lawrence as Vera Hunter, who fight a gigantic robot that lands in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico and begins draining Earth's power, absorbing an A-bomb before they figure how to reverse its polarity and cause it to feed on itself.
In June 1957 Edward Cahn's B&W Invasion of the Saucer Men (Hell Creatures) debuts, about a flying saucer invading the U.S. countryside and being defeated by a band of teenagers incl. Steven Terrell and Gloria Castillo using their car headlights; released as a double feature with "I Was a Teenage Werewolf". In 1965 Larry Buchanan's Attack of the Eye Creatures is a color remake for TV.
In June 1957 Arnold Laven's B&W The Monster That Challenged the World debuts, about giant mollusks from Salton Sea, Calif., starring Tim Holt as Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger, Audrey Dalton as Gail MacKenzie, and Hans Conried as Dr. Jess Rogers.
In June 1957 Fred F. Sears' The Night the World Exploded debuts, starring William Leslie as Dr. David Conway, Tristram Coffin as Dr. Ellis Morton, and Kathryn Grant as Laura Hutchinson, a team of earthquake prediction scientists who predict a wave of earthquakes centered beneath the Carlsbad Caverns in N.M., caused by mysterious Element 112.
In Aug. 1957 Virgil W. Vogel's B&W The Land Unknown debuts, about a U.S. Navy expedition to Antarctica led by Cmdr. Harold "Hal" Roberts (Jock Mahoney) and reporter Margaret "Maggie" Hathaway (Shirley Patterson), which encounters unusually warm waters and mean dinosaurs.
On Sept. 2, 1957 Nathan H. Juran's B&W The Deadly Mantis debuts, about a 200-ft. praying mantis unleashed from the melting polar ice caps, which attacks the Washington Monument.
Red Moon Rising, Or, The long Eisenhower Siesta ends, and now the smug Americans become desperate to keep up with the Russkies or be buried? On Oct. 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launches the beach ball-sized (22.8 in. diam.), 183.9 lb. Sputnik I, the first manmade satellite, which orbits the Earth every 96.2 min.; Operation Moonwatch, organized by Am. astronomer Fred Lawrence Whipple tracks its movements; on Oct. 4 the Soviet news agency Tass announces it, with the soundbyte "Artificial earth satellites will pave the way for space travel, and it seems that the present generation will witness how the freed and conscious labor of the people of the new Socialist society turns even the most daring of man's dreams into reality"; Americans, who had believed that all Russians did was steal their inventions are shocked; Khrushchev utters the soundbyte "People of the whole world are pointing to the satellite... saying that the U.S. has been beaten"; Clare Boothe Luce calls the Sputnik's beep an "outer-space raspberry to a decade of American pretensions that the American way of life is a gilt-edge guarantee of our national superiority"; after a TV speech on Nov. 7 by Pres. Eisenhower, the U.S. launches a massive $100B catch-up effort; Sputnik I is a sphere the size of a beach ball (22.8 in. diam.), weighing 183.9 lbs., and orbiting the Earth once every 96.2 min. (18K mph) at an apogee of 583 mi. to a perigee of 143 mi. while emitting 1 watt A-flat beeping sounds at 20-40 MHz from four radio antennas, launched from a Russian rocket with 200K lbs. of thrust, which is all far better than the planned U.S. Vanguard project, a 21.5 lb. satellite designed to be lifted to a 300 mi. orbit with a 27K lb. thrust rocket; the course of Sputnik takes it over most of the inhabited Earth so that as many people as possible can see it with binoculars, shifting 4 deg. a day, and purposely designed so that Americans are the last to be able to view it (Oct. 20); the batteries wear out after three weeks; no sooner does that happen than on Nov. 3 cone-shaped 1,129.29 lb. Sputnik II is launched, orbiting at 1,056 mi. alt., filled with scientific instruments, along with a female part-Samoyed terrier named Kudryavka (Russian for Little Curly), later changed to Laika (1954-7) (Russian for Barker) (who runs out of oxygen and dies within two days), scaring Americans that the Commies will get to the Moon first and attack Earth from it?; Sputnik II reenters Earth's atmosphere on Apr. 14 after 162 days in orbit; as the news breaks, Ike is returning from a West Point class of 1915 reunion and homecoming football game, and when he refuses to rush into the space program, his public approval plummets from 71% to 57%; the death of Laika pisses-off the Nat. Canine Defense League (founded 1891); the brains behind the Soviet space program is Lt. Gen. Kerim Aliyevich Kerimov (1917-2003), whose identity is kept secret for decades; by the year 2000 over 25K objects are put into orbit, of which almost 9K remain orbiting; Sputnik eventually falls onto the middle of 8th St. in Manitowoc, Wisc., where a brass ring is placed.
On Oct. 1, 1957 Nathan H. Juran's The Brain from Planet Arous debuts, a campy sci-fi flick that later becomes a classic about an alien brain named Gor, who possesses young scientist Steve March (John Agar) to take over the Earth, until another brain named Vol arrives in a dog to take him on, although his Fissure of Rolando is his weakness; "After I'm gone your Earth will be free to live out its miserable span of existence as one of my satellites, and that's how it's going to be."
On Oct. 25, 1957 Bert I. Gordon's The Amazing Colossal Man debuts, starring Glenn Langan as Army Lt. Col. Glenn Manning, who is seriously burned by plutonium radiation and grows into a 60-ft. giant whose heart can't hack it, causing him to lose his mind while the govt. races to find a cure and/or kill him; followed by "War of the Colossal Beast" (1958).
In 1957 Bert I. Gordon's B&W Beginning of the End debuts, starring Peter Graves as mad scientist Ed Wainwright, who uses radiation to grow giant veggies and inadvertenly creates giant locusts that attack Chicago with cheesy SFX; worse sci-fi flick ever?
In 1957 London-born Australian novelist Nevil Shute (Nevil Shute Norway) (1899-1960) pub. On the Beach, about the aftereffects of an atomic war in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, where the residents succomb to radiation poisoning and commit govt.-sponsored suicide; filmed in 1959. On Dec. 17, 1959 Stanley Kramer's B&W On the Beach debuts, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire; does $2.2M box office on a $2.9M budget.
On May 19, 1958 Nathan H. Juran's Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman debuts, starring Allison Hayes as wealthy Calif. woman Nancy Fowler Archer, who has an encounter with an ET and grows you know how tall; an excuse to let the audience look up a woman's skirt?; refilmed in 1993 starring Darryl Hannah, in 1995 as "Attack of the 50 foot Centerfold" starring J.J. North, and in 2012 as "Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader" in 3-D starring Jena Sims.
On June 18, 1958 Jack Arnold's B&W The Space Children debuts, about a space brain that teaches the children of scientists to stop a nuclear war; features Michael Crawford before being selected for "The Rifleman", Russell Johnson before being selected for "Gilligan's Island", and Jackie Coogan before being selected for "The Addams Family".
On Aug. 29, 1958 Kurt Neumann's The Fly debuts, starring Vincent Price as Francois, the brother of mad scientist Andre Delambre (David Hedison), who turns himself into a fly, but not quite, only his head, while his human head gets transplanted to a white-headed fly in the most shocking and sensational horror scene in 1950s film history?; Patricia Owens plays Andre's wife Helen; does $3M box office on a $495K budget; followed by "Return of the Fly" (1959) and "Curse of the Fly" (1965); remade in 1986 by David Cronenberg; "Once it was human - even as you and I."
On Sept. 7, 1958 Edward Bernds' Queen of Outer Space debuts, starring Laurie Mitchell as Venusian Queen Yllana, and Zsa Zsa Gabor as courtier Talleah, who get lucky when the first men they've seen land incl. Capt. Patterson (Eric Fleming) and his crew, but have to fight the man-hating queen first.
On Sept. 12, 1958 Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.'s The Blob debuts, starring Steve McQueen in his first starring role as a rebel who saves a town from an aggressive ET jello; "It's indescrible, it's indestructible, it's insatiable".
On Oct. 1, 1958 Gene Fowler Jr.'s I Married a Monster from Outer Space debuts, starring Tom Tryon as an alien, and Gloria Talbott as a human babe he tries to mate with after all the alien babes on his home planet die out.
On Oct. 7, 1958 Quentin Lawrence's The Crawling Eye (Trollenberg Terror) debuts, starring Laurence Payne as journalist Philip Truscott, and Forrest Tucker as U.N. troubleshooter Alan Brooks, who deal with ET monsters with Molotov cocktails and bombing raids.
On Nov. 4, 1958 the B&W Planet Prince (Prince of Space) debuts on the Japanese Nippon TV Network for 49 episodes (until Oct. 6, 1959), starring Toshio Mimura.
On Nov. 26, 1958 Byron Haskin's From the Earth to the Moon debuts, based on the 1865 Jules Verne novel, starring Joseph Cotten, George Sanders, Debra Paget, and Don Dubbins.
In 1958 Bernard L. Kowalski's B&W Night of the Blood Beast (original title "Creature from Galaxy 27"), produced by Roger Corman and his brother Gene Corman debuts, about a cheesy-looking alien creature who implants embryos in the body of astronaut John Corcoran (Michael Emmet) in orbit then stalks him on Earth.
In 1958 Robert J. Gurney Jr.'s Terror from the Year 5000 debuts, starring Salome Jens as a deformed woman brought back from the year you know what, where her world has been devastated by radioactivity, causing her to seek healthy males to bring back with her.
In 1958 Eugene Burdick (1918-65) and William Lederer (1912-) pub. the bestseller The Ugly American, about how U.S. officials should learn local languages and customs to win hearts and minds in Indochina. In Oct. 1962 Burdick and John Harvey Wheeler (1918-2004) pub. Fail-Safe, about a computer glitch that causes USAF nuclear bombers to attack the Soviet Union; filmed in 1964; Wheeler was born in Waco, Tex., natch? In 1964 Burdick pub. The 480: A Novel of Politics; engineer John Tatch seeks the 1964 Repub. pres. nomination, and computers are used to simulate 480 groups to forecast his probable success. In 1965 he pub. Nina's Book. In 1966 Burdick and Lederer Sarkhan; Southeast Asian nation Sarkhan is targeted for Commie takeover. In 1977 they pub. The Deceptive American.
On Mar. 3, 1959 Eugene Lourie's B&W The Giant Behemoth (Behemoth, the Sea Monster) debuts, about a mutated monster in England, with SFX by "King Kong" creator Willis O'Brien, complete with screams from the 1933 movie; "The biggest thing since creation."
On July 22, 1959 Edward D. Wood Jr.'s Plan 9 from Outer Space (original title "Grave Robbers from Outer Space") debuts, starring Gregory Walcott, Tor Johnson, Maila "Vampira" Nurmi, Mona McKinnon, and Bela Lugosi; so bad it's good?; enjoys a resurgence in 1980 when Michael Medved and Harry Medved call it the "worst movie ever made".
On Aug. 1, 1959 David Lowell Rich's Have Rocket, Will Travel debuts, signaling the comeback of the Three Stooges in the first full-length feature film, sans Curly, with Moe, Larry, and "6th Stooge" Curly Joe DeRita in his debut.
On Sept. 30, 1959 Men into Space (B&W) debuts on CBS-TV for 38 episodes (until 1960), starring William Lundigan (1914-75) as Col. Edward McCauley, who goes everywhere incl. the Moon.
On Oct. 2, 1959 U.S. commercial TV deviates from its usual vapidity with the debut of The Twilight Zone (B&W), narrated by sterling silver genius Rod Serling (1924-75) for 156 episodes (until June 19, 1964); the cool Twilight Zone Theme was composed by Romanian-born French composer Marius Constant (1925-2004); the first episode is Where Is Everybody?, starring Earl Holliman; on Nov. 20 episode #8 Time Enough At Last debuts, based on a 1953 short story by Lyn Venable, starring Burgess Meredith as nearsighted bookworm Henry Bemis; on Jan. 22, 1960 episode #16 The Hitch-Hiker debuts, starring Inger Stevens as Nan Adams, and creepy Leonard Strong as the hitchhiker; when she later commits suicide and it is revealed that she had a semi-secret black hubby, the phrase "Going my way?" gets a new meaning?
On Oct. 7, 1959 Irvin Yeaworth's 4D Man (The Evil Force) debuts, starring James Congdon as scientist Tony Nelson, who develops a machine that puts objects into a state where they can pass through other objects, and uses it on himself, becoming an arch criminal; Robert Lansing plays his brother Scott, who invents cargonite, a material that is so dense it becomes impenetrable; Lee Meriwether plays Tony's babe; too bad, in his 4-D state Scott ages at jet speed, which he can reverse only by draining people's lifeforce.
In Oct. 1959 Bernard L. Kowalski's B&W Attack of the Giant Leeches debuts, written by Leo Gordon, about atomic radiation from Cape Canaveral creating you know what in the Everglades.
In 1959 Swedish composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-68) debuts his space opera Aniara, with libretto by Erik Lindegren based on the 1956 poem by Harry Edmund Martinson; a spaceship leaves the poisoned Earth for Mars, but ends up on a doomed 20-year journey to the constellation Lyra.
In 1959 Philly-born Benjamin William "Ben" Bova (1932-) pub. The Star Conquerors, first in the Watchmen series (1959-72), about how man has spread throughout the stars and must unite to fight ancient enemies. In 1981 he pub. Orion, first in the Orion series (1984-2011), about marketing chief John O'Ryan, who discovers that he's really Orion the Hunter, who must prevent Ahriman the Dark Lord from conquering Earth. In 1981 he also pub. Voyagers, first in the Voyagers series (1981-2009), about Stoner, who fights a worldwide conspiracy over the approach of a fiery alien object. In 1985 he pub. Privateers, first in the Grand Tour series (1985-2009), about rebel billionaire Dan Randolph and his struggle to control the wealth of space. In 1992 he and A.J. Austin pub. The Save the Sun, first in the To Save the Sun series (1992-4).
In Apr. 1959 Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Daniel Keyes (1927-2014) pub. Flowers for Algernon in The Mag. of Fantasy & Science Fiction), about mentally disabled man Charlie, who is changed by experimental surgery into a genius until it wears off; novel version pub. in 1966; filmed in 1968 as "Charly" starring Cliff Robertson.
In 1959 New Smyrna Beach, Fla.-born Walter Michael Miller Jr. (1923-96) pub. the 1-hit wonder A Canticle for Leibowitz; 600 years after the world nukes itself in the Flame Deluge, the Albertian Order of Leibowitz between Salt Lake City and El Paso tries to revive man's scientific knowledge, and succeeds in 3174, only to guess what all over again in 3781?; the author helped bomb the Monte Cassino Monastery in WWII, and this is his atonement? On Jan. 9, 1996 he commits suicide; his only novel "A Canticle for Leibowitz" ends with a Roman Catholic argument against suicide.
In the 1960s New Wave Science Fiction is launched (ends 1980), eschewing the hard science of pulp sci-fi in favor of soft sci-fi, experimentation, and lit. and artistic sensibility.
On Feb. 26, 1960 Kurt Metzig's First Spaceship on Venus, produced in East Germany debuts, set in 1985, when a "spool" is found in the Gobi Desert linked to the 1908 Tunguska explosion, causing a spaceship to be sent to Venus to investigate, finding that the Venusians intended to destroy Earth but destroyed themselves first.
In Feb. 1960 Ib Melchior's The Angry Red Planet debuts, starring Gerald Mohr; it is filmed using the Cinemagic process (which takes B&W film and inverts the colors, turning white into blood red), morphing "The Wizard of Oz" experience into giant amoebas and bat-rat-spider-crabs on Mars, becoming a classic of camp.
In June 1960 Wolf Rilla's Village of the Damned debuts, based on the novel "The Midwich Cuckoos" by John Wyndham about English children with ray-gun eyes who are the vanguard of an alien invasion; it is followed by the even better 1963 sequel The Children of the Damned, dir. by Anton Leader.
In July 1960 Edgar G. Ulmer's B&W The Amazing Transparent Man debuts, starring James Griffith as ex-U.S. Army Maj. Paul Krenner, who forces former POW scientist Dr. Peter Ulof (Ivan Trisault) to build an invisibility machine.
In July 1960 Edgar G. Ulmer's B&W Beyond the Time Barrier debuts, starring Robert Clarke as USAF Maj. Bill Allison, who flies an experimental aircraft into suborbital flight, loses radio contact, and discovers that he entered a wormhole and landed in the year 2024 near the underground city of Citadel, run by the Supreme (Vladimir Sokoloff) and his mute telepathic granddaughter Princess Trirene (Darlene Tompkins).
On Aug. 17, 1960 George Pal's The Time Machine, debuts, based on the 1895 H.G. Wells novel, starring Rod Taylor as Wells, who travels forward to the year 802,701, watching humans destroy their own civilization and their descendants degenerate into the deep-dwelling cannibalistic Morlocks and the surface-dwelling food animal Eloi; Alan Young plays David/James Filby, and Yevette Mimieux plays Weena the Eloi, who is worth going back, er, forward for; does $2.61M box office on a $829K budget.
The first Jodie Fosters with those accents they try so desperately to shed, pure West Virginia are already into Carl Sagan's Contact? In 1960 Project Ozma is founded by Chicago, Ill.-born astronomer Frank Donald Drake (1930-) of Cornell U. in Green Bank, W. Va., doing the first research for the SETI program, looking for signs of extraterrestrial life on the 1.420 GHZ band. In 1961 Drake develops the Drake Equation to estimate the number of detectable civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. The U.S. govt. stops funding SETI in 1995.
In 1960 Bristol, Penn.-born Poul William Anderson (1926-2001) pub. The High Crusade; a spaceship lands in 1345 England. In 1963 he pub. Is There Life on Other Worlds? In 1964 he pub. Trader to the Stars. In 1967 he pub. Tau Zero; a spaceship is caught in an uncontrollable acceleration. In 1974 he pub. Fire Time. In 1980 he pub. The Boat of a Million Years; people who do not die of old age but can be killed.
On Feb. 25, 1961 Poul Bang's Reptilicus debuts, about a giant dragon dug up by Danish miners in Lapland that can regenerate itself from a section; a U.S. version dir. by Sidney W. Pink is released in 1962.
On Mar. 2, 1961 Coleman Francis' B&W The Beast of Yucca Flats debuts, starring Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson as defecting Russian scientist Joseph Javorsky, who tries to give military secrets to the U.S. and is chased by KGB agents into the desert, where he is caught in an A-bomb explosion at a test range and turns into a killer monster; worse sci-fi horror film ever made?
On July 12, 1961 Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea debuts, starring Walter Pidgeon as Adm. Harriman Nelson, designer of the U.S. submarine Seaview, Robert Sterling as Capt. Lee Crane, and Joan Fontaine as pshrink Dr. Susan Hiller; Frankie Avalon appears and sings the theme song Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; turned into a 1964 ABC-TV show. On Sept. 14, 1964 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, based on the 1961 film and set in the 1970s debuts on ABC-TV for 110 episodes (until Mar. 31, 1968), starring John Richard Basehart (1914-84) as Adm. Nelson, designer of the U.S. submarine Seaview, and Albert David Hedison Jr. (1927-) as Capt. Lee Crane; the first 32 episodes are B&W.
On Nov. 17, 1961 The Twilight Zone episode #75 The Midnight Sun debuts, with Rod Serling narrating the introduction: "The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is 'doomed,' because the people you've just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man's little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries - they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it's high noon, the hottest day in history, and you're about to spend it in the Twilight Zone." "In an attempt to console Mrs. Bronson, Norma shows her an oil painting of a waterfall cascading into a lush pond. Mrs. Bronson deliriously claims that she can feel the coolness and delightfully splashes in the imaginary waters before dying from heat stroke. Norma sits in shock as the thermometer surges past 130 °F (54 °C) and shatters." The ending is a shocking plot twist: "The scene cuts to the apartment at night with heavy snow outside the windows. The thermometer reads -10 °F (-23 °C). Norma has been bedridden with a high fever, Mrs. Bronson and a doctor have been tending to her. The Earth moving closer to the sun is revealed to be only a fever dream. In reality, the Earth is moving away from the sun, and the world is freezing to death." Serling's closing narration: "The poles of fear, the extremes of how the Earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare, respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers in the Twilight Zone." Watch clip.
On Nov. 23, 1961 Val Guest's The Day the Earth Caught Fire (British Lion Films) (Universal-International) debuts, starring Edward Judd, Leo Mckern, and Janet Munro in an apocalyptic film about U.S.-Soviet nuclear weapons tests knocking the Earth out of orbit, causing it to move closer to the Sun; watch trailer.
On Dec. 13, 1961 William Marshall's B&W The Phantom Planet debuts, starring Dean Fredericks as Capt. Frank Chapman, and Richard Weber as Lt. Ray Makonnen, who rescue a Pegasus spacecraft that disappears en route from the Moon to Mars, and end up on an asteroid filled with Lilliputian aliens; 2atch film.
In 1961 Koji Ota's B&W Invasion of the Neptune Men (Iron Sharp) debuts, starring Sonny Chiba as superhero Iron Sharp (Space Chief).
In 1961 Shanghai-born dystopia lover James Graham "J.G." Ballard (1930-2009) pub. his first novel The Wind from Nowhere, about hurricanes destroying civilization. In 1962 he pub. The Voices of Time and Other Stories, along with Billennium (short stories). In 1962 he pub. The Drowned World, set in 2145 after the polar ice caps melt. In 1963 he pub. Passport to Eternity (short stories), and The Four-Dimensional Nightmare (short stories). In 1964 he pub. The Burning World, and The Terminal Beach (short stories). In 1965 he pub. The Drought. In 1966 he pub. The Crystal World, and The Impossible Man (short stories). In 1967 he pub. The Venus Hunters (short stories), The Overloaded Man (short stories), The Disaster Area (short stories), incl. "The Subliminal Man", and The Day of Forever (short stories). In 1969 he pub. The Atrocity Exhibition (Love and Napalm: Export USA) (short stories); kinky photos by Ana Barrado and artwork by Phoebe Gloeckner; filmed in 2001 by Jonathan Weiss. In 1971 he pub. Vermillion Sands (short stories), along with Chronopolis and Other Stories, and Low-Flying Aircraft and Other Stories. In 1973 he pub. Crash, about car-crash sexual fetishism (symphorophilia); filmed in 1996 by David Cronenberg. In 1974 he pub. Concrete Island. In 1975 he pub. High Rise. In 1979 he pub. The Unlimited Dream Company. In 1981 he pub. Hello America, about an expedition to 2114 America after it collapses ecologically and its pop. is evacuated. In 1982 he pub. Myths of the Near Future (short stories). On Sept. 13, 1984 he pub. Empire of the Sun, about young Brit Jamie Graham, who becomes separated when the Japanese occupy Shanghai, and ends up in a POW camp; filmed in 1987 by Steven Spielberg. In 1985 he pub. The Voices of Time (short stories). In 1987 he pub. The Day of Creation, about maniac Dr. Mallory, who wants to green the Sahara. In 1988 he pub. Running Wild, about Pangbourne Village 30 mi. outside of London, and Memories of the Space Age (short stories). In 1990 he pub. War Fever (short stories). In 1991 he pub. The Kindness of Women, sequel to "Empire of the Sun" (1984). In 1994 he pub. Rushing to Paradise. In 1998 he pub. Cocaine Nights. In 2000 he pub. Super-Cannes. In 2003 he pub. Millennium People. In 2006 he pub. his last novel Kingdom Come.
On Feb. 9, 1962 James Neilson's Moon Pilot, a Disney film based on the 1960 Robert Bruckner novel "Starfire" debuts, starring Tom Tryon as Capt. Richmond Talbat, who goes on a secret mission to the Moon, and hooks up with "new Brigitte Bardot" Lyrae (Dany Saval), an alien from Beta Lyrae; also stars Edmond O'Brien as FBI agent McClosky, which pisses-off FBI dir. J. Edgar Hoover again, causing him to get the script changed to take out the name FBI.
In Mar. 1962 Sidney W. Pink's Journey to the Seventh Planet debuts, co-written by Ib Melchior, starring John Agar as Capt. Don Graham, leader of a space expedition to Uranus in peaceful OWG-run 2001, where they encounter a Brain Being in a cave who creates a forest-like virtual reality complete with old flames; shot in Denmark on a $75K budget.
On May 3, 1962 Joseph Green's The Brain (Head) That Wouldn't Die debuts, starring Jason Everas as mad scientist Dr. Bill Corner, whose fiancee Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) is decapitated in an auto accident, and he keeps her head alive in his lab in a liquid-filled tray - the inspiration for "Deep Throat"?
On July 4, 1962 Edward Bernds' B&W The Three Stooges in Orbit debuts, starring Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe DeRita fighting mean aliens Ogg (George N. Neise) and Zogg (Rayford Barnes).
On July 5, 1962 Ray Milland's Panic in Year Zero! (End of the World), a remake of the Biblical Lot story debuts, starring Milland as Harry Baldwin, Jean Hagen as his wife Ann, Frankie Avalon as their son Rick, and Mary Mitchell as their daughter Karen, who leave LA just before it is nuked and hole-up in a cave.
In July 1962 Steve Sekely's The Day of the Triffids (Rank Org.) (Allied Artists) debuts, based on the 1951 John Wyndham novel about evil walking aparaguses from outer space, starring Howard Keel as merchant navy officer Bill Masen, who flees London after a meteor shower blinds everybody with school girl Susan (Janina Faye); Nicole Maurey plays Christine Durant; Janette Scott plays Karen Goodwin; the disappointing ending shows Triffids being dissolved by saltwater.
On Sept. 23, 1962 The Jetsons animated series debuts on ABC-TV for 24 episodes (until Mar. 17, 1963), becoming its first color program; George and Jane, Judy and Elroy, Astro the dog, and Rosie the robot maid in Orbit City in 2062; 40-y.-o. George works a typical 2-day 2-hour workweek for boss Cosmo Spacely, owner of Spacely Space Sprockets, whose competitor is H.G. Cogswell of Cogswell's Cosmic Cogs.
On Oct. 24, 1962 John Frankenheimer's B&W The Manchurian Candidate, written by Frankenheimer and George Axelrod based on the 1959 Richard Condon novel set in 1952 debuts, starring Frank Sinatra as Maj. Bennett "Ben" Marco, Laurence Harvey as Medal of Honor winner Raymond Shaw, Angela Lansbury as his Commie agent mother Mrs. Iselin, James Gregory as her Commie agent hubby U.S. Sen. John "Johnny" Iselin ("there are exactly 207, er, 104, er, 275 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the State Dept."), and Janet Leigh as Sinatra's babe Eugenie "Rosie" Rose (Eldorado 5-9970) in an eerie mix of the Korean War, the McCarthy years, brainwashing theory, and the JFK assassination, which hasn't occurred yet, pissing-off both leftist and rightist critics while pleasing conspiracy theorists; Khigh Dhiegh plays Commie pshrink Yen Lo, Henry Silva plays Korean double agent Chunjin, John McGiver plays Sen. Thomas Jordan, Leslie Parrish plays his daughter Jocie; establishes TV dir. Frankenheimer as a film dir.; the Queen of Diamonds sets off Raymond Shaw's assassin programming mode; "Raymond Shaw is the bravest, kindest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life"; "Raymond Shaw, hell, hell" (ending); refilmed in 2004.
In 1962 New York City-born Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) pub. A Wrinkle in Time, children's sci-fi classic about 14-y.-o. Meg Murry, with 10-y.-o. twin brothers Sandy and Dennys, 5-y.-o. supergenius brother Charles Wallace, a beautiful scientist mother, and mysterious scientist father, who went missing after working on the Tesseract.
In 1962 Chris Marker's La Jetee (Jetée) debuts, a 28 min. sci-fi flick starring Davos Hanich about a post-nuclear world where a prisoner is used in an experiment in time travel; inspires the 1995 film "12 Monkeys".
On June 4, 1963 Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor debuts, a parody of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", starring Jerry Lewis as nerdy chemistry prof. Julius Kelp of A.S. Univ., who transforms into woman-killing Dean Martin clone Buddy Love after drinking a love potion, and romances Stella Stevens; Lewis later admits, er, denies that he's parodying his former buddy Martin.
On Sept. 16, 1963 the B&W TV series The Outer Limits by Leslie A. Stevens III (1924-98) debuts on ABC-TV for 49 episodes (until Jan. 15, 1965), featuring episodes written by Harlan Jay Ellison (1934-) that are later used by James Cameron for his 1984 film "The Terminator"; on Oct. 14 David McCallum appears in episode #5 The Sixth Finger with pointy ears, which are later copied by Leonard Nimoy in "Star Trek"; the opening shows an oscilloscope screen with "Control Voice" Vic Perrin (1916-89) saying: "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission"; too bad, all the aliens are mean, sinister, and scary?
On Sept. 29, 1963 My Favorite Martian debuts on CBS-TV for 107 episodes (until Sept. 4, 1966), starring Ray Walston (1914-2001) as Uncle Martin the Martian, and Bill Bixby (1934-93) as human Tim O'Hara.
In Sept. 1963 Joseph V. Mascelli's B&W The Atomic Brain (Monstosity) debuts, starring Marjorie Eaton as rich old bag Mrs. March, who hires mad scientist Dr. Frank (Frank Gerstle) to transplant her brain into the body of one of three young immigrant women servants she selects.
On Nov. 23, 1963 (Sat.) (5:25 p.m.) (the day after the JFK assassination) the long-running campy sci-fi series Doctor Who (a Timelord from the planet Gallifrey who travels in a spaceship that looks like a London police call box on the outside and an Edwardian mansion on the inside) debuts on BBC-TV for 797 episodes (until Dec. 6, 1989) with An Unearthly Child, dir. by Indian-born Cambridge-educated Waris Hussein (1938-); the cool Doctor Who Theme is more interesting than the campy show?
In 1963 Herbert L. Strock's B&W The Crawling Hand debuts, starring Peter Breck as college student Steve Curan, who finds the hand of a dead astronaut on the beach and takes it home, allowing it to possess him and turn him into a killer strangler; watch trailer.
In 1963 Avignon, France-born Pierre Francois Marie Louis Boulle (1912-94) The Bridge Over the River Kwai pub. The Planet of the Apes (Monkey Planet); Darwinian evolution reverses in the future as apes become sapient and humans lose the power of speech; filmed in 1968 starring Charlton Heston.
In 1963 Russ Marker's The Yesterday Machine debuts, about a Nazi scientist who builds a time machine to go back and alter the outcome of WWII.
In 1963 after publishing "The Hustler" in 1959, San Francisco, Calif.-born Walter Stone Tevis (1928-84) pub. The Man Who Fell to Earth, a semi-autobio. novel about super-intelligent humanoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton, who comes to Ky. to build a spaceship to import the remaining 300 pop. of nuclear-war-ridden Anthea, and falls for Betty Jo while becoming an alcohol addict before being messed-up by the CIA and FBI; filmed in 1976 by Nicolas Roeg; "He made the lonely journey, leaving behind a broken world and a promise to rescue his fellow-beings from the devastation their wars had wrought." In 1980 he pub. Mockingbird, about multiple centenarian android NYU dean Spofforth, who hires Paul Bentley to decode the written titles in ancient silent films, but when he tries to teach Mary Lou to read, Spofforth sends him to prison.
On Jan. 29, 1964 Stanley Kubrick's B&W Dr. Strangelove, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Columbia Pictures) debuts, written by Lee Pfeiffer, Peter Sellers, Stanley Kubrick, and Terry Southern, based on the 1958 novel "Red Alert" by Peter George, and filmed in Shepperton Studios in England, about the nuclear end of the world, starring Peter Sellers as U.S. Pres. Merkin Muffley, British Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, and Muffley's advisor, the crypto-Nazi title char. (a caricature of Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Wernher von Braun, or Herman Kahn?), complete with pocket radioactivity calculator and a black glove borrowed from Kubrick; Sterling Hayden (coming out of retirement) plays crazed U.S. Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper, who worries about losing his vital juices and his "purity of essence"; George C. Scott plays gum-chewing war hawk U.S. Gen. Buck Turgidson (based on Curtis LeMay), who utters the soundbyte "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops"; the film debut of James Earl Jones (1931-) (coming with Scott from "Othello") as Lt. Lothar Zogg; Keenan Wynn plays Col. Bat Guano; after Sellers sprains his ankle in a cockpit mockup, retired rodeo prof. Slim Pickens (Louis Burton Lindley Jr.) (1919-83) (brother of Easy Pickens) is called in from the set of "One-Eyed Jacks" and plays Texas cowboy Maj. T.J. King Kong, the B-52 pilot who rides a phallic nuke from the bomb bay of a B-52 Stratofortress to hot dog glory in Russia; a final scene of a pie fight in the war room is cut; "A fellow can have a pretty good time in Vegas with all that stuff" (Kong); "Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!" (Dr. Strangelove); "The Hot-Line Suspense Comedy"; does $9.4M box office on a $1.8M budget.
On Mar. 8, 1964 Ubaldo Ragona's and Sidney Salkow's The Last Man on Earth, based on the 1954 Richard Matheson sci-fi horror novel "I Am Legend" debuts, starring Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan, who lives in a world of vampires created by a plague; refilmed in 1971 and 2007.
On June 17, 1964 Byron Haskin's Robinson Crusoe on Mars debuts, filmed at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, Calif., starring Paul Mantee as Cmdr. Christopher Draper, Victor Lundlin as Friday, Adam West as Col. Dan McCready, and Barney the Woolly Monkey as Mona.
On Sept. 18, 1964 the animated sci-fi Hanna-Barbera series Jonny Quest (based on the 007 flick "Dr. No") debuts on ABC-TV for 26 episodes until Mar. 11, 1965, when it goes into syndication until new episodes are produced in 1986.
On Sept. 22, 1964 the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) debuts on NBC-TV for 105 episodes (until Jan. 15, 1968), starring Robert Vaughan (1932-) and David McCallum (1933-) as super-cool secret agents Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin, who battle the evil forces of THRUSH (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).
On Oct. 7, 1964 Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe, based on the 1962 Eugene Burdick and John Harvey Wheeler novel about the U.S.-Soviet Doomsday scenario debuts, with Henry Fonda as a U.S. pres. resigned to nuking New York City to pay for mistakenly nuking Moscow after a computer glitch; Larry Hagman plays his translator Buck; Walter Maathau plays war hawk prof. Groeteschele; Ed Binns plays bomber leader Col. Jack Grady, who completes his mission despite all enemy tricks (he thinks); Frank Overton plays gen. Bogan, and Fritz Weaver plays Col. Cascio, who cracks under the pressure; Dan O'Herlihy plays Brig. Gen. Warren A. "Blackie" Black, who has a dream of a torreador before and after nuking his own country at the president's orders; too bad, "Dr. Strangelove", produced by the same studio was released first, numbing its shock value. On Apr. 9, 2000 a new B&W version of Fail Safe debuts on CBS-TV, with intro. by Walter Cronkite, starring Richard Dreyfuss as the U.S. pres., Noah Wyle as his translator, George Clooney as Col. Jack Grady, and Harvey Keitel as Brig. Gen. Warren A. "Blackie" Black.
On Oct. 29, 1964 Ib Melchior's The Time Travellers debuts, about a group of scientists incl. Dr. Erik von Steiner (Preston Foster), Dr. Steven Connors (Philip Carey), and Carol White (Merry Anders), who use a time-viewing screen to travel through time; inspires the 1966 TV series "The Time Tunnel"; remade in 1967 as "Journey to the Center of Time".
On Nov. 14, 1964 Nicholas Webster's Santa Claus Conquers the Martians debuts, about some Martians who see Santa Claus on TV and decide to kidnap him to help their children learn to have fun, but later decide to let Martian Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) be Santa, returning the real one to Earth; worst film ever made?
On Nov. 20, 1964 Nathan Juran's First Men in the Moon, based on the 1901 H.G. Wells novel debuts, starring Lionel Jeffries as Joseph Cavor, inventor of Cavorite, who uses it to propel a ship to the Moon carrying him, Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd), and er, Katherine "Kate" Callender (Martha Hyer), where they encounter Moon Cows, Selenites, and the Prime Lunar.
In 1964 New York City-born aviation expert Martin Caidin (1927-97) pub. Marooned (Space Travelers); a manned spacecraft is stranded in Earth orbit; filmed in 1969. In 1968 he pub. The God Machine; cybernetic technician Steve Rand discovers that top-secret Project 79 has created an AI that's trying to take over the world. In 1972 he pub. the bestseller Cyborg, followed by "Cyborg II: Operation Nuke" (1973), "Cyborg III: High Crystal" (1974), and "Cyborg IV" (1976); basis of the 1974 TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man".
On Mar. 3, 1965 Hugo Grimaldi's The Human Duplicators debuts, starring Richard Kiel as giant alien Dr. Kolos, who arrives on Earth and hypnotizes Prof. Vaughn Dornheimer (George Macready) to create android doppelgangers, but falls in love with his beautiful blind niece Lisa (Dolores Faith).
In July 1965 Bill Rebane's Monster a Go-Go debuts, about Am. astronaut Frank Douglas, who mysteriously disappears as his spacecraft is parachuting to Earth, and is replaced by a large radioactive Frankenstein-like monster, who is chased in vain; at the end a telegram is received stating that Douglas is alive and well after being rescued in the North Atlantic, and that they have been chasing an ET, ending with: "As if a switch had been turned, as if an eye had been blinked, as if some phantom force in the Universe had made a move eons beyond our comprehension, suddenly, there was no trail. There was no giant, no monster, no thing called Douglas to be followed. There was nothing in the tunnel but the puzzled men of courage, who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness. With the telegram, one cloud lifts, and another descends", causing the line "But there was no monster" to become a sci-fi fan in-joke.
On Sept. 15, 1965 the sci-fi series Lost in Space, a "Space Family Robinson" show debuts on CBS-TV for 83 episodes (until Mar. 6, 1968); the first season is shot in B&W, and starts out serious, after which it goes campy and wacky in color; it stars 6'3" Guy Williams (Armand Joseph Catalano) (1924-89) and June Lockhart (1925-) as the parents prof. John Robinson and Maureen Robinson, Charles William "Bill" Mumy Jr. (1954-) (pr. "MOO-me") and Angela Margaret Cartwright (1952-) as the children Will and Penny, Mark Goddard (1936-) and Marta Kristen (Birgit Annalisa Rusanen) (1945-) as the single hot wild cards, eligible bachelor Maj. Don West and nubile daughter Judy Robinson, and Jonathan Harris (Charasuchin) (1914-2002) as the bad guy Dr. Zachary Smith, who ends up stealing the show, which is set in the year 1997.
On Sept. 17, 1965 the semi-wacky Old Western spy show ("James Bond on horseback") The Wild Wild West debuts on CBS-TV for 104 episodes (until Apr. 4, 1969), starring handsome athletic playboy Robert Conrad (1930-) as Secret Service agent James West, and Polish-Am. Jewish actor Ross Martin (1920-81) as his partner Artemus Gordon, a master of easy-to-see-thru disguises and Shakespearean ham, who protect Pres. Ulysses S. Grant from Victorian mad scientists while traveling in their own luxury train "Wanderer".
On Sept. 22, 1965 Robert Gaffney's B&W Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster debuts, starring Robert Reilly as Col. Frank Saunders slash Frankenstein, who battles the alien monster Mull along with Martian Princess Marcuzan (Marilyn Hanold) and her asst. Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell), who abduct bikini-clad Earth women to repopulate Mars; becomes a cult film.
On Oct. 20, 1965 Bert I. Gordon's Village of the Giants debuts, starring Johnny Crawford as Horsey, Beau Bridges as Fred, and Tommy Kirk as Mike, teenies living in beach party town Hainesville, Calif. who pressure teen mad scientist Genius (Ron Howard) into giving them some of his Goo that turns ducks into giants, growing to 30 ft. tall and trying to take over the town; features performances by the Beau Brummels and Freddy Cannon, becoming a cult classic.
In 1965 Des Moines, Iowa-born gay writer Thomas Michael Disch (1940-2008) pub. his first novel The Genocides. In 1966 he pub. The Puppies of Terra (Mankind Under the Leash); he and Cassandra Knye pub. The House That Fear Built; also One Hundred and Two H-Bombs and Other Science Fiction Stories. In 1967 he pub. Echo Round His Bones. In 1968 Thom Demijohn AKA Thomas Michael Disch and John Thomas Sladek (1937-2000) pub. Black Alice; Blonde Alice is kidnapped in Baltimore and reappears in Norfolk as Black Alice, niece of Bessie McKay. In 1969 he pub. The Prisoner; also Alfred the Great under the alias Victor Hastings. In 1971 he pub. Fun with Your Head (Under Compulsion) (short stories); also White Fang Goes Dingo and Other Funny SF Stories. In 1972 he pub. 334, about 21st cent. New York City. In 1973 he pub. Getting into Death (short stories). In 1973 he pub. Clara Reeve under the alias Leonie Hargrave. In 1979 he pub. On Wings of Song. In 1980 he pub. Fundamental Disch (short stories). On Apr. 30, 1981 he pub. ABCDEFG HIJKLM NOPQRST UVWXYZ. In 1982 he pub. Orders of the Retina; also Burn This. In 1984 he pub. Here I Am, There You Are, Where Were We. In 1998 he pub. The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World.
In 1965 Euclid, Ohio-born Roger Joseph Zelazny (1937-95) pub. his first novel This Immortal (...And Call Me Conrad), Conrad Nomikos escorts a blue-skinned Vegan around what's left of Earth, and ends up protecting him from madass humans. In 1966 he pub. The Dream Master (He Who Shapes) (The Ides of Octember), about neuroparticipant therapist Charles Render. In 1967 he pub. Lord of Light; the Urath spaceship Star of India lands on a strange planet, and the occupants deal with the hostile indigenous races with their atman transfer technology that gives them godlike powers, instituting a Hindu caste system, causing rebel crewman Sam, the last Accelerationist to start a revolt against the gods; "His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god." (opening lines) In 1969 he pub. Isle of the Dead,/a>, named after the Arnold Boecklin paintings, about Francis Sandow, last surviving human born in the 20th cent., and Damnation Alley, about Hell Tanner, who is promised a pardon for driving through you know what from LA to Boston in a post-apocalyptic U.S.; filmed in 1977. In 1970 he pub. Nine Princes in Amber, first of the 10-part Chronicles of Amber (1970-91). In 1971 he pub. Jack of Shadows, about a world that is tidally locked, where science rules on the dayside and magic on the nightside. In 1976 he pub. Doorways in the Sand, about how Earth joins a galactic confederation by trading the Mona Lisa and the British Crown Jewels for the Star-Stone and the Rhennius Machine. In 1980 he pub. Changeling, about Mor the wizard taking on evil Det Morson; in 1981 he pub. the sequel Madwand. In 1981 he pub. The Changing Land, followed by Dilvish, the Damned (1982), about a mixed-race elf-human, who is turned into a statue by evil sorcerer Jelerak.
Speaking of tongue-in-cheek? On Jan. 12, 1966 the tongue-in-cheek series Batman, starring Adam West (1928-) (after Lyle Waggoner is passed over) as Batman the Caped Crusader, and Burt Ward (Bert John Gervis Jr.) (1945-) as Robin the Boy Wonder debuts on ABC-TV for 120 biweekly episodes (until Mar. 14, 1968) (weekly in the 3rd and last season); disgraced TV game show host Jack Barry plays a newsman in the debut episode; recurring villains incl. Cesar Julio Romero Jr. (1907-94) as the Joker, Oliver Burgess Meredith (1907-97) as the Penguin, Frank John Gorshin Jr. (1933-2005) as the Riddler, and Julie Newmar (Julia Chalene Newmeyer) (1933-) as the Catwoman; too bad, although popular, it's too expensive to make, and loses money, ending in cancellation; the Batusi dance becomes a craze - he said one billion, not one batman with a burt ward?
On Mar. 11, 1966 the first Nebula Awards honor writers of science fiction.
On Aug. 24, 1966 Richard O. Fleischer's Fantastic Voyage debuts, written by Harry Kleiner, about a medical crew incl. Stephen Boyd and Raquel Welch who are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a comatose diplomat to save him; remade in 2000.
To boldly crow where no Jim has crowed before? I'm a PC and I'm 8 years old? On Sept. 8, 1966 (Thur.) Star Trek: The Original Series, created by Tex.-born Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry (1921-91) debuts on NBC-TV for 79 episodes (until Apr. 4, 1969) with The Man Trap, starring Jeanne Bal (1928-96) as shape-shifting salt-sucking space siren Nancy Crater, unveiling a new technology-based Jesus-and-Muhammad-free futuristic leftist Jewish kingdom of heaven combined with a mostly white Wagon Train in Space show about the 23rd cent. voyages of the faster-than-light USS Enterprise NCC-1701, featuring Canadian Jewish actor William Shatner (1931-) (after Jack Lord demands to own part of the show and is declined) as straight womanizing swashbuckling Capt. James Tiberius Kirk (born in Riverside, Iowa), the Capt. Horatio Hornblower of Space, who is so good at his job that he's allowed to break the rules, incl. sex with blacks, browns, yellows, greens, blues, non-humans, anything they can sign an acting contract with; Jewish-Am. actor Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) plays his 2nd in command, pointy-eared half-human half-Vulcan half-Salmon super-smart Science officer Spock (blood type T-negative) (only mates once every 11 years) (likes to put his hand in the shape of the Hebrew letter shin because in real life he's Jewish); Ga.-born actor DeForest Kelly (1920-79) plays liquor-pouring Southern-drawling Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and Canadian actor James Doohan (1920-2005) plays Scottish engineer Scotty, who is the real brains of the ship, staying safely behind while the reckless captain and crew go beaming into danger and he takes the credit for superhuman repair work by inflating repair time estimates while swigging Scottish whiskey; on Sept. 15 episode #2 Charlie X stars Robert Hudson Walker Jr. (1940-), son of Robert Walker Sr. and Jennifer Jones as a space orphan raised by aliens who gets his first crush on a woman, Capt. Kirk's yeoman Janice Rand, played by Grace Lee Whitney (1930-), and can't grow up fast enough to avoid using his superhuman powers to destroy the ship until his alien parents intervene and take him back; in real life, Walker's mom Jennifer Jones cheated on his daddy then dumped him in 1945 for producer David O. Selznick, causing daddy to go nuts and become an alcoholic and have an early death in 1951, affecting him, while Whitney in real life was an orphan, and is cut from the show in the first season so that Kirk could have a guest babe each episode, causing her to spiral down also; episode #3 Where No Man Has Gone Before stars Gary Lockwood (1937-) as Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell, who develops super-ESP when the Enterprise is driven over the edge of the galaxy; episode #9 Dagger of the Mind (Nov. 3) is about the Neural Neutralyzer Device; episode #21 Patterns of Force (Feb. 16, 1968) is about brilliant Starfleet Academy historian John Gill, who violates the Prime Directive on the planet Ekos and allows a clone of Nazi Germany to be created, which dopes him up and uses him as a puppet Hitler; episode #28 The City on the Edge of Forever (Apr. 6, 1967), written by Harlan Ellison and featuring a working Historyscope called the Guardian of Forever plus yummy Joan Henrietta Collins (1933-) as Am. Depression Era social worker Edith Keeler wins a Hugo Award; episode #29 (last of season 1) Operation Annihilate! (Apr. 13, 1967) (filmed Feb. 15, 1967) is set on the campus-like grounds of TRW Inc. in Redondo Beach, Calif; episode #35 The Doomsday Machine (Oct. 20, 1967) about a planet-eating machine is written by Norman Robert Spinrad (1940-); Theodore Sturgeon (Edward Hamilton Waldo) (1918-85) writes the screenplays for "Shore Leave" (1966), and "Amok Time" (1967), in which he invents the Vulcan Pon Farr mating ritual, the Vulcan benediction "Live long and prosper", and the Vulcan hand symbol; he also creates the Prime Directive; the show creates a new social class of fans called Trekkies (Trekkers), coined by Arthur William Saha (1923-99), incl. TLW, who took to emulating a Spock haircut in 9th grade (1967); too bad, after some go overboard, they get a bad name as nerdy escapist losers without a life; it's really an attempt to prepare youth for the New Age Movement?
On Sept. 9, 1966 (Fri.) the non-campy Batman alternative The Green Hornet debuts on ABC-TV for 26 episodes (until July 14, 1967), featuring the cool Green Hornet Theme by Al Hirt, and starring Van Zandt Williams (1934-) as Britt Reid AKA the Green Hornet, and chopsockey star Bruce Lee (Lee Jun-fan) (1904-73) as his sidekick Kato.
On Sept. 9, 1966 (Fri.) Irwin Allen's The Time Tunnel debuts on ABC-TV for 30 episodes (until Apr. 7, 1967), starring teen idol James Darren (James William Ercolani) (1936-) as young physicist Dr. Tony Newman, who tests Project Tic-Toc on himself and gets lost in time, and is followed by Dr. Doug Phillips, played by Robert Colbert (1931-).
On Sept. 11, 1966 (9/11/66) (Sun.) the Sherwood Schwartz series It's About Time debuts on CBS-TV for 26 episodes (until Apr. 2, 1967), starring Frank Aletter (1926-2009) and Jack Mullaney (1929-82) as U.S. astronauts Mac and Hector, who break the speed of light and end up in the Stone Age, meeting cave woman Shad, played by Imogene Coca (1908-2001) and her hubby Gronk, played by Joe E. Ross (1914-82); despite being a flop, it has a cool It's About Time Theme Song.
On Sept. 16, 1966 Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, based on the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel debuts; Truffaut's first color and only English language film; stars Oskar Werner as Guy Montag, and Julie Christie as Clarisse in a paean to scops; Bee Duffell is the Book Lady; Werner gets mad at Truffaut during filming and shaves his head for the final scenes to rile him up.
On Nov. 24, 1966 Don Chaffey's One Million Years B.C., based on the 1940 Hal Roach flick debuts, starring John Richardson as Tumak, and impossibly-proportioned sex bomb Raquel Welch (Tejada) (1940-) as Loana, who likes to wear a fur bikini to show she has killer looks, and delivers only 1 line, "Me Loana, you Tumak", making her an instant star; "Discover a savage world whose only law was lust" - clever way to get around 666 by putting the million-year grandfather clause before the B.C. part?
In 1966 black gay sci-fi writer Samuel Ray "Chip" Delany Jr. (1942-) pub. Babel-17; an attempt to prove the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis that language strongly influences perception of reality and thought as the language Babel-17 is developed as a weapon during an interstellar war to make people into traitors, causing starship Capt. Rydra Wong to be selected to figure out they are infiltrating them. In 1967 he pub. The Einstein Intersection; the Lo Lobey colonize Earth after humanity leaves, and try to make sense of human existence. In 1968 he pub. Nova; a cyborg society uses Tarot cards to make major decisions? In 1976 he pub. Driftglass: Ten Tales of Speculative Fiction (short stories). In 1974 he pub. Dahlgren. In 1975 he pub. Dhalgren; the U.S. Midwest city of Bellona is cut off from the rest of the world by an unknown catastrophe; "To wound the autumnal city./ So howled out for the world to give him a name./ The in-dark answered with wind"; "A riddle that was never meant to be solved" (William Gibson). In 1976 he pub. Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia (Trouble on Triton); a sci-fi world modeled on East Village, N.Y.? In 1981 he pub. Distant Stars (short stories). In 1984 he pub. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. In 1988 he pub. his autobio. The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, describing how he married white Jewish lesbian poet Marilyn Hacker (1942-) in Lower East Side New York City in summer 1961, and they enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle and open interracial marriage until 1973.
In 1966 Berkeley, Calif.-born Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929-2018) (pr. luh-GWIN) (daughter of anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber), who settles in Portland, Ore. pub. her first novel Planet of Exile; also Rocannon's World (Hainish). In 1968 she pub. A Wizard of Earthsea; #1 in her popular Earthsea fantasy series (ends 1990); goatherd Ged rises to become a great wizard. In 1969 she pub. The Left Hand of Darkness; frozen planet Winter populated by hermaphrodites; Genly Ai - if you wanna have a Bowflex body, you gotta own a Bowflex, click it or ticket? In 1971 she pub. The Lathe of Heaven; title from mistranslated writings of Chuang Tzu; Portland draftsman George Orr in nightmare 2002 learns that his dreams turn into reality, and tries to improve the world, making it worse. In 1974 she pub. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia; a physicist tries to reconcile cultural conflicts when exploring a new planet. In 1988 she pub. Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight.
In 1966 Stamford, Conn.-born Harry Harrison (Henry Maxwell Dempsey) (1925-2012) pub. Make Room! Make Room!, about the overpopulated Earth in 1999; filmed in 1973 as "Soylent Green".
In 1966 New York City-born Norman Richard Spinrad (1940-) pub. his first novel The Solarians, about the war between humans and Duglaari (Doogs). In 1969 he pub. Bug Jack Barron, about Jack Barron, host of a TV phone-in-show with an audience of 100M, who fights billionaire Benedict Howards, dir. of the Foundation for Human Immortality, who is trying to get a govt. monopoly on freezing people; pisses-off a British MP, who criticizes the British Arts Council for funding it; "The saddest day of your life isn't when you decide to sell out. The saddest day of your life is when you decide to sell out and nobody wants to buy." In 1970 he pub. The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (short stories). In 1972 he pub. The Iron Dream, about an alternate universe where Adolf Hitler moves to the U.S. and becomes a sci-fi writer, author of the hit "Lord of the Swastika". On Aug. 1, 1978 he pub. Riding the Torch, about the Probability Engine and multiple universes. In 1979 he pub. A World Between, about planet Pacifica and its Pink and Blue War. In 1980 he pub. Songs from the Stars, about a post-apocalyptic agrarian society; also The Mind Game; Jack Weller, dir. of the children's TV show "Monkey Business" and his wife Anne get involved with the Transformationalist movement, founded by sci-fi writer John B. Steinhardt. In 1983 he pub. The Void Captain's Tale, about the Second Starfaring Age. In 1985 he pub. Child of Fortune, about Moussa, who joins some space hippies under the name Wendy for her wanderjahr. In 2003 he pub. The Druid King, about Caesar's war against Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix in 52 B.C.E.
On Jan. 10, 1967 Larry Cohen's sci-fi series The Invaders debuts for 43 episodes (until Mar. 26, 1968), produced by Quinn Martin and starring Roy Thinnes (1938-) as architect David Vincent; the aliens pose as humans and red-out and evaporate when they die; The Invaders Theme features the soundbyte: "The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun."
In Feb. 1967 Ian Curteis' B&W The Projected Man debuts, starring Bryant Haliday as scientist Dr. Paul Steiner, who builds a teleportation laser device, then teleports himself, becoming a monster.
On Sept. 29, 1967 The Prisoner debuts on BBC-TV for 17 episodes (until Feb. 1, 1968), starring cool red-haired blue-eyed Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009) as Number Six, who is kidnapped and put in the Village for "information" after he resigns, where he locks wits with a changing cast of Number Twos until he actually escapes, ending the series coolly; the cool Prisoner Theme and sci-fi unreality make it a hit, incl. Rover, a big mean bouncing white guard balloon-ball - did I mention it's cool?
In 1967 Oxford, England-born Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (1934-) (who emigrated to the U.S. at age 4) pub. his first novel Chthon, first in the Aton series. In 1969 he pub. Macroscope; the 21st cent. invention that analyzes info. carried on macrons, giving humanity unlimited info. about the Universe, endangering the very essence of people's minds; Hasan; the days of Sinbad. In 1971 he pub. Prostho Plus; Earth dentist Dr. Dillingham is captured by aliens and forced to work for them. In Sept. 1977 he pub. A Spell for Chameleon; first in his "Xanth" series. In 1980 he pub. Split Infinity; first in the Apprentice Adept series about the dual worlds of Proton and Phaze. In 1982 he pub. Ogre, Ogre. In 1986 he pub. Ghost. In 1993 he pub. Killobyte. He goes on to pub. a book for every letter in the alphabet.
In 1967 Kansas City, Mo.-born William Francis Nolan (1928-) and Cheyenne, Wyo.-born George Clayton Johnson (1929-) pub. Logan's Run; first of a trilogy (1977, 1980); filmed in 1976; "The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under 21 years of age. The population continued to climb - and with it the youth percentage. In the 1980s the figure was 79.7 percent. In the 1990s, 82.4 percent. In the year 2000 - critical mass"; by 2116 people are not allowed to live past the age of 21 (Lastday), and must report to a Sleepshop; those Runners who try to escape to Sanctuary are hunted down by the Deep Sleep Operatives (Sandmen) (incl. antihero Logan 3), who use the Gun and Omnite on them. In 1977 they pub. Logan's World. In 1980 they pub. Logan's Search.
In 1968 the Condon Report of the U. of Colo. UFO Project (founded 1966), commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and headed by physicist Edward Uhler Condon (1902-74) (U as in UFO?) concludes that UFOs don't exist after investigating 12K sightings and narrowing them down to 791 "unexplained" ones - the first thing to learn is that you're not crazy?
In 1968 after 17 years of publishing forgettable stuff, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England-born John Kilian Houston Brunner (1934-95) pub. Stand on Zanzibar, about the year 2010, which is predicted with eerie accuracy, incl. an EU, China as the #1 rival of the U.S., Africa a basket case, widespread terrorism and school shootings, Israel under siege, Detroit in ruins after the auto industry collapses, marijuana is decriminalized and tobacco sales are falliing, the institution of marriage is crumbling and people use drugs to enhance sexual performance; the pres. of the U.S. is named Obomi; the entire world's pop. of 7B could fit onto Zanzibar rather than the Isle of Wight, describing it as way too crowded compared to what it came out, which doesn't stop it from being a hit. In 1969 he pub. The Jagged Orbit, about the U.S. in racially polarized 2014, when the Gottschalk mafia that supplies weapons to both sides splits into two factions. In 1969 he also pub. Timescoop; Harold Freitas brings duplicates of his ancestors in a time machine with him to 2066, watching them squirm at the morality. In 1972 he pub. The Sheep Look Up, about a U.S. environmental disaster. In 1975 he pub. The Shockwave Rider, coining the computer network term "worm". In 1980 he pub. The Infinitive of Go, about Posting technology, which teleports inanimate objects. In 1983 he pub. The Crucible of Time, about an alien species trying to survive a cloud of interstellar debris. In 1988 he pub. Children of the Thunder, a swipe on the world of Margaret Thatcher. In 1993 he pub. his last novel Muddle Earth, about the 24th cent., when Earth becomes a tourist attraction.
On Apr. 2, 1968 Stanley Kubrick's classical music-heavy landmark A-list sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM), based on Arthur C. Clarke's story "The Sentinel" debuts, with a cool score by Romanian-born Austrian-Hungarian Jewish composer Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006), starring white dull-enough-but-kinky-inside Keir Dullea as a space Ulysses, with its depiction of space travel as commercialized and matter-of-fact (Pan Am Orion between Earth and Moon), and its depiction of the AI talking computer HAL (I-1 B-1 M-1), who throws a hissy fit over Jupiter, which just happens to be the home of the aliens who evolved us from apes, and gave us a test to qualify for the next evolutionary jump; #2 grossing film of 1968 ($56.7M U.S. and $138M worldwide on a $12M udget) #2 grossing film of 1968 ($56.7M U.S. and $138M worldwide on a $12M budget); the soundtrack features The Blue Danube, plus Ligeti's Atmospheres (1961), Lux Aeterna (1966) (moonbus scene), Requiem (Kyrie) (1963-5), and Aventures (1962); his 1967 piece Lontano is used in the 1980 film "The Shining" - the real thrill is the thought that white flight can look to space?
On Oct. 1, 1968 George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead debuts in dreary Pittsburgh, Penn., a horror movie that's so bad it's great, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea et al. as zombies brought back to life by radiation and/or not-yet-zombies holding out in a farmhouse; #6 grossing film of 1968 ($5.8M); spawns sequels "Dawn of the Dead" (1979), "Day of the Dead" (1985).
On Oct. 18, 1968 Roger Vadim's Barbarella debuts, set in the year 40,000, starring bodacious Jane Fonda as Barbarella, who is sent by Earth pres. Dianthus (Claude Dauphin_ to rescue Dr. Durand Durand (Miles O'Shea), inventor of the Positronic Ray from the planet Tau Ceti, taking on the Black Queen of Sogo, the Great Tyrant (Anita Pallenberg), who puts her in the Excessive Machine that tries to orgasms her to death; John Phillip Law plays Pygar the Angel; David Hemmings plays resistance leader Dildano; "Meet the most beautiful creature of the future. Her name is Barbarella, and she makes science fiction something else.... Barbarella is a 5-star double-rated astro-navigatrix Earth girl, whose specialty is love."
In 1968 Chicago, Ill.-born 6'7" John Michael Crichton (1942-2008) (star basketball player for Roslyn H.S. in Chicago in 1960) pub. his first novel A Case of Need under the alias Jeffrey Hudson. In 1969 he pub. The Andromeda Strain, the first novel under his own name; Dr. Jeremy Stone fights a deadly microorganism from outer space; good sales help him pay for Harvard Medical School; filmed in 1971; "This book recounts the five-day history of a major American scientific crisis" (opening line). In 1972 he pub. The Terminal Man. In 1980 he pub. Congo, about cerebral gorillas in the Lost City of Zinj; filmed in 1995. In 1987 he pub. Sphere, about a 300-y.-o. alien spacecraft on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean; filmed in 1998. In 1990 he pub. Jurassic Park, a bestseller about an amusement park filled with reconstituted dinosaurs; filmed in 1993; in 1995 he pub. the sequel The Lost World. In 1992 he pub. Rising Sun; why Americans distrust the Japanese. In 1999 he pub. Historyscope; great title?; a silly time travel plot, but a cool recreation of the 14th cent. C.E.; "Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything. You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree."
In 1968 Peter Bogdanovich's B&W Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, adapted from the 1962 film "Planeta Bur" by Pavel Klushantsev debuts, starring Mamie Van Dorean as Moana, leader of a troupe of sexy Venusian women who attack Earth astronauts and adopt their robot as a god.
In 1968 Bronx, N.Y.-born lesbian Joanna Russ (1937-2011) pub. her first novel Picnic on Paradise, about female sci-fi adventure heroine Alyx. In 1972 she pub. What Can a Heroine Do? Or Why Women Can't Write. In 1975 she pub. The Female Man, about four women in parallel worlds, which becomes an underground feminist sci-fi classic. In 1976 she pub. The Adventures of Alyx (short stories). In 1983 she pub. How to Suppress Women's Writing.
On Mar. 26, 1969 Jack Smight's The Illustrated Man debuts, based on the 1951 book by Ray Bradbury about a man whose tattoos each have a story, starring Rod Steiger as Carl and Claire Bloom as Felicia.
On Nov. 4, 1969 London, England-born David Bowie (David Robert Jones) (1947-) releases album #2 David Bowie: Man of Words, Man of Music (Space Oddity), his first hit, which incl. Space Oddity (July 11), about Major Tom, who takes a spacewalk and gets lost in space (the world of drugs?); used by the BBC during its Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 coverage. On May 12, 2013 Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (1959-) records a cover of it on the Internat. Space Station, altered so that Major Tom lands safely, becoming the first music video shot in space. Bowie then turns into Ziggy Stardust on June 6, 1972 with the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, featuring the hit single Starman.
Glory Days, Glory Days, Glory Days pass you by? Just in time to make JFK's prediction come true, white IS right on the Moon on the anniv. of the creation of Washington D.C., the execution of Tsar Nicholas II, the installation of the first parking meters, and the first A-bomb explosion? On July 16, 1969 (Wed.) Apollo 11 blasts off from Cape You Know What, and goes into lunar orbit on July 19, then lands on the "place of magnificent desolation" (the Moon) on July 20 at 4:17 p.m. EDT in the Eagle landing module; as 600M worldwide watch on TV (Soviet TV snubs them), white, blonde-blue, straight Christian church-going WASP male Neil Alden Armstrong (1930-) (shoe size 9-1/2) (salary $30K a year) becomes the first human to set foot on the Moon at 10:56 p.m. EDT at Tranquility Base (total price tag $35B); his first words are "One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind"; he rubs white-is-right in more by carrying a piece of fabric from the 1903 White, er, Wright brothers plane Flyer 1; U.S. Air Force Col. Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. (1930-) follows close behind, later uttering the soundbyte "Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the Moon, I am the first man to piss his pants on the Moon"; meanwhile U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael "Mike" Collins (1930-) stays in orbit at 60-75 mi. in the Columbia Command Module, with Mission Control uttering the immortal soundbyte "Not since Adam as any human known such solitude as Mike Collins during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution when he's behind the Moon with no one to talk to except his tape recorder"; after the onboard computer fails from interference caused by the radar system as they are making their landing, Armstrong and Aldrin switch to manual control and display their hotdogging cowboy skills, landing with less than 1 min. of fuel left; the first moon walk confirms the prediction made in 1964 by Dutch-born U. of Ariz. astronomer Gerard Peter Kuiper (1905-73) (who helped identify lunar landing sites) that it would be "like crunchy snow"; after Aldrin plants a nylon flag on El Moono, and they have their romp, they return to Earth and splashdown on July 24 in the Pacific, and are brought aboard the USS Hornet, then greeted personally by Pres. Nixon while on a round-the-world tour (July 23-Aug. 3) to try to get back some of the billions wasted, er, invested in a second industrial rev., er, wasted with some good Cold War propaganda; they then spend 65 hours inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility to prove they didn't acquire "Moon germs" under the July 16 U.S. Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law, violation of which carries a 1-year sentence and $5K fine; Walter Cronkite makes CBS-TV the most-watched TV network for the missions, which follows through to Apollo 13; Thomas Otten Paine (1921-92) is the head of NASA in 1969-7 (first seven Apollo manned missions), and goes on to become pres. of Northrop Corp. in 1976-82; The New York Times finally apologizes for a 1920 article publicly scoffing at Robert Goddard's idea that a rocket can function in a vacuum; David Threlfal of Preston, Lancashire, England is awarded a £10K check by bookmaker William Hill, Ltd. for a £10 bet in 1964 that a man would land on the Moon by 1971 at 1000 to 1 odds; millions believe the whole thing is a staged govt. hoax, pointing to the "rippling flag", absence of blast craters, shadows suggesting stage lighting, etc.; millions more that all that money was "dumped into space", or that it would have been better spent reclaiming the deserts, developing agriculture, affordable housing and medicine, or jump-jiving woo woo woo?; the dir. of the fake landing was Stanley Kubrick, who gets the truth past govt. censors in his 1980 film "The Shining?"; too bad, the astronauts leave radar corner reflectors, which can be seen from Earth, proving they were there?; on July 16, 2009 NASA admits that it lost its original hi-res moonwalk footage, but is hiring Hollyweird to restore it, stoking the hoaxers; the Apollo 11 astronauts appear on the first U.S. stamp to depict a living American, issued later in the year; "For one crowning moment we were creatures of the cosmic ocean" (Aldrin); "Slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God" (Ronald Reagan); Aldrin later suffers from depression - buzzy Excedrin headache number?
In 1969 Ottawa, Ont.-born poet-novelist Margaret Eleanor Atwood (1969-) pub. her first novel The Edible Woman, written in 1965; Marian McAlpin of Toronto has an affair with English grad student Duncan, gets engaged to her roommate Ainsley Tewce's Peter Wollander, and becomes unable to eat as she rejects the traditional female role, finally making an edible pink woman cake to get over him; makes Atwood a hit with lez, er, feminists. In 1985 she pub. The Handmaid's Tale; title inspired by Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"; dedicated to her Harvard U. mentor Perry Miller; about a right-wing monotheocracy in post-nuclear Boston, showing how subjugated women fight back. In 2003 she pub. Oryx and Crake; Snowman lives in a post-apocalyptic world populated by the primitive humanoid genetically-engineered race of Crakers; when fans call the novel science-fiction, she responds that it's "speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians", later adding "talking squids in outer space", pissing-off sci-fi fans. In 2009 she pub. The Year of the Flood; sequel to "Oryx and Crake" (2003), about God's Gardeners, survivors of the Waterless Flood caused by the evil corporations. In 2013 she pub. MaddAddam (Aug.); sequel to "The Year of the Flood" (2009).
In 1969 London, England-born Michael John Moorcock (1939-), ed. of New Worlds in 1964-71 and 1976-96 pub. Behold the Man, about Karl Glogauer, who travels back from 1970 to 28 C.E. to see Jesus, who turns out to be a dud, causing him to become Jesus, uttering the famous last words: "It's a lie, it's a lie, let me back down."
In 1969 Detroit, Mich.-born Jewish left activist feminist poet Marge Piercy (1936-) pub. her first novel Going Down Fast. In 1970 she pub. Dance the Eagle to Sleep. In 1976 she pub. Woman on the Edge of Time; 37-y.-o. Bellevue Hospital psychiatric ward patient Consuelo "Connie" Ramos time-travels to 2137 with Luciente to a world where women don't reproduce anymore, property doesn't exist, and the concept of gender is moot; the first cyberpunk novel? In 1978 she pub. The High Cost of Living; Leslie, Honor, and Bernie. In 1979 she pub. Vida; a 1960s underground activist sees the anti-war movement rise and fall. In 1982 she pub. Braided Lives; a female writer in Detroit struggles while her friends cop-out to traditional roles. On Mar. 12, 1985 she pub. Fly Away Home; Boston cookbook Daria Walker gets divorced and rebuilds her life. On Apr. 12, 1988 she pub. Gone to Soldiers; six women and four men during WWII. In 1989 she pub. Summer People. In 1991 she pub. Body of Glass (He, She and It); a future environmentally-ruined world with megacities and a futuristic Internet. In 1994 she pub. The Longings of Women. In 1996 she pub. City of Darkness, City of Light. In 1998 she and Ira Wood pub. Storm Tide.
On Sept. 16, 1970 the ITC Entertainment TV series UFO (pr. "you-foh"), debuts for 26 episodes (until July 24, 1971), set in 1980 when the Earth is attacked by aliens from outer space and defended by the Alien Defense Org. starring George Victor "Ed" Bishop (1932-2005) as Cmdr. Ed Straker, and Michael Billington (1941-2005) as Col. Paul Foster; the campy English series features shapely babes in skimpy tight silver suits and purple wigs; the Opening Theme features tank-tracked personnel carriers and 2-man space ships but shows them still using reel-to-reel tape computers.
In 1970 Birmingham, England-born Barrington J. Bayley (1937-2008) pub. his first novel Star Virus, followed by Annihilation Factor (1972), Empire of Two Worlds (1972), Collision Course (1973), The Fall of Chronopolis (1974), about the Chronostatic Empire's war with the Hegemony, The Soul of the Robot (1974), about soulful robot Jasperodus, The Garments of Caean (1976), about Peder Forbarth of the Ziode Cluster, who steals the legendary Frachonard suit, The Grand Wheel (1977), about Randomatics prof. Cheyne Scarne, who is selected to represent humanity in a card game with infinitely varying rules, Star Winds (1978), about humans who travel through space using solar sails, The Pillars of Eternity (1982), about space pilot Joachim Boaz, The Zen Gun (1983), The Forest of Peldain (1985), The Rod of Light (1985), sequel to "The Soul of the Robot" (1974), Eye of Terror (1999), The Sinners of Erspia (2005), and The Great Hydration (2005).
In 1970 after giving up on it in 1966 then trying it again, Irish writer Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-89) pub. The Lost Ones, about a 50m x 16m flattened cylinder world and its pathetic inhabitants.
In 1970 Los Angeles, Calif.-born Laurence van Cott "Larry" Niven (1938-) pub. Ringworld, set in 2850, first in a super-popular hard sci-fi series; 200-y.-o. boosterspice-taking Louis Gridley Wu bar-hops the world westward to celebrate his birthday, then travels to Known Space, where he meets Pierson's Puppeteer Nessus (3 legs, 2 heads, 0 arms), and joins him, Kzin, and Teela Brown on a mission to Ringworld in order to win the superfast ship Long Shot. In 1974 he and Shreveport, La.-born Jerry Eugene Pournelle (1933-) pub. The Mote in God's Eye; the Second Empire of Man in 3016 enjoys the faster-than-light Alderson Drive to discover the Moties, who have a little ole 1M-y.-o. problem. In 1976 they pub. Inferno. On June 30, 1978 they pub. Lucifer's Hammer; a giant comet hits Earth, causing a new Ice Age. In 1980 Niven pub. The Ringworld Engineers; sequel to "Ringworld" (1970); written to explain why it's not unstable. In 1982 they pub. Oath of Fealty, about the huge Todos Santos complex in Los Angeles; popularizes the phrase "think of it as evolution in action". In 1985 they pub. the bestseller Footfall; "Probably the first novel of alien invasion ever written", about the invasion of the Fithp, man-sized quadrupedal elephant aliens with multiple trunks from Alpha Centauri who come in on a Bussard Ramjet.
On Mar. 12, 1971 Robert Wise's The Andromeda Strain debuts, based on the 1969 Michael Crichton novel about an alien germ that kills humans and is taken for study to the Wildfire Complex in N.M., where the plan to nuke it has to be stopped because it feeds on nuclear energy; stars Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt, Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone, David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton, and James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall.
On Mar. 11, 1971 George Lucas' THX 1138 debuts (Lucas' feature film debut), starring Robert Duvall as the title char., who lives in an underground city in the 25th cent. sans sex and worships OMM 0910 in Unichapels, then discovers love with his computer-matched roommate LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie) and tries to escape; the first film from Lucas' buddy Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope studio.
On Aug. 1, 1971 Boris Sagal's The Omega Man, based on the 1954 Richard Matheson novel "I Am Legend" debuts, starring Charlton Heston as Army Col. Robert Neville, the last survivor of the Mar. 1975 biological war between China and the Soviet Union that turns everybody else in LA into crazed nocturnal albino mutants.+
On Dec. 19, 1971 Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, based on the 1962 Anthony Burgess novel debuts, starring Malcolm MacDowell as Alex DeLarge, leader of a punk gang of droogs in future (1995?) Britain who speak Nadsat (a mix of English and Russian), hang out in the Korova Moloko (Milk) Bar (filled with erotic sculptures by Allen Jones), and invade the home of writer Frank Alexander (incredibly face-overacting Patrick Magee) and rape his wife Adrienne Corri while performing "Singin' in the Rain"; after receiving the Ludovico brainwashing treatment from the govt. and dreaming of shagging a woman in the snow, Alex (who lies to wear false eyelashes in his right eye) gets his mind right and goes normal, but it backfires when he stumbles back into Mr. Alexander's home and is tortured with Beethoven's Ninth then tries to commit suicide, after which the publicity brings the govt. down and causes them to unbrainwash him and give him a job; #7 grossing film of 1972 ($26.5M); "I believe that drugs are basically of more use to the audience than to the artist." (Kubrick)
On Mar. 10, 1972 Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running debuts, a sci-film starring Bruce Dern as the keeper of the space greenhouse Valley Forge, who is told to nuke it and decides to save it, with help from service drones Huey, Dewey, and Louie; features the Joan Baez songs Rejoice in the Sun and Silent Running.
On Mar. 15, 1972 George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse-Five debuts, based on the 1969 Kurt Vonnegut novel, starring Michael Sacks as Billy Pilgrim, Ron Leibman as Paul Lazzaro, and Valerie Perrine as Montana Wildhack.
In 1972 Herbert J. Leder's The Doomsday Machine (Escape from Planet Earth) debuts, about a U.S.-Soviet space flight to Venus to repop. the Earth after it is destroyed by a Chinese you know what; originally filmed in 1967, it is completed in a sloppy fashion, making it a favorite of bad movie buffs.
On Mar. 20, 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, based on the 1961 novel by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006) debuts, about Earthlings probing the oceanic planet Solaris while its sentient beings probe their minds. In 1964 Lem pub. The Invincible, in which a spaceship lands on a distant planet and finds a mechanical micro-robot (nanobot) life form, the product of millions of years of "necroevolution", complete with artificial swarm intelligence.
On Sept. 13, 1972 Leslie Stevens' sci-fi series Search (Control) (originally titled "Probe") debuts on NBC-TV for 23 episodes (until Aug. 29, 1973), about the World Securities Corp. private investigation firm that uses field operatives equipped with hi-techn scanners attached to their jewelry for surveillance, starring Hugh O'Brian (Hugh Charles Krampe) (1925-) as Hugh Lockwood, Probe One, Anthony "Tony" Franciosa (Anthony George Papaleo) (1928-2006) as Nick Bianco, head of Omega Div., Douglas Osborne "Doug" McClure (1935-95) as C.R. Grover, Standby Probe, and Oliver Burgess Meredith (1907-97) as V.C.R. Cameron, dir. of Probe Control Unit 1 - sounds vaguely like porno?
In 1972 Soviet brothers Arkady Natanovich Strugatsky (1925-91) and Boris Natanovich Strugatsky (1933-2012) pub. Roadside Picnic, about how humans react to some Visitors who came, picnicked, and left; censored by the Soviets until it is pub. in English in 1977, becoming a big hit. In 1978 their 1962-7 novel Noon: 22nd Century is pub. in English.
On Apr. 19, 1973 Richard O. Fleischer's Soylent Green (MGM) debuts, based on the 1966 Harry Harrison novel "Make Room! Make Room!", starring Charlton Heston as New York City Det. Robert Thorn in the overpopulated polluted global warmed year 2022 featuring tasteful classical music euthanasia; Edward G. Robinson's 101st and last film as lettuce-chomping old fart Soylent, er, Sol Roth ("Why, in my day you could buy meat anywhere"); Leigh Taylor-Young plays house ho Shirl, and Chuck Connors plays bodyguard Tab Fielding; the movie takes 95 min. to reach the climactic future bad movie cliche soundbyte "Soylent Green is people!" - so bad it's good?
On Sept. 8, 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series debuts on NBC-TV for 22 episodes (until Oct. 12, 1974), featuring the voices of the original cast of Star Trek: TOS, giving Trekkies a new fix.
On Nov. 21, 1973 Michael Crichton's Westworld (MGM), written by Crichton debuts, about the Delos adult amusement park, which costs guests $1K/day to play with the robots, until something goes wrong, and the Gunslinger (Yul Brynner) becomes a Terminator; does $10M box office on a $1.25M budget; "Have we got a vacation for you!" On July 28, 1976 Richard T. Heffron's sequel Futureworld debuts, starring Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner as reporters Chuck Browning and Tracy Ballard, who are invited to tour the new improved Delos robot amusement park, and discover that they're cloning replacements for the visitors; the first feature film to use 3-D computer-generated imagery (CGI); in 1979 it becomes the first modern U.S. film to be screened in Red China.
On Dec. 17, 1973 Woody Allen's Sleeper debuts, starring Woody Allen as Happy Carrot health food store owner Miles Monroe, who is hospitalized in St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan for an ulcer and ends up in liquid nitrogen tanks; after being revived in 2173, and finding that "Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear device", he ends up living on the run from the govt. with Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton), trying to stop the Hitler-like leader's nose from being used to clone him; robots are programmed to be Jewish tailors and gay butlers; Ph.D's are given in oral sex; the McDonald's sign has 51 zeroes (795 sexdecillion); brings in $18M on a $2M budget; features the 1963 3-story 7K-sq.-ft. 5-bedroom 5-bathroom curvilinear clamshell Sleeper (Sculptured) House perched above I-70 in Genesee, Colo., housing the 5-level tubular elevator called the orgasmatron, designed by N.M.-born architect Charles U. Deaton (1921-96) (designer of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.), which is purchased by Denver Johnson-Grace software entrepreneur John Huggins for $1.33M in 1999, which he puts on the market for $10M after adding 5K more sq. ft., and sells for $3.43M in 2006.
In 1973 the Saturn Award (Golden Scroll) is established by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
On Jan. 18, 1974 The Six Million Dollar Man, based on the 1972 novel "Cyborg" by Martin Caidin debuts on ABC-TV for 99 episodes (until Mar. 6, 1978), starring Lee Majors (Harvey Lee Yeary) (1939-) as astronaut Steve Austin, whose Northrop HL-10 crashes, after which his body is rebuilt, with his right arm, left eye, and both legs replaced by bionic implants that make him into a superman.
In Apr. 1974 John Carpenter's Dark Star, "the Spaced-Out Odyssey", co-written by Dan O'Bannon debuts, a sci-fi comedy set in the mid-22nd cent., about the crew of the scout ship Dark Star, which has been in space for 20 years destroying "unstable planets", is hit by an asteroid storm, and tries to talk Bomb #20 into disarming itself before blowing up the ship.
On July 30, 1974 Michael Benveniste's and Howard Ziehm's X-rated Flesh Gordon, based on the Alex Raymond comic debuts, starring Jason Williams as Flesh, Suzanne Fields as Dale Ardor, Joseph Hudgins as Dr. Flexi Jerkoff, and William Dennis Hunt as Emperor Wang the Perverted, who attacks Earth with a Sex Ray from his home world of Porno Mongo; Craig T. Nelson voices the Great God Porno; "Must be some kind of Penisaurus" (Dr. J.).
In 1974 Oklahoma City, Okla.-born Joe William Haldeman (1943-) pub. his first novel The Forever War, about an interstellar war between humans and the Taurans, followed by Forever Peace (1997), Forever Free (1999), and A Separate War (1999). In 1990 he pub. the novella The Hemingway Hoax, about Hemingway scholar John Baird discovering Hemingway's long-lost 1921 ms. and getting into a time travel adventure.
On Feb. 12, 1975 Bryan Forbes' The Stepford Wives, based on the 1972 Ira Levin novel debuts, about women being replaced by robots to make ideal wives stars Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Peter Masterson.
On Sept. 4, 1975 ITC Entertainment's Space: 1999 (most expensive British TV production to date) debuts for 48 episodes (until Nov. 5, 1977), starring married actors Martin Landau (1928-) and Barbara Bain (1931-) of "Mission: Impossible" fame as Cmdr. John Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell, about a nuclear explosion on the dark side of the Moon on Sept. 13, 1999 that sends it hurtling into space along with Moonbase Alpha and all 311 inhabitants.
On Oct. 24, 1975 Bill Rebane's The Giant Spider Invasion debuts, featuring a VW covered with fur sprouting fake legs and driven backwards; stars Alan Hale Jr., Barbara Hale, Leslie Parish, Steve Brodie, Christiane Schmidtmer, and Robert Easton in a surprise box office hit.
On Nov. 24, 1975 L.Q. Jones' A Boy and His Dog, based on the 1969 Harlan Ellison story debuts, about Vic (Don Johnson) and his well-read misanthropic telepathic dog Blood in a post-apocalyptic world.
On Jan. 14, 1976 The Bionic Woman, a spinoff of "The Six Million Dollar Man" debuts on ABC-TV (switching to NBC-TV in 1977) for 58 episodes (until May 13, 1978), starring Lindsay Jean Wagner (1949-) as Jaime Sommers, with a bionic right ear, right arm, and legs.
On June 23, 1976 Michael Anderson's Logan's Run debuts, based on the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson; stars 34-y.-o. Michael York as Logan 5, a 26-y.-o. Sandman whose job is to hunt down anybody not reporting for carrousel (euthanasia sold as renewal) at age 30 in their hedonistic utopian (all-white?) sealed domed city in the year 2272, where sex and face changes are free; given a M:I to track down their fabled Sanctuary, Logan 5 is turned into a Runner (complete with flashing red life clock in his left palm), and runs with babe Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter) while being chased by Sandman Francis (Richard Jordan), finding that the exit to Sanctuary on the Outside is guarded by wheeled cyborg Box (Roscoe Lee Brown); Sanctuary turns out to be the remains of Washington, D.C., where they meet their first old man Peter Ustinov; the first major motion picture to feature real holograms; also features Farrah Fawcett; has a nude orgy scene.
On Mar. 18, 1976 Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth (British Lion Films) debuts, produced by Michael Deeley and Barry Spikings and written by Paul Mayersberg based on the 1963 Walter Tevis novel, starring David Bowie as humanoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton, who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet, and meets Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), who falls for him; Rip Torn plays friendly human Nathan Bryce; becomes a cult classic; Bowie is so good he gets typecast?; watch trailer.
On Dec. 17, 1976 John Guillermin's King Kong (a Dino De Laurentiis production) debuts, starring Jeff Bridges as Jack Prescott, and Charles Grodin as Fred S. Wilson; the film debut of Jessica Lange as Dwan; #6 grossing film of 1976 ($52.6M U.S., $90M worldwide on a $24M budget).
In 1976 Pasadena, Calif.-born UCLA-educated feminist Octavia Estelle Butler (1947-2006) pub. her first novel Patternmaster. In 1987-2000 she pub. the Xenogenesis (Lilith's Brood) Trilogy, about the Oankali, who have three sexes, male, female, and ooloi. She goes on to become the first black woman to gain nat. prominence as a sci-fi writer and receive the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant (1995).
On Jan. 15, 1977 the Coneheads debut on Saturday Night Live, starring Dan Aykroyd as father Beldar, Jane Curtin as mother Prymaat, and Laraine Newman as daughter Connie, all from the planet Remulak, who are stranded on Earth; "Consume mass quanties"; "I summon you"; "Maintain low tones"; "Meeps! Mepps!" On July 23, 1993 Steve Barron's Coneheads debuts, featuring the SNL cast; too bad, it only does $21.3M box office on a $33M budget.
Can a new Ruling Fairy Tale save the world, why not try it? On May 25, 1977 the blockbuster film Star Wars (Episode 4 of 6: A New Hope) (20th Cent. Fox) (filmed at Elstree Studios in England) (with 60 SFX shots) by dir.-writer George "the Maker" Lucas (1944-) debuts; ticket price is $2.25; "May the Force be with you" joins the lexicon; the Western world gets a new uber-myth called the Force, which neatly bypasses the Bible and other organized religions without directly dissing them and even paying homage to their common grounding in ancient myths, while enshrining Science and Technology firmly above all possible Inquisitions; morphs sci-fi into the comic book realm, with dime-store philosophy added for emphasis to create a near-religious consumer cult (if only they can find a power source for all those gizmos and ships?); Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca the Wookie, the Millennium Falcon ("make it look like a hamburger" - Lucas), Darth Vader, Storm Troopers; Carrie Fisher gets the part of Princess Leia after first choice Jodie Fisher can't get out of her Disney contract; Sir Alec Guinness plays Obi-Wan Kenobe, and talks Lucas into killing him off because he hates the psychobabble lines, but makes a mint, allowing him to pick and choose roles; James Earl Jones makes $7K for his voiceover role as Darth Vader after Orson Welles is turned down for having a voice that is too recognizable; Lucas has to beg 20th Cent. Fox for more money for special effects, but he scores big by retaining ownership of the 6-film series and merchandising; #1 grossing film of 1977, with $460.9M at the domestic box office and $775.4M worldwide on an $11M budget; spawns 250M action figures made through 1985; $4.5B of Star Wars merchandise is eventually sold (about what the U.S. spends each year on its real Star Wars program by the 21st cent.); "The Force is what gives the Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together"; "Do or do not, there is no try" first of the 6-film Star Wars Series; Lucas later utters the soundbyte; "How do democracies get turned into dictatorships? The democracies aren't overthrown; they're given away... Star Wars was really about the Vietnam War."
On Sept. 16, 1977 (Fri.) the sci-fi series Logan's Run, a spinoff of the 1977 film debuts on CBS-TV for 13 episodes (until Jan. 16, 1978), starring Gregory Harrison (1950-) as Logan 5.
On Oct. 14, 1977 Ed Hunt's Starship Invasions (Project Genocide) (War of the Aliens) debuts, starring Robert Vaughn as UFO expert Prof. Allan Duncan, who helps the bald telepathic League of Races save Earth from the Legion of the Winged Serpent led by Capt. Rameses (Christopher Lee); made on a $1M budget by Hal Roach Studios, just in time to throw it away to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
On Nov. 16, 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind debuts, a quantum leap in sci-fi, starring Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary, Teri Garr as his wife, Melinda Dillon as a fellow believer, and French-speaking dir. Francois Truffaut as the govt. scientist investigating visiting ETs, who talk in lights and music; makes Devil's Tower Nat. Monument famous; #2 grossing film of 1977 ($128.2M); first in a string of blockbusters by Steven Allan Spielberg (1946-). Now aliens are intelligent, friendly, and just wanting to communicate and make friends.
On Dec. 9, 1977 William Sachs' The Incredible Melting Man debuts, starring Alex Rebar as astronaut Steve West, who is exposed to intense radiation on a space flight to Saturn, causing him to become a cannibal monster; good makeup, bad film?; "He seems to be getting stronger as he melts."
In spring 1977 the quarterly Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine debuts (until ?); it changes to bimonthly in 1978, and monthly in 1979; in 1992 it becomes "Asimov's Science Fiction".
In 1977 Austin, Tex.-born Michael Bruce Sterling (1954-) ("Chmn. Bruce") (AKA Vincent Omniveritas) pub. his first novel Involution Ocean; Moby Dick in space? In 1985 he pub. Schismatrix, about the Shaper/Mechanist universe. In 1986 he pub. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, which helps define the cyberpunk genre. In 1988 he pub. Islands in the Net, set in Internet-capable 2023-25, where Col. Jonathan Gresham's "The Lawrence Doctrine and Postindustrial Insurgency" is banned, and people are tired of the U.S. and Soviet dominating the world, with the soundbyte "Let us cut out the middleman." In 1990 he and William Gibson (1948-) pub. The Difference Engine, about an alternate Victorian Britain in which Charles Babbage succeeded in building a mechanical computer.
On Mar. 1, 1978 Michael Rae's Laserblast debuts, starring Kim Milford as Billy Duncan, who discovers an alien laser cannin in the desert, which he uses to become a big man, only to discover that it changes him into an alien.
On May 12, 1978 Don Dohler's The Alien Factor debuts, about insectoid aliens attacking a town while the mayor tries to cover it up so a new amusement park can be financed; Dohler's dir. debut.
On Sept. 14, 1978 MMork & Mindy, starring funny man Robin McLaurin Williams (1951-2014) and sugar britches Pam Dawber (1951-2014) debuts on CBS-TV for 95 episodes (until May 27, 1982); "Nanu nanu", "Shazbot", "Kay-o".
On Sept. 17, 1978 Battlestar Galactica, created by Glen Albert Larson (1937-2014) debuts on ABC-TV for 21 episodes (until Apr. 23, 1979), about a "ragtag group of ships" of the Colonial forces, 12 human colonies who are trying to find the lost 13th colony of Earth while battling the evil robotic Cylons in Yahren 7341; it stars Lorne Greene (1915-87) as Cmdr. Adama, Dirk Benedict (Niewoehner) (1945-) as Lt. Starbuck, Richard Hatch (1945-2017) as Capt. Apollo, John Colicos (1928-2000) as traitor Baltar, and "Lost in Space" star Jonathan Harris (Charasuchin) (1914-2002) as Cylon boss Lucifer; "There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans, that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive—somewhere beyond the heavens!" (Patrick Macnee); too bad, since Larson is a Mormon he starts it out as a Mormon parable, but ends up getting sued by George Lucas for infringing on his Star Wars franchise, causing them to countersue - them star fighter ships look awfully similar?
On Dec. 10, 1978 Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring "Love of Life" TV soap opera actor (1974-6) Christopher D'Olier Reeve (1952-2004) (who was insured for a record $20M) as the S-Man Clark Kent (who bases his personality on the early Cary Grant), and Margot Kidder (1948-) as his girlfriend Lois Lane; Gene Hackman plays Lex Luthor, and Marlon Brando plays Superman's father Jor-El; #3 grossing film of 1978 ($134.2M); sequels incl. "Superman II" (1980), "Superman III" (1983), "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987), and "Superman Returns" (2006); watch trailer; view clip.
On May 25, 1979 Ridley Scott's Alien (20th Cent. Fox, London) debuts, a quantum leap in sci-fi and horror flicks, starring manly woman Sigourney (Susan Alexander) Weaver (1949-) (who named herself after Sigourney Howard in "The Great Gatsby") as space hero Ripley, taking on the ultimate ET cockroach infestation on the mining ship Nostromo; the scene of the baby alien popping out of John Hurt's chest in the mess hall is a keeper, and the flick is a big hit, spawning three sequels, "Aliens" (1986), "Alien 3" (1992), and "Alien: Resurrection" (1997); "In space no one can hear you scream"; #8 grossing film of 1979 (104.9M U.S. and $203.6M worldwide box office on an $11M budget). On July 18, 1986 James Cameron's Aliens (Brandywine Productions) (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a sequel to the 1979 hit "Alien" set 57 years later; stars Sigourney Weaver as manly woman Ellen Ripley, who leads a hunter-killer mission to planet LV-426, where they find lone human survivor Rebecca "Newt" Jorden (Carrie Henn), and are then wiped-out by the mean aliens; Michael Biehn plays Cpl. Dwayne Hicks after James Remar leaves during filming; Lance Henriksen plays the android Bishop; Paul Reiser plays company man Carter Burke, who tries to sabotage the mission so he can bring a live specimen back, the dope?; Jenette Goldstein plays manly woman Pvt. Vasquez.
On June 26, 1979 Lewis Gilbert's Moonraker, the 11th James Bond flick debuts, starring Roger Moore as 007, Michael Lonsdale as the bad guy, Richard Kiel as Jaws, and Lois Chiles as the Bond girl; too bad, it seems to lose its credibility in a mire of campy space Amazons?; "Outer space now belongs to 007"; #9 grossing film of 1979 ($62.7M in the U.S., $210.3M worldwide on a $34M budget).
On Aug. 31, 1979 Nicholas Meyer's Time After Time (Meyer's dir. debut) debuts, based on the 1895 H.G. Wells novel "The Time Machine" set in San Francisco during the week of Nov. 5, 1979 stars Malcolm McDowell as Wells, David Warner as serial murderer surgeon John Leslie Stevenson, and Mary Steenburgen as Wells' liberated babe Amy Robbins; "90 years ago I was a freak. Now I'm an amateur." (Warner).
In Aug. 1979 Robert S. Fiveson's Parts: The Clonus Horror debuts, about wealthy powerful people incl. pres.-elect Jeffrey Knight (Peter Graves) breeding clones for replacement organs in a remote desert area; "The only thing they don't use... is the scream."
On Sept. 20, 1979 (Thur.) after a 90-min. pilot is released on Mar. 30 (Fri.), Glen A. Larson's and Leslie Stevens' wannabe Battlestar Galactica sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century debuts on NBC-TV for 37 episodes (until Apr. 16, 1981), based on the 1928 Philip Francis Nowlan comic strip, starring Gilbert C. "Gil" Gerard (1943-) as NASA/USAF pilot Capt. William "Buck" Rogers, who takes off in his Ranger 3 spacecraft in May 1987 and is accidentally frozen for 504 years before thawing out in 2491, learning about a nuclear Armageddon on Nov. 22, 1987 from the Earth Defense Directorate, who recruit him for covert missions to save Earth.
On Dec. 7, 1979 Robert Wise's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, based on the Gene Roddenberry TV series debuts about 10 years too late, but fills the need for Trekkies, with the original cast and a $46M production budget; #2 grossing film of 1979 ($82.2M in the U.S., $139M worldwide).
On Dec. 21, 1979 Gary Nelson's The Black Hole debuts, Disney's most expensive film to date at $20M plus $6M for advertising, a silly sci-fi flick starring Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine; the opening credits sequence features the longest computer graphics shot in a film to date, and the film features the world's first digitally recorded soundtrack; the first Disney film to incl. profanity and to be rated PG, causing them to create the Touchstone Pictures label in 1984.
In 1979 Ronald Neame's Meteor, (Am. Internat. Pictures) debuts, written by Edmund H. North and Stanley Mann based on the 1967 MIT report Project Icarus, starring Sean Connery as Dr. Paul Bradley, designer of the U.S. Hercules orbiting nuclear missile platform, which Soviet Dr. Alexei Dubov (Brian Keith) and his interpreter Tatiana Donskaya (Natalie Wood) help task in a mission to intercept a 5-mi. chunk of asteroid Orpheus; Henry Fonda plays the U.S. pres.; Richard Dysart plays the U.S. secy. of defense, and Martin Landau plays Gen. Adlon; does $8.4M box office on a $16M budget.
In 1979 Alfonso Brescia's Star Odyssey (Space Odyssey) (Metallica) (Captive Planet) debuts, about 2312 Earth, which is renamed Sol 3 and sold to evil despot Kress for slaves, causing Prof. Maury and his ragtag band of rebels to fight back; #3 in a trilogy of low-budget Italian "Star Wars" knockoffs; Brescia uses the alias Al Bradley.
In 1979 Cambridge-born Douglas Adams (1952-2001) pub. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; vol. #1 of 5 of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"; "Don't Panic!"; the answer to everything is 23; sells 14M copies. On Jan. 5, 1981 the BBC TV series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy debuts for 8 episodes (until Feb. 9, 1981), starring Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, David Dixon as Ford Perfect, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Sandra Dickinson as Trillion; Peter Jones voices the guide. On Apr. 28, 2005 Garth Jennings' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Touchstone Pictures), based on the 1979 book by Douglas Adams debuts, starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, Sam Rockwell as Pres. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Mos Def as Ford Prefect, Zooey Deschanel as Tricia McMillan/Trillian, and the voices of Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman; does $104.5M on a $50M budget.
In 1979 San Diego, Calif.-born Gregory Dale "Greg" Bear (1951-) pub. his first novel Hegira, about the Big Collapse at the end of time, in which humans are transported to the planet Hegira, which is filled with giant obelisks inscribed with the knowledge of humanity for them to read. In 1985 he pub. Blood Music, about biotechnologist Vergil Ulam, who smuggles noocytes out of his co. in his bloodstream, which achieve intelligence and take over his body, then assimilate the pop. of North Am.; the first sci-fi novel about nanotechnology? In 1985 he also pub. Eon, set in 2005, when the Potato/Stone appears in near Earth orbit, causing a race by the Soviet Union and U.S. to claim it; it is followed by Eternity (1998), Legacy (1995), and The Way of All Ghosts (1999). In 1987 he pub. The Forge of God, about the alien Killers conquering the Earth, followed by Anvil of Stars (1992), where the remnant left on Mars go after the Killers. In 1990 he pub. Queen of Angels, set in the year 2048, when nanotechnology rules peoples' minds. In 1993 he pub. Moving Mars, about Casseia Majumdar and a split on Mars between Earth and Mars factions. In 1998 he pub. Dinosaur Summer, about a plateau in Venezuela where dinos live. In 1999 he pub. Darwin's Radio, about the retrovirus SHEVA, which evolves the next generation in the womb, creating new human species; it is followed by Darwin's Children (2003). In 2002 he pub. Vitals, about scientist Hal Cousins, who seeks immortality. In 2005 he pub. Quantico, about FBI agents trying to prevent a bioterrorist attack, followed by Marisposa (2009). In Aug. 2008 he pub. City at the End of Time, about the city of Kalpa in 300T C.E., which is fighting the Typhon, and sends psychic messages to three drifters in modern-day Seattle, Wash. On Nov. 22, 2010 he pub. Hull Zero Three, about a lost spaceship. In 2010 he also pub. The Mongoliad, set in Foreworld, created by the Subutai Corp.
In 1979 David Drake (1945-) pub. Hammer's Slammers (short stories); first in a series about a future mercenary tank regiment led by Col. Alois Hammer, based on the author's experiences in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970.
In 1979 Los Angeles, Calif.-born Harry Norman Turtledove (1949-) pub. his first novel Wereblood under the alias Eric G. Iverson; also Werenight. In 1987 he pub. Agent of Byzantium; Isaac Asimov Presents #3; Muhammad converts to Christianity instead of founding Islam, allowing the Byzantine Empire to flourish. In 1988 he pub. A Different Flesh; Europe conquers North Am.; Noninterference. In 1992 he pub. The Guns of the South: A Novel of the Civil War; pseduo-sci-fi plot has 20th cent. white supremacists travel back to give the Confederates AK-47s and help them win the war, only to see Gen. Robert E. Lee turn on them and become a bleeding heart liberal who frees the slaves? In 1993 he pub. The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump. In 1998 he pub. Justinian under the alias H.N. Turteltaub.
On Feb. 15, 1980 Stanley Donen's Saturn 3, written by Martin Amis from a story by John Barry debuts, starring Farrah Fawcett as love babe Alex, Kirk Douglas as Adam, and Harvey Keitel as Capt. Benson, who fight a homicidal robot named Hector; comparison with "Star Wars" causes it to bomb despite a $9M budget.
On May 21, 1980 Irvin Kershner's Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back debuts; the best of the series, probably because it's not dir. by George Lucas?; the surprise ending where Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that "I'm your father" is kept secret as long as possible; Billy Dee Williams plays token black Lando Calrissian; grosses $290.2M in the U.S. and $533.9M worldwide.
In July 1980 James L. Conway's Hangar-18 debuts, about a UFO coverup after a Space Shuttle incident with an alien craft, causing scientists Steve Bancroft (Gary Collins) and Lew Price (James Hampton) to be targeted by the govt.
On Aug. 1, 1980 Don Taylor's The Final Countdown debuts, starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, and James Farentino in a sci-flick about a U.S. aircraft carrier that time-travels back one day before the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and takes on the Japs; filmed aboard USS Nimitz; brings in $16.6M on a $12M budget.
On Dec. 5, 1980 Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon, based on the Alex Raymond comic debuts; stars Sam J. Jones as Flash, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov, and Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming the Merciless; features a great soundtrack by Queen.
In 1980 Glendale, Calif.-born Glen David Brin (1950-) pub. Sundiver, first in his Uplift series about the Earth ship Streaker in 2489, which discovers a fleet of 50K derelect spaceships belonging to the Progenitors, followed by Startide Rising (1983), and The Uplift War (1987). In 1985 he pub. The Postman, about a post-apocalyptic U.S. that needs a postal worker for a hero; filmed in 1997 starring Kevin Costner. In 1990 he pub. Earth. In 1993 he pub. Glory Season. In 2002 he pub. Kiln (Kil'n) People.
On Jan. 14, 1981 David Cronenberg's Scanners debuts, starring Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan in a sci-fi yarn about people with telepathic powers that can make peoples' heads explode; "There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created... and they are winning."
On Mar. 18, 1981 (Wed.) Stephen J. Cannell's comedy drama series The Greatest American Hero debuts on ABC-TV for 44 episodes (until Feb. 3, 1983), starring William Theodore Katt (1950-) (son of Barbara Hale) as teacher Ralph Hinkley (Hanley), who had an encounter with E.T.s who gave him a red suit conferring superhuman abilities, but lost the instruction booklet, Robert Martin Culp (1930-2010) as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca (Concetta Sellecchia) (1955-) as atty. Pam Davidson.
On Apr. 17, 1981 Carl Gottlieb's Caveman debuts, filmed in Zacatecas, Mexico, starring Ringo Starr as Atouk, who fights Lar (Dennis Quaid) and Tonda (John Matuszak) for Lana, played by bodacious Barbara Bach (Goldbach) (1947-), who marries Ringo on Apr. 27.
On May 22, 1981 Peter Hyams' Outland debuts, starring Sean Connery as Marshal William T. O'Niel, Peter Boyle as Mark Sheppard, and Frances Sternhagen as Dr. Lazarus in a remake of "High Noon" set on Io; brings in $20M on a $16M budget.
On July 10, 1981 John Carpenter's Escape from New York debuts, set in 1997, starring Kurt Russell as leather-clad eye-patched Snake Plissken, a disgraced war hero given 24 hours to rescue the even more snaky U.S. pres. (Donald Pleasance) being held hostage in a future Manhattan, which has been turned into a no-escape prison controlled by felons; so campy and corny that it's good?; Russell, king of grade B action movies keeps a straight face regardless?; the Aug. 9, 1996 sequel Escape from L.A. features Russell wearing the same tight leather outfit, which still fits?
In Oct. 1981 Bruce D. Clark's Galaxy of Terror (Mindwarp) debuts, produced by Roger Corman, starring Edward Albert as Cabren, leader of a space expedition to Morganthus on the Quest, Erin Moran as empath Alluma, Ray Walston as cook Kore, and Grace Zabriskie as Capt. Trantor, who are forced to crash by a mysterious force; brings in $4M on a $1.8M budget.
On Dec. 24, 1981 George Miller's The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) debuts, a futuristic take on the Last of the Mohicans, starring Mel Gibson as Mad Max Rockatansky climaxes with one of the most exciting chase scenes ever, and virtually creates the action-adventure pic of the 1980s; co-stars Emil Minty as the Feral Kid, Mike Preston as Pappagallo, Vernon Wells as Wez, Max Phipps as the Toadie, Bruce Spence as the Gyro Captain, and Swedish-born Kjell Nilsson as facemask-wearing radiation-scarred bodybuilder Lord Humungus; a parable of the peaceful civilized Jews trying to survive while surrounded by a sea of barbaric Palestinians?; does $23.7M U.S. box office on a $10.8M budget; preceded by "Mad Max" (1979); followed by "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985).
In 1981 Waukesha, Wisc.-born Vernor Steffen Vinge (1944-) pub. True Names, an early cyberspace novel. In 1986 he pub. Marooned in Realtime; impenetrable Bobbles (force fields) that permit jumping into the future, and how a bunch of bobblers found out that humanity disappears in the 23rd cent. then regroup millions of years in the future. In 1992 he pub. A Fire Upon the Deep; the galaxy is divided into zones of thought where the higher levels of technology are farthest from the center; of course, the Unthinking Depths at the center is the realm of human intelligence, and Earth is in the Slow Zone. In 1993 he pub. The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era; describes the Singularity, AKA "Rapture of the Nerds" (Ken MacLeod), with the John the Baptist-like soundbyte "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended"; launches the Artificial Intelligence Technoreligion, popular in Silicon Valley, which confuses the exponential growth promised by Moore's Law of ICs with exponential growth of technology itself, resulting in cultlike predictions of computers suddenly growing smarter than humans and taking over the world; actually, computers have zero IQ, they are only fixed logic machines processing data according to programs created by humans, who can try to put their IQ into the computers, but actually can't, and Moore's Law is about the packaging density for the same old design, which never evolves; as late as 2009 it is easy to design captchas that allow Web sites to tell dumb computers from human beings. In 1999 he pub. A Deepness in the Sky; Pham Nuwen and the Qeng Ho interstellar trading fleet vs. the Emergents above the spider planet of Arachna orbiting the OnOff star; Victory Smith and Sherkander Underhill, "an intelligence greater than anything on ten legs"; the Zipheads, the ultimate Rainmen, infected with the Focus. In 2002 he pub. Fast Times at Fairmont High. In 2004 he pub. The Cookie Monster. In 2006 he pub. Rainbows End.
On June 4, 1982 Nicholas Meyer's Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan debuts, written by Harve Bennett makes up for the disappointing first one with an episode taking off from the popular TV episode "Space Seed", starring Ricardo Montalban as a 20th cent. genetically-engineered superman taking on Capt. Kirk (William Shatner); the ending is made into a cliffhanger when the immortally logical Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) dies because of an overuse of his own logic.
On June 25, 1982 Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (The Ladd Co.) (Warner Bros.) debuts, the first sci-fi film noir, based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"; stars Harrison Ford and Edward James Olmos as Nov. 2019 climate-fucked LA cops Rick Deckard and Gaff, who must track down pesky "replicants", humanoid robots Daryl Hannah ("Pris"), Joanna Cassidy ("Zhora"), Brion James ("Leon Kowalski"), led by Rutger Hauer ("Roy Batty"), who are programmed to die in days and are searching for their maker Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), finally getting to him through his asst. J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), only to discover he's a replicant too; meanwhile Deckard falls for replicant Rachael (Sean Young), and has to decide between eloping or terminating her; Deckard is a replicant?; score by Vangelis features Rachel's Song, End Theme; watch trailer; view clip; TLW's favorite sci-fi flick other than Star Trek and Star Wars; should have been set in Nov. 2049 not Nov. 2019?
On June 25, 1982 John Carpenter's The Thing debuts, a remake of the 1951 flick based on the John Campbell short story; stars Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley et al. as scientists in a remote Antarctic outpost facing a shape-shifting creature from outer space.
On July 9, 1982 Steven Lisberger's Tron, a super-silly sendup of computer games by Walt Disney stars Jeff Bridges as a programmer who gets his zillion-selling game stolen by David Warner, and dematerializes into the company's computer (which uses the game as its operating system?) to battle for his rightful place behind the CEO's desk by riding cool lightbikes and flinging virtual frisbees; one of the first films to use extensive CGI.
In Aug. 1982 Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky debuts, starring bi junkie models Margaret and Jimmy, both played by Anne Carlisle, who are visited by an alien spacecraft, whose ETs like peeping on their New Wave Manhattan nightclub lifestyle to extract endorphins produced by orgasms.
On Sept. 26, 1982 Glen A. Larson's Knight Rider debuts on NBC-TV for 90 episodes (until Aug. 8, 1986), starring David Michael Hasselhoff (1952-) as Michael Knight, a Lone Ranger with a custom 1982 Pontiac Trans Am with AI called KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand); spawns the films "Knight Rider 2000" (1991), "Knight Rider 2010" (1994), "Knight Rider" (2008), the spinoff "Team Knight Rider" (1997), and the series "Knight Rider" (2008).
In 1982 Buffalo, N.Y.-born Joseph Vincent "John" Kessel (1950-) pub. his first novel Another Orphan, about a person trapped inside the novel "Moby Dick". In Oct. 1985 he and Mineola, N.Y.-born James Patrick Kelly (1951-) pub. Freedom Beach, about Shaun Reed, who finds himself trapped in an Eden-like resort with a plaque signed by "The Dreamers". In 1989 he pub. Good News from Outer Space. In 1992 he pub. Meeting in Infinity: Allegories & Extrapolations (short stories). In 1997 he pub. Corrupting Dr. Nice. In 2002 he pub. Stories for Men. In 2008 he pub. The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. In 2009 he and James Patrick Kelly pub. The Secret History of Science Fiction.
On May 1-2, 1983 Kenneth Johnson's V debuts on NBC-TV, starring Marc Singer (1948-) as human Mike Donovan, and Jane Badler (1953-) as the chief Visitor in a sci-fi miniseries about the seemingly benign and advanced ET Visitors, who promise the moon then turn out to be reptilians in disguise; it is followed by the 3-part V: The Final Battle in 1984, and V the TV Series in 1984-5. On Nov. 3, 2009 ABC-TV debuts the V sci-fi TV series for 22 episodes (until Mar. 15, 2011), a refilming of the 1983 Kenneth Johnson series about disguised reptilian aliens led by Anna, played by Brazilian-born Morena Baccarin (1979-) who come to Earth and try to seduce them into being eaten by promising universal health and happiness, causing viewers to see a parallel with Pres. Obama and his universal health care program.
On May 7, 1983 John Badham's WarGames (United Artists) (MGM/UA Entertainment Co.) (originally "The Genius") debuts, starring Matthew Broderick as teenie computer game hacker David Lightman of Seattle, Wash., who stumbles and war-dials into the secret U.S. military WOPR supercomputer in NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colo. Springs, Colo. and almost starts WWII; Ally Sheedy play his babe Jennifer Mack; Dabney Coleman plays NORAD mgr. John McKittrick, and John Wood plays pterosaur-loving Dr. Stephen Falken, who lives on an island in Ore. (really Big Bear Lake 100 mi. E of Los Angeles); spawns the term "war dialing"; grosses $79.6M on a $12M budget (#5); the film causes a mini-scare over the absence of computer security; the final launch code is "CPE1704TKS".
On May 25, 1983 Richard Marquand's Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi debuts, giving Star Wars junkies another fix, taking in $309.1M at the domestic box office and $572.9M worldwide on a $32.5M budget; the next film in the series takes 16 years to release.
On Sept. 16, 1983 Michael Lauglin's Strange Invaders debuts, a spoof set in 1958 Centerville, Ill., starring Paul Le Mat as Prof. Charles Bigelow, and Diana Scarwid as his ex-wife Margaret Newman, who discover that the town has been taken over by aliens; also features Nancy Allen as Betty Walker; brings in $1.36M on a $5.5M budget.
On Nov. 20, 1983 Nicholas Meyer's The Day After debuts on ABC-TV to an audience of 100M, starring Jason Robards Jr., portraying the U.S. attempting to survive a nuclear attack on Kansas City, after which Carl Sagan debates William F. Buckley, with Sagan arguing against nuclear proliferation and Buckley for nuclear deterrence, and Sagan uttering the soundbyte "two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five".
On Jan. 1, 1984 (Sun.) (Orwell Day) fears of George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984 coming true become a kind of universal punch line for the year; on Jan. 18 it becomes the fastest-selling book in the U.S. Good news, you don't have pneumonia, you have congestive heart failure? The closest thing to Big Brother is dismantled on cue by Uncle Sam? On Jan. 1 (Sun.) AT&T divests itself of its 22 Bell System cos., keeping its Western Electric div. and breaking up into AT&T Technologies, and AT&T Communications (seven regional telephone cos., incl. Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Nynex, Pacific Telesis, Southwestern Bell, and USWest, which become known as Baby Bells), and goes from the largest co. in the world, with $149.5B in assets and 1,009,000 employees to $34B in assets and 373K employees; it retains its long distance business, and keeps Bell Labs and Western Electric; the breakup becomes good news for investors as new pricing plans and wireless technology give new life, and the stock increases more than 1000% by the end of 1999 (16.4% a year). On Jan. 22 Super Bowl XVIII (18) is held in Tampa, Fla.; the Los Angeles Raiders (AFC) (first franchise to represent two cities in the SB) defeat the Washington Redskins (NFC) by 38-9; Raiders' MVP RB Marcus Allen (1960-) has 20 carries for 191 yards, incl. a record 74-yard TD run from scrimmage where he reverses the field and finishes with an escort from WR Cliff Branch (1948-); NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle forgets their $50M court battle and presents the trophy to Raiders owner Al Davis; Apple Computer's Super Bowl XVIII Halftime Commercial for its new Macintosh computer (introduced on Jan. 24), dir. by Ridley Scott convincingly equates its rival Microsoft and their plug-ugly buggy user-unfriendly generic PCs and monopolistic practices with Orwell's Big Brother; Apple engineer Jef Raskin (1943-2005) and his student Bill Atkinson (1951-) allegedly talked Steve Jobs into visiting Xerox Parc in Palo Alto, Calif., where they viewed and nonchalantly lifted the ideas of the mouse and pop-up windows; it uses the Motorola 68000 microprocessor as the CPU.
On Jan. 22, 1984 (Sun.) the espionage series Airwolf debuts on CBS-TV for 79 episodes (until Aug. 7, 1987), about a secret hi-tech heli, starring Jan-Michael Vincent (1944-) as pilot Stringfellow "String" Hawke, Ernest Borgnine (Ermes Effron Borgnino) (1917-2012) as his flight engineer Dominic "Dom" Santini, David Edward Leslie Hemmings (1941-2003) as psychotic genius Airwolf designer Dr. Charles Henry Moffet, and Alex Cord (Alexander Viespi) (1933-) as the Firm's Panama hat-wearing point man Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III AKA Archangel.
On Mar. 2, 1984 Alex Cox's Repo Man debuts, starring Emilio Estevez as Otto Maddox, who races to deliver a 1964 Chevy Malibu to N.M. to get a $20K reward for the four dead ETs in the trunk.
On Apr. 13, 1984 Fred Schepisi's Iceman debuts, starring Timothy Hutton as anthropologist Dr. Stanley Shephard, and Lindsay Crouse as his colleague Dr. Diane Brady, who unfreeze and reanimate Charlie the Iceman (John Lone).
On June 1, 1984 Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock debuts, featuring the return of Spock's katra to his body; Christopher Lloyd plays Klingon Capt. Kruge; grosses $76M in the U.S. and $87M worldwide.
On July 1, 1984 S.C.-born William Ford Gibson (1948-) (who relocated to Canada in 1967 to avoid the Vietnam War draft) pub. his first novel Neuromancer, which wins the Nebula, Philip K. Dick, and Hugo Awards, inventing the cyberpunk genre, by the coiner of the term "cyberspace"; Henry Dorsett Case, Molly Millions, and Armitage in the Sprawl of Chiba City, Japan; "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" (first sentence); "He never saw Molly again" (last sentence). In 1986 he pub. Count Zero; Sprawl Trilogy #2; Bobby Newmark, Turner, Mitchell, Angie. In 1988 he pub. Mona Lisa Overdrive; Sprawl Trilogy #3; Mona, Angie Mitchell, Kumiko, Sally Shears, Slick Henry, Count Bobby Newmark.
On July 13, 1984 Nick Castle's The Last Starfighter debuts, starring Lance Guest as Am. trailer park teenie Alex Rogan, who beats the Starfighter Video Game and is recruited by Centauri (Robert Preston) to save the galaxy as Beta Alex with Grig (Dan O'Herlihy) and win his babe Maggie Gordon (Catherine Mary Stuart); features 25 min. of space battle scenes created by Digital Productions that require a 400Mflop supercomputer to run for a month.
On Aug. 15, 1984 W.D. Richter's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! debuts, starring Peter Weller as Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, who fights the Red Lectroids from Planet 10 and Yoyodine Propulsion Systems with the help of his Hong Kong Cavaliers and the Blue Blaze Irregulars; John Lithgow plays Dr. Emilio Lizardo; brings in only $8.2M on a $17M budget.
On Aug. 3, 1984 Stewart Raffill's The Philadelphia Experiment debuts, starring Michael Pare and Bobby Di Cicco as two U.S. navy sailors whose ship undergoes an experiment in 1943 to make it invisible to radar, and instead get time-traveled to the 1984 Nevada desert.
On Oct. 26, 1984 James Cameron's The Terminator (Orion Pictures) debuts, twisting the Orwell 1984 theme into a vision of machines becoming Big Brother, launching the action movie career of Austrian-born speech-challenged steroid-soaked model-stretching-to-be-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Ahnuld) (1947-) (after first choice Lance Henriksen is passed-over), who plays an over-the-top cyborg (robot Frankenstein?), with a total of only 21 lines and 133 words, incl. the one-liner "I'll be baaack"; co-stars Michael Biehn as time-traveling hero Kyle Reese, and Linda Hamilton as innocent LA waitress Sarah Connor, mother of the future savior of humanity; Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen play doomed cops Ed Traxler and Hal Vukovich; does $78.3M box office on a $6.5M budget, and spawns sequels T2: Judgment Day (1991), T3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), and Terminator Genisys (2015); makes a star of actor Ahnuld and Ont., Canada-born dir. James Francis Cameron (1954-); another original choice for the Terminator was O.J. Simpson, but Cameron thought nobody would buy this loveable football hero as a killer?; a big moneymaker for Hemdale Film Corp., owned by British-born John Daly (1937-2008), who tried to get the movie stopped with the exploding truck, but fortunately lost?; "It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with. It will feel no pity, no remorse, no pain, no fear. It will have only one purpose: To return to the present and prevent the future." watch trailer; view clip. view clip.
On Dec. 7, 1984 Peter Hyams' 2010: The Year We Make Contact debuts, a sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey" based on the 1982 Arthur C. Clarke novel "2010: Odyssey Two", starring Roy Scheider as Heywood Floyd, John Lithgow as Dr. Walter Curnow, Bob Balaban as Dr. R. Chandra, and Helen Mirren as Tanya Kirbuk, along with original cast members Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain as Dave Bowman and the voice of HAL 9000; a joint U.S.-Soviet mission to Jupiter ends with it turning into a small star called Lucifer, ending the war back home, with Europa turning into a livable planet with a monolith waiting for its native life to evolve, causing the Jupiter aliens to warn: "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there."
On Dec. 14, 1984 David Lynch's Dune (Universal) debuts, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel set in 10191, starring Kyle MacLachlan as messiah (Kwisatz Haderach) Paul Atreides, who leads the Fremen of the desert planet Dune (Arrakis) to victory over the evil House Harkonnen; stars Jose Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, Jurgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides, Sian Phillips as Bene Gesserit Rev. Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho, Dean Stockwell as Dr. Wellington Yueh, Max von Sydow as Dr. Kynes, Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat, Linda Hunt as the Shadout Mapes, Alicia Witt as Alia, and Sting as Feyd-Rautha; features a soundtrack by Toto; a cerebral movie with a gross-out scene that is taken as homophobic, it gets panned by Roger Ebert as "the worst movie of the year", grossing $31M worldwide on a $40M budget, causing plans for sequels to be cancelled.
On Dec. 14, 1984 John Carpenter's Starman debuts, starring Jeff Bridges as an ET who comes to Earth after hearing the gold phonographic recording on Voyager 2, and is shot down over Chequamegon Bay, Wisc., hooking up with widow Jenny Harden (Karen Allen) and cloning himself as her dead hubby Scott Hayden, after which she helps him make it to Barringer Crater near Winslow, Ariz. to hook up with a rescue craft while being pursued by the feds; brings in $27.7M on a $24M budget.
In 1984 Waukegan, Ill.-born sci-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (1952-) pub. Icehenge; a Stonhenge-type monument is discovered on Pluto; he also pub. The Wild Shore, followed by The Gold Coast (1988), and Pacific Edge, alternate future histories of Calif. In 1985 he pub. The Memory of Whiteness, about a unique musical instrument and its new master who tours the Solar System. In Sept. 1985 he pub. Green Mars, followed by Red Mars (1992), and Blue Mars (1996), an alternative future history of Mars in 2027-2200, showing it terraformed and populated by humans. In 1997 he pub. Antarctica. In 1999 he pub. The Martians (short stories). In 2002 he pub. The Years of Rice and Salt; an alternate world where almost everybody in Europe dies in the 14th cent. Black Death, allowing the non-Euros incl. the Chinese and the Muslims to share the world. In 2004 he pub. the Science in the Capital series incl. Forty Signs of Rain, followed in 2005 by Fifty Degrees Below, and in 2007 by Sixty Days and Counting, about global warming. In 2009 he pub. Galileo's Dream. In 2012 he pub. 2312; Earth has been ravaged by climate change, and the Solar System has been colonized.
On Nov. 1, 1984 Ark.-born Melissa Scott (1960-) pub. her first novel The Game Beyond, about the Roman Empire growing to the stars. On June 1, 1986 she pub. A Choice of Destinies, about Alexander the Great. On Sept. 15, 1987 she pub. The Kindly Ones, about Capt. Leith Morrigan and Trey Maturin on Orestes. In 1988 and Lisa A. Barnett (1958-2006) pub. Armor of Light. In 1990 she pub. Mighty Good Road. In 1993 she pub. Dreamships, about virtual reality navigation of spaceships.
In 1984 Ft. Mead, Md.-born Neal Town Stephenson (1959-) pub. his first novel The Big U. In 1988 he pub. Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller. In May 1992 he pub. Snow Crash, about the Metaverse, a drug slash computer virus, and Hiro Protagonist, "Last of the Freelance Hackers and the Greatest Swordfighter in the World". In 1995 he pub. The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, about Nell, who lives in a future world filled with nanotechnology. In May 1999 he pub. Cryptonomicon, a bestseller based on the story "The King of Maleputa" (1984) by Sol Yurick, about the imaginary island nation of Kinakuta, set up via computer fraud in order to steal from the global bank system. In 2008 he pub. Anathem, about the planet Arbre, where brain people live like monks (fraas and suurs) in concents to pursue intellectual endeavors, and can only communicate with outsiders on the 10-day Apert.
On Feb. 20, 1985 Terry Gilliam's Brazil (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry, a man in a retro-future dystopian world with a totalitarian Orwellian govt. with a slapstick quality and no Big Brother; after bombing in the U.S., it becomes a cult film; features the theme song Squarela do Brasil by Geoff Muldaur.
On June 21, 1985 Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, based on the 1976 Colin Wilson novel "The Space Vampires" debuts, starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, and Mathilda May, about a European space shuttle that brings back three space vampires; does $11.6M box office on a $25M budget.
On July 3, 1985 Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future (July 3) (Amblin Entertainment) (Universal Pictures) debuts, the first of three totally interrelated flicks starring Michael J. Fox as 17-y.-o. Calvin Klein underwear-wearing Marty McFly, Lea Thompson as his mother Lorraine Banes, Crispin Glover as his dad, Thomas F. Wilson as his oafish bullying rival, and Christopher Lloyd as a wacky time travel scientist who invented the flux capacitor and uses it in a nuclear-powered DeLorean, with a great soundtrack by Huey Lewis and The News; Marty travels back from 1985 to 1955 and meets his mom, who falls for him, forcing him to lamely try to get his nerd dad to steal her from him so he can be born; does $381.1M box office on a $19M budget; followed by Back to the Future Part II (Nov. 22, 1989) and Back to the Future Part III (May 25, 1990).
On July 12, 1985 Joe Dante's Explorers debuts, starring Ethan Hawke (in his film debut) as teenie Ben Crandall, who inspires teenie genius Wolfgang Muller (River Phoenix in his film debut) to invent a spacecraft named Thunder Road out of a Tilt-A-Whirl car, and take off to another galaxy, where they meet some alien kids; also stars Jason Presson as Darren Woods, and Bobby Fite as Steve Jackson.
On Dec. 20, 1985 Wolfgang Petersen's Enemy Mine debuts, based on a story by Barry Longyear; stars Dennis Quaid as human Willis E. Davidge, and Louis Gossett Jr. as asexually-reproducing reptilian Drac Jeriba "Jerry" Shigan, whose planets are at war and down each other on Fyrine IV, being forced to survive together, bringing themes of racial and sexual understanding to a new level.
In 1985 Don Dohler's The Galaxy Invader debuts, about an alien from outer space who terrorizes Md.
In 1985 Richland, Wash.-born Orson Scott Card (1951-) (descendant of Brigham Young) pub. Ender's Game, about genius children incl. Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who are trained at Battle School to work computers to kill the Buggers (Formics); big sci-fi hit for its portrayal of children as smarter than adults, although they are just as violent and cruel, spawning a series. In 1986 he pub. the sequel Speaker for the Dead, set 3K years later, with Ender using relativistic time travel to stay alive and only 35 years old. In 1989 he pub. The Worthing Saga; also The Folk of the Fringe. In 1991 he pub. Xenocide; Ender #2. In Aug. 1999 he pub. Ender's Shadow; Ender #3.
In Sept. 1985 Brooklyn, N.Y.-born astronomer Carl Edward Sagan (1934-96) pub. his first novel Contact; agnostic Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway (named after Eleanor Roosevelt and Francois-Marie Arouet, AKA Voltaire), dir. of Project Argus in N.M. receives a repeating series of the first 261 prime numbers, followed by plans for a spaceship, and travels through wormholes to the center of the Milky Way, meeting with ETs who reveal that God is gone from the Universe but left hidden messages inside pi; author gets a $2M advance on the novel, largest so far for an unwritten book; filmed in 1997.
In 1985 Peoria, Ill.-born Dan Simmons (1948-) pub. his first novel Song of Kali; journalist Robert Luzcak is sent by his mag. to Calcutta, where he becomes involved with the horrible Kali cult. In 1989 he pub. Carrion Comfort; Saul Laski vs. Nazi mind vampire von Borchert; also Phases of Gravity; ex-astronaut Richard Baedecker meets a mysterious woman; also Hyperion; based on the Canterbury Tales and the Decameron; set in the 28th cent., where the Hegemony enjoys Farcasters that permit instantaneous travel, while the TechnoCore is run by millions of AIs, and the interstellar barbarian Ousters nip at the edges; meanwhile on the remote colony world Hyperion, the Time Tombs and the Shrike and its cult the Church of the Final Atonement cause problems; first in the Hyperion Cantos (1989-97). In 1991 he pub. Summer of Night, a Stephen King "It" clone set in Elm Haven, Ill. In 1992 he pub. The Hollow Man, based on Dante's Inferno. In 1996 he pub. Endymion, followed in 1997 by The Rise of Endymion. In 1999 he pub. The Crook Factory, about Ernest Hemingway's WWII spy ring in Cuba. In 2000 he pub. Darwin's Blade. In 2003 he pub. Ilium, a a recreation of the events of the Iliad on an alternate Earth and Mars; followed by "Olympos" (2005). In 2006 he pub. The Terror, about the doomed 1840s expedition to find the Northwest Passage, plus a legendary Esquimax beast. On Dec. 28, 2008 he pub. Muse of Fire; the Earth becomes a mausoleum after the Archons erase its culture except for Shakespeare.
On Apr. 11, 1986 Stephen Herek's Critters (New Line Cinema) debuts, a sci-fi comedy horror film starring Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, and Scott Grimes as the Brown family, who are visited by the escaped prisoner Crites from outer space; Herek's dir. debut; does $13M box office on a $2M budget; spawns sequels "Critters 2: The Main Course" (1988), "Critters 3" (1991), "Critters 4" (1992), and "Critters: Bounty Hunter" (2014).
On May 9, 1986 John Badham's Short Circuit debuts, starring cute robot Protagonist Number 5 (Johnny Five) (voiced by Tim Blaney), who escapes from his inventors Newton Graham Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) and Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens) in Nova Labs in Damon, Wash., and is protected by Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) of Astoria, Ore.; brings in $40.7M on a $9M budget.
On June 6, 1986 Tobe Hooper's Invaders from Mars, a remake of the 1953 film debuts, bringing in $5M on a $7M budget.
On July 30, 1986 Randal Kleiser's Flight of the Navigator debuts, starring Joey Cramer as David Scott Freeman, a 12-y.-o. video game lover in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who is transported eight years into the future on July 4, 1978 and ends up piloting a cool flying saucer; Paul Reubens plays Trimaxion/Max.
On Aug. 15, 1986 David Cronenberg's The Fly (Aug. 15) (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a remake of the 1958 film starring Jeff Goldblum as mad scientist Seth Brundle, who mistakenly transmutes himself into Brundle-Fly while his equally long-legged babe Veronica "Ronnie" Quife (Geena Davis) freaks; does $60.6M box office on a $15M budget; watch trailer; view clip.
On Sept. 22, 1986 ALF (Alien Life Form) debuts on NBC-TV for 102 episodes (until Mar. 24, 1990), starring creator Paul Fusco (1953-) as the voice of ALF Gordon Shumway, who likes to eat cats and crash-landed in the San Fernando Valley, Calif. garage of the Tanner family, starring Max Wright (1943-) as social worker father Willie Tanner, Luanne Ruth "Anne" Schedeen (1949-) as mother Kate Tanner, Andrea Elson (1969-) as daughter Lynn Tanner, and Benji Gregory (Benjamin Gregory Hertzberg) (1978-) as son Brian Tanner.
On Oct. 24, 1986 Stuart Gordon's From Beyond, based on the H.P. Lovecraft story debuts, starring Ted Sorel as scientist Dr. Edward Pretorious, inventor of the Resonator, which increases extrasensory perception and enlarges the pineal gland, and Jeffrey Combs as his asst. Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, who bring forth creatures from another dimension that drag them into their world, returning them as shape-shifting monsters that eat human brains; "Humans are such easy prey."
On Nov. 26, 1986 Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Paramount Pictures) debuts, featuring an over-the-top plot about time travel to the 20th cent. and space whales; features Catherine Hicks as San Francisco aquarium biologist Dr. Gillian Taylor, who's in charge of humpback whales George and Gracie at the Cetacean Inst. in Sausalito; Chekhov gets mileage with his line about "nuclear wessels"; grosses $133M worldwide box office on a $21M budget. In July 2009 scientists at Oxford U. announce in Nature Physics the creation of transparent aluminium by using a powerful soft X-ray laser; the same material was made-up for the 1986 film "Star Trek IV"; watch trailer; view clip; view clip; view clip.
On Dec. 20, 1986 "Captain Kirk" William Shatner appears on Saturday Night Live, telling Trekkies (Trekkers) to "get a life".
In 1986 Columbus, Ohio-born Lois McMaster Bujold (1949-) pub. Aftermaths, first in the Vorkosigan Saga (1988-2012), about Miles Vorkosigan. In 1988 she pub. Falling Free, about the genetically-modified 4-armed 0-legged zero-gravity human slave Quaddies, who become obsolete and make a break for it.
On Mar. 31, 1987 (Tue.) the sci-fi series Max Headroom debuts on ABC-TV for 14 episodes (until May 5, 1988), about a future world run by TV networks, starring Matthew George "Matt" Frewer (1958-) as crusading journalist Max Headroom/Edison Carter, Jeffrey Tambor as his neurotic producer Murray, Amanda Pays as Theora Jones, and W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg; watch trailer.
On June 12, 1987 John McTiernan's Predator (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as commandos Maj. Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, Carl Weathers as Gerge Dillon, and Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper battling an alien race of warriors, played by Kevin Peter Hall; does $98.7M on an $18M budget; spawns sequels "Predator 2" (1990), "Alien vs. Predator" (2004), "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" (2007), and "Predators" (2010); watch trailer;
On June 24, 1987 Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (MGM) debuts, a Star Wars spoof that comes out a decade late, falling a little flat?; Rick Moranis is Lord Dark Helmet, Bill Pullman is Lone Star, John Candy is Barfolomew "Barf", and Daphne Zuniga is Princess Vespa; "I bet she gives great helmet"; "Druish princesses are often attracted to money and power, and I have both"; "Oh my God, it's Mega Maid. She's gone from suck to blow"; does $38.1M box office on a $22.7M budget; watch trailer>
On July 17, 1987 Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop (Orion Pictures) debuts, set in a degenerating Detroit, starring Peter Weller as veteran cop Alex J. Murphy, who is killed by mean gangbangers and salvaged by Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a cyborg; also stars Dan O'Herlihy as the OCP chmn., Kurtwood Smith as crime boss Clarence Boddicker, Nancy Allen as Murphy's partner Ann Lewis, Miguel Ferrer as OCP exec Bob Morton, and Ronny Cox as OCP senior pres. Dick Jones; brings in $53.4M in the U.S. on a $13M budget, spawning sequels "RoboCop 2" (1990) and "RoboCop 3" (1993); refilmed in 2014; watch trailer.
On Sept. 28, 1987 the syndicated U.S. TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation debuts to an audience of 27M with a 2-hour pilot Encounter at Farpoint for 178 episodes (until May 23, 1994), giving Trekkies (Trekkers) a new lease on their armchair fantasy lives, but with a tamed-down bureaucratic Ward's catalog model cast of actors set 70 years after ST: TOS (postal clerks in space?), incl. English Shakespearean actor Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart (1940-) as bald Frenchie Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Scott Frakes (1952-) as first officer cmdr. William T. Riker, Levardis Robert Martyn "LeVar" Burton Jr. (1957-) as blind black chief engineer Geordi La Forge, Michael Dorn (1952-) as (black but you're not supposed to notice) Klingon security chief Worf, Cheryl Gates McFadden (1949-) as chief medical officer Beverly Crusher, Richard William "Wil" Wheaton III (1972-) as her son Wesley Crusher, Marina Sirtis (1955-) as empathetic human-betazoid ship's counselor Deanna Troi, Denise Michelle Crosby (1957-) (granddaughter of Bing Crosby) as Security Chief Tasha Yar, and Brent Jay Spiner (1949-) as Data, an android Pinocchio with a positronic brain - Michael Jackson beat him to that bleached skin look? Watch trailer.
On Oct. 23, 1987 T.C. Blake's (Robert Collector)'s Nightflyers (The Vista Org.) debuts, a sci-fi horror film based on the 1980 George R.R. Martin novella about a group of scientists on a space voyage to find a mysterious alien being getting victimized by the ship's evil computer; does $1.15M box office; made into the Nightflyers TV series on Syfy that debuts on Dec. 2, 2018 (until ?); watch trailer.
On Nov. 13, 1987 Paul Michael Glaser's The Running Man debuts, based on the 1982 Stephen King novel set in 2017, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as convicted police pilot Ben Richards, who is forced to compete on a sadistic TV show hosted by Damon Killian (Richard Dawson); brings in $38M on a $27M budget; watch trailer.
In 1987 Dunfermine, Fife, Scotland-born Iain M. (Menzies) Banks (1954-2013) pub. his first sci-fi novel Consider Phlebas, with the title taken from a line in the T.S. Eliot poem "The Waste Land", about the galaxy-wide interspecies Idiran-Culture War; first in the Culture Series (1987-2012), about the Culture, whose pop. have 400-year lifespans but have been made obsolete by the Minds and other intelligent machines, incl. The Player of Games (1988) (making a fan of Elon Musk, who names his SpaceX autonomous spaceport drone ships "Just Read the Instructions" and "Of Course I Still Love You"), The State of the Art (1989), Use of Weapons (1990), Excession (1996), Inversions (1998), Look to Windward (2000), Matter (2008), Surface Detail (2010), and The Hydrogen Sonata (2012).
In 1987 Schenectady, N.Y.-born cyberpunk writer Pat Cadigan (1953-) pub. her first novel Mindplayers, about Allie Haas, #1 in the Deadpan Allie series, incl. Dirty Work: Stories (1989), and A Lie for a Lie (1996). In Feb. 1991 she pub. Synners, about people who turn images from the minds of performers into commercial products. In July 1992 she pub. My Brother's Keeper (short stories). In Nov. 1992 she pub. Fools. In Oct. 1998 she pub. Tea from an Empty Cup, about homicide detective Dore Konstantin, followed by Dervish is Digital; "You'd think that Artificial Reality couldn't kill you, since legally speaking, everything is a lie in AR anyway. But that seems to be just exactly what happened – in a sealed booth. And he died the same way in the real world as he did in AR – a slashed throat." In 1999 she pub. The Web: Avatar.
On Sept. 8, 1988 Julien Temple's Earth Girls Are Easy (De Laurentiis) (Vestron Pictures) debuts, based on the 1984 song by Julie Brown, about three furry aliens Wiploc (red) (Jim Carrey), Zeebo (yellow) (Damon Wayans), and Mac (blue) (Jeff Goldblum), who get attracted by Valley Girl Valerie Gail (Geena Davis); does only $3.9M box office on a $10M budget; "An out-of-this-world, down-to-earth comedy adventure"; watch trailer.
On Oct. 7, 1988 Graham Baker's Alien Nation (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring James Caan as human police detective Matthew Sykes, and Mandy Patinkin as Newcomer alien detective Sykes, who police a future Los Angeles that's trying to integrate an alien race from the planet Tencton, who love to drink rotten milk, and whose big weakness is that salt water burns; does $32M at the box office, causing the Alien Nation TV series to debut on Fox Network on Sept. 18, 1989 (Mon.) for 22 episodes (until May 7, 1990), starring Gary Graham (1950-) as human detective Matthew Sikes, and Eric Pierpoint (1950-) as Newcomer detective George Francisco, who has the hots for female Newcomer Cathy Frankel, played by Terri Treas (1957-); watch trailer; watch trailer; watch trailer.
On Nov. 4, 1988 John Carpenter's They Live (Alive Films) (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the 1963 story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Nelson, starring Wrestlemania star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as L.A. drifter Nada, who finds some special sunglasses and discovers that the govt. and society are run by reptilian aliens in disguise; also stars Keith David as Frank Armigate, and Meg Foster as Holly Thompson; does $13M box office on a $3M budget; "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum"; watch trailer.
On Nov. 24, 1988 Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) debuts on the Comedy Channel for 197 episodes (until Aug. 8, 1999), featured Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson) stranded on space station Satellite of Love with robot sidekicks Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, Gypsy, and Cambot, and forced to watch sci-fi B-movies, riffing them from the peanut gallery; watch trailer.
On Feb. 17, 1989 Stephen Herek's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure debuts, starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as S Calif. teenage slackers Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq., who travel through time to avoid flunking history, meeting Napoleon (Terry Camilleri), Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), Socrates (Tony Steedman), Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis), Genghis Khan (Al Leong), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin), Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron), and Ludwig van Beethoven (Clifford David); soundtrack features tracks by Extreme, Tora Tora, Shark Island, and Big Pig; does $40.5M box office on a $10M budget; followed by "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991); watch trailer.
On Mar. 26, 1989 (Sun.) the sci-fi TV series Quantum Leap debuts on NBC-TV for 96 episodes (until May 5, 1993), starring Scott Stewart Bakula (1954-) as scientist Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett, who gets lost in his own lifetime in the botched Quantum Leap experiment, leaping from life to life while maintaining contact only with his cigar-smoking babe-chasing hologram friend Adm. A. Calavicci, played by former child star Dean Stockwell (1936-); the show is a thin disguise for reliving historical moments in the 1950s-60s and giving them a leftist twist?; watch trailer.
On Apr. 7, 1989 Albert Pyun's Cyborg (009) stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as mercenary Gibson Rickenbacker in the post-apocalyptic U.S.; does $10M box office on a $500K budget; watch trailer.
On June 9, 1989 William Shatner's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier debuts, featuring a disappointing plot featuring rockclimbing, and a ludicrous ending where the USS Enterprises reaches Michelangelo's Jehovah (played by George Murdock) at the edge of the galaxy, with Kirk uttering the soundbyte "What does God need with a starship?" before blasting him; features Laurence Luckinbill as Vulcan religious messiah Sybok; watch trailer.
On June 23, 1989 Joe Johnston's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Walt Disney) debuts, starring Rick Moranis as inventor Wayne Szalinski, who accidentally shrinks his kids to 1/4 in. tall and sends them out into the backyard with the trash; Johnston's dir. debut; does $222.7M box office on an $18M budget; spawns the sequels "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" (1992), "Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves" (1997); watch trailer.
On Nov. 10, 1989 Philippe Mora's Communion, based on the alien abduction book by Whitley Strieber stars Christopher Walken as Strieber, and Lindsay Crouse as his wife Anne; only does $1.92M box office; watch trailer.
On May 19, 1990 By Dawn's Early Light debuts on HBO, based on the 1983 William Prochnau novel "Trinity's Child" about a rogue Soviet group launching a nuke at the U.S., nearly starting WWIII; stars Martin Landau as the U.S. pres., and Nicolas Coster as Gen. Renning AKA Icarus; watch trailer.
On June 1, 1990 Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (TriStar Pictures) debuts, based on the 1966 Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", becoming memorable as one of the few films in which Ahnuld (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can actually almost act (like a comic book char.); his big one-liner here is "Consider that a divorce" as he shoots his double-agent pretend wife, played by Sharon Yvonne Stone (1958-), who steals every scene from him, and makes directors realize that the phony action movie sequences can be done by a beautiful babe instead of a muscular hunk and get higher ratings, spelling the end to Ahnuld's career?; #7 movie of 1990 ($119M U.S. and $261M global box office on a $60M budget); refilmed in 2012; watch trailer.
On Aug. 10, 1990 Joel Schumacher's Flatliners debuts, starring Kiefer Sutherland as medical school student Nelson Wright, who talks four classmates (William Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, and Julie Roberts) into helping him discover what lies beyond death by flatlining for 1 min. before they resuscitate him, then getting them to do ditto; "Some lines shouldn't be crossed"; brings in $141M on a $26M budget; watch trailer;
On June 21, 1991 Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer debuts, produced by Walt Disney Pictures based on the comic by Dale Stevens, which is a homage to Commando Cody; stars Billy Campbell as stunt pilot Cliff Secord AKA the Rocketeer, Jennifer Connelly as his babe Jenny Blake, and Alan Arkan as mechanic A. "Peevy" Peabody; brings in $62M on a $42M budget; watch trailer.
On July 3, 1991 James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day (AKA T2) ("same make, same model, new mission") debuts, a quantum leap in sci-fi and a super hit, well-spending the $100M budget and $15M paycheck ($21,429 per word for 700 words of dialogue) to Ahnuld ($12M in the form of a jet); Robert Patrick kicks Ahnuld's hydraulically-suspended ass as the advanced T-1000 liquid metal man; Edward Furlong plays Linda Hamilton's love child from T1; #1 movie of 1991 ($205M); watch trailer.
In Sept. 1991 the animated series AEon Flux debuts on MTV (until Oct. 10, 1995), based on New/Old Age Gnostic concepts and set in a bizarre dystopian future world, starring a tall leather-wearing secret agent ninja babe from the anarchist country of Monica, who tries to infiltrate the neighboring police state of Bregna, ruled by Trevor Goodchild, her sometimes lover; on Dec. 2, 2005 Karyn Kusama's AEon Flux debuts, starring Charlize Theron as an assassin working for the Monicans to overthrow the govt. of Bregna; Frances McDormand plays Handler, Marton Csokas plays Trevor Goodchild, Jonny Lee Miller plays Oren Goodchild, and Sophie Okonedo plays Sithandra; brings in $52M on a $62M budget; watch trailer; watch trailer.
On Dec. 6, 1991 Nicholas Meyer's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country debuts, rescuing the Star Trek franchise with a space Cold War plot; the final appearance of the original series cast; Kim Cattrall plays Vulcan babe Valeris; grosses $96.9M worldwide; watch trailer.
On Jan. 17, 1992 Geoff Murphy's Freejack debuts, based on the 1959 Robert Sheckley novel "Immortality, Inc.", starring Emilio Estevez as race car driver Alex Furlong, who is about to die in a 1991 crash when his body is bonejacked (snatched) to 2009 Bronx to be taken over by rich Ian McCandless (Anthony Hopkins); also stars Mick Jagger and Rene Russo; brings in $17M on a $30M budget; watch trailer.
On Mar. 6, 1992 Brett Leonard's The Lawnmower Man debuts, loosely based on a Stephen King short story; stars Jeff Fahey as gardner Jobe Smith, who is experimented on by Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) of Virtual Space Industries to raise his IQ, making him a supergenius with telepathic abilities who decides to take over the world by becoming "pure energy" and taking over the lab's mainframe computer; King successfully sues the producers to disassociate his name from the film; watch tailer.
On May 9, 1992 David Twohy's Timescape (Grand Tour: Disaster in Time) debuts, based on the novel "Vintage Season" by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, starring Jeff Daniels as widower Ben Wilson, and Ariana Richards as his daughter Hillary, who are visited by the Tourists from another time; dir. debut for Twohy; features a cameo by Robert Colbert of "The Time Tunnel"; watch trailer
On May 22, 1992 David Fincher's Alien 3 debuts; Ripley's pod crashes on the penal colony Fiorina "Fury" 161, where the horny all-male double-Y inmates can barely stand it; features an Alien hiding in a dog, which she kills, only to find another inside herself, which she finishes off by committing suicide in a giant furnace; brings in $159.8M on a $50M budget; watch trailer.On July 10, 1992 Roland Emmerich's Universal Soldier debuts, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as U.S. Pvt. Luc Devereaux, and Dolph Lundgren as Sgt. Andrew Scott, who get in a squabble in 1969 Vietnam and kill each other, then are reanimated as universal soldiers GR44 and GR13 in 1992; watch trailer.
On Sept. 24, 1992 Sci-Fi Channel debuts as part of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast (until ?); on July 7, 2009 it becomes Syfy.
On Oct. 9, 1992 Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness (Dino De Laurentiis) (Universal Pictures) debuts, a tongue-in-cheek action movie starring Bruce Campbell as discount store employee Ash Williams, who is accidentally transported to 1300 C.E., and has to use his chainsaw to battle an army of the dead led by Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert) with his babe Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) and find the Necronomicon to return home; does $25.5M box office on an $11M budget; "1 man, 1 million dead, the odds are just about even"; watch trailer.
In Dec. 1992 Stuart Gordon's Fortress debuts, shot in Australia, starring Christopher Lambert as John Henry Brennick, and Loryn Locklin as his wife Karen B. Brennick, who are sent to a maximum security prison for violating the govt.'s 1-child policy in 2017; followed by "Fortress 2: Re-Entry" (1999); watch trailer.
On Jan. 3, 1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) debuts for 176 episodes (until June 2, 1999), set in the 2370s on a space station, starring Avery Franklin Brooks (1948-) as commanding officer Benjamin Sisko, Nana Visitor (Tucker) (1957-) as Bajoran First Officer Maj. Kira Nerys, Rene Murat Auberjonois (1940-) as Changeling Constable Odo, Sudan-born Alexander Siddig (Siddig El Fadil) (1965-) as Chief Medical Officer Lt. Julian Bashir, Theresa Lee "Terry" Farrell (1963-) as Trill Chief Science Officer Jadzia Dax, Michael Dorn (1952-) as Klingon First Officer Lt. Cmdr. Worf, and Colm J. Meaney (1953-) as chief of operations Miles O'Brien; watch trailer.
On Mar. 12, 1993 Robert Lieberman's Fire in the Sky debuts, based on the 1978 Travis Walton book "The Walton Experience", about an alien abduction in Ariz. on Nov. 5, 1975, starring D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick; brings in $19.9M on a $15M budget; watch trailer; view clip.
On June 9, 1993 Jurassic Park (Amblin Entertainment) (Universal Pictures) based on the 1990 Michael Crichton novel debuts, starring Sam Neill as paleontologist Dr. Alan Gant, who takes hotpants asst. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to ee a crazy theme park with cloned dinosaurs, run by John Hammond (Richard Atenborough), only to see on-the-take fat computer nerd (geekosaurus) Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) let the dinos out; #1 movie of 1993 ($350M U.S. and $1.029B worldwide box office on a $63M budget); watch trailer.
On Sept. 10, 1993 (Fri.) the super-successful TV series The X-Files debuts on CBS-TV for 202 episodes (until May 19, 2002), created by Christopher Carl "Chris" Carter (1956-), with the creepy X-File Theme and other music by Mark Snow (Martin Fulterman) (1946-) (brother-in-law of Tyne Daly), introducing by-the-book scientific FBI babe-agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Leigh Anderson (1968-), who is paid to reign in maverick paranormal-curious FBI agent-stud Fox Mulder, played by David William Duchovny (1960-), who is investigating the mysterious deaths of h.s. students in Ore.; introduces Scully's Theme; oo bad, 9/11 ends up killing the series - right next to Twin Peaks? Watch trailer.
On Oct. 8, 1993 Marco Brambilla's Demolition Man (Warner Bros.) debuts, a sci-fi action flick set in Taco Bell-filled 2032 San Angeles based loosely on Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel "Brave New World", starring Sylvester Stallone as 1996 LAPD Sgt. John Spartan (after Jackie Chan turns the part down), who must catch criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) with the help of Lt. Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock); grosses $159M worldwide on a $57M budget; Brambilla's dir. debut; does $159.1M box office on a $77M budet; Hungarian sci-fi novelist Istvan Nemere claims that they stole the script from his 1986 novel "Fight of the Dead"; View trailer.
In 1993 Leeds, England-born Charles David George "Charlie" Stross (1964-) pub. his first novel Scratch Monkey. In 2003 he pub. Singularity Sky, followed by Iron Sunrise (2004), AKA the Eschaton series. In 2004 he pub. The Atrocity Archives, first in the Laundry Files, about British spy Bob Howard. In 2004 he pub. The Family Trade, first in the Merchant Princes series. In 2005 he pub. Accelerando, stories about the Singularity. In 2006 he pub. Glasshouse. In 2007 he pub. Halting State, about crime in the early 21st cent., followed by Rule 34 (2011), and The Lambda Functionary (2014). In 2007 he also pub. Missile Gap, in which the surface of 1962 Earth is peeled off and placed on a flat surface, allowing the Soviet Union to conquer W Europe. In 2008 he pub. Saturn's Children, about an android society that succeeds humanity, followed by Neptune's Blood (2013). In 2012 he and Cory Doctorow pub. The Rapture of the Nerds.
On Jan. 26, 1994 Warner Bros.' Babylon 5, created by Michael Straczynski debuts for 110 episodes (until Nov. 25, 1998), about the five dominant species of Humans, Minbari, Narn, Centauri, and Vorlons, set in 2258 on the 5 mi. x 0.5 mi. O'Neill Cylinder-shaped Babylon 5 space station located in Epsilon Eridani at the 5th Lagrangian Point between Epsilon III and its moon; watch trailer.
On Mar. 17, 1994 David Giancola's Time Chasers (Tangents) debuts, starring Matthew Bruch as amateur inventor Nick Miller, who builds a time travel device with a Commodore 64 and private airplane, and travels with his babe Lisa Henson (Bonnie Pritchard) while battling evil Gencorp CEO J.K. Robertson (George Woodward); "His mission is to save the future. But time waits for no man"; watch trailer.
On Sept. 16, 1994 Peter Hyams' Timecop debuts, based on the Dark Horse Comics series by Mark Verheiden stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a 1994 police officer and 2004 U.S. federal Time Enforcement Commission agent Max Walker; also stars Ron Silver and Mia Sara; brings in $103.6M on a $27M budget; too bad, Van Damme gets greedy and turns down a 3-film $36M deal to hold out for $20M/film like Jim Carrey gets, causing him to be blacklisted, ending his movie career. On Sept. 30, 2003 Steve Boyum's Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision debuts, starring Jason Scott Lee as 2025 TEC agent Ryan Chan; watch trailer; watch trailer.
On Oct. 28, 1994 Roland Emmerich's Stargate (Centropolis Film Productions) (MGM/UA) debuts, a sci-fi thriller about an ancient Egyptian wormhole device debuts, starring Kurt Russell as Col. Jack O'Neil, James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Jaye Davidson as Ra; grosses $196.6M on a $55M budget, spawning the Showtime series Stargate SG-1 on July 27, 1997 for 214 episodes (Mar. 13, 2007); watch trailer; watch clip.
On Nov. 18, 1994 David Carson's Star Trek Generations debuts, featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and portraying the death of Capt. Kirk; grosses $75.7M in the U.S. and $118M worldwide on a $35M budget; watch trailer.
On Jan. 18, 1995 Star Trek: Voyager debuts on the new UPN TV network owned by Paramount for 172 episodes (until May 23, 2001), set in 2371, about a ship stranded 75K l.y. away from Earth, starring Katherine Kiernan Maria "Kate" Mulgrew (1955-) as Capt. Kathryn Janeway, Robert Adame Beltran (1953-) as Cmdr. Chakotay, Timothy Darrell "Tim" Russ (1956-) as Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok, Ethan Phillips (1955-) as Neelix, Jeri Lynn Zimmerman Ryan (1968-) as bodalicious Seven of Nine, and Robert Picardo (1953-) as the holographic Doctor; watch trailer.
On May 26, 1995 Robert Longo's Johnny Mnemonic (Alliance Communiations) (TriStar Pictures) debuts, based on the 1981 short story by William Gibson, starring Keanu Reeves as a mnemonic courier in East Asian-megacorp.-dominated 2021; Longo's dir. debut; does $52.4M box office on a $26M budget; watch trailer.
On June 30, 1995 Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd (Hollywood Pictures) (Buena Vista Pictures) debuts, based on the British comic "2000 AD", starring Sylvester Stallone as street judge Joseph Dredd, Armand Assante as judge-turned-psychokiller Rico, Max von Sydow as Chief Judge Fargo, and Jurgen Prochnow as Judge Griffin; does $113.5M box office on a $90M budget; refilmed in 2012 as "Dredd" starring Karl Urban; watch trailer.
On July 28, 1995 Kevin Reynolds' Waterworld (Universal Pictures) ("A man with a serious drinking problem") debuts, gobbling up $172M in production and causing star Costly Kevin, er, Kevin Costner to call in his chips, becoming known as Fishtar and Kevin's Gate; stars Costner as man-fish Mariner, who helps the good human survivors of global flooding, esp. his babe Jeanne Tripplehorn look for Dryland while fighting Dennis Hopper's mean Smokers on a floating set anchored off Hawaii that is once lost during a tropical storm; does $264.2M box office; it could be the best or the worst sci-flick yet made, wait till the secondary markets are milked?; watch trailer.
In July 1995 Norwich, England-born Philip Pullman (1946-) pub. The Golden Compass (Northern Lights); written by a secular humanist atheist as an alternative to C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia", dissing organized religion; 12-y.-o. Lyra Bevelacqua uses an alethiometer (truth measure) to discover a path between worlds and finish the rebellion against the Authority started by Lucifer; filmed in 2007; first in the Dark Materials trilogy ("The Subtle Knife",1997, "The Amber Spyglass", 2000); really pisses-off Roman Catholics?
On Aug. 4, 1995 Brett Leonard's Virtuosity (Largo Entertainment) (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring Russell Crowe as villain program SID 6.7 in a virtual reality world, who escapes to the real world in an android body and is chased by policeman Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington); does $101.6M box office on a $27M budget; like in the 1989 film "The Mighty Quinn" with Mimi Rogers, Denzel refuses to kiss hot white costar Kelly Lynch onscreen for fear of alienating the white male audience, later doing ditto with Julia Roberts in "The Pelican Brief"; in 1998 he chills out and does it with Milla Jovovich in Spike Lee's "He Got Game"; watch trailer.
On Sept. 8, 1995 Christian Duguay's Screamers (Columbia Pictures) debuts, based on the Philip K. Dick novel "Second Variety", starring Robocop Peter Weller as Col. Joe a. Hendricksson, who leads a band of survivors on radiation-contaminated Sirius 6B in the year 2078 against mechanical creatures with razor claws who originally were built to protect humans but decide to take over and breed, don't ask how; does $5.7M box office on a $20M budget; watch trailer; view clip.
On Dec. 29, 1995 Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, (Universal Pictures) based on the 1962 film "La Jetee" debuts, starring Bruce Willis as released con James Cole, who is sent back in time to gather info. on the deadly virus of 1996-7 released by the Army of the 12 Monkeys that forced the pop. to live underground, and ends up in 1990, getting put in a nuthouse by Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), and meeting up with nutcase Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt); does $168.8M worldwide box office on a $29.5M budget; watch trailer.
In 1995 Mark Rosman's Evolver debuts, starring the voice of William H. Macy as a robot won in a game of laser tag by Kyle Baxter (Ethan Embry) that evolves from a friendly pal into a Terminator; also stars Cassidy Rae, Chance Quinn, and John de Lancie; "This toy acts like it's playing for keeps"; watch trailer.
On Jan. 9, 1996 3rd Rock from the Sun debuts on NBC-TV for 139 episodes (until May 22, 2001), about four ETs sent to the insignificant planet Earth to Rutherford (near Cleveland), Ohio to pose as a human family and observe humans, starring John Arthur Lithgow (1945-) as Dick Solomon, 6'0" Kristen Johnston (1967-) as Sally Solomon, Milton French Stewart (1964-) as Harry Solomon, and Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt (1981-) as Tommy Solomon; also stars Jane Therese Curtin (1947-) as Dick's human anthropologist babe Dr. Mary Margaret Albright of Pendleton State U.; watch trailer.
On May 31, 1996 David Twohy's The Arrival debuts, starring Charlie Sheen as radio astronomer Zane Zaminsky, who discovers evidence of intelligent ETs and becomes a victim of a conspiracy; Teri Polo plays his babe Char; does $14M on a $25M budget, then becomes a cult film; watch trailer.
On June 25, 1996 Roland Emmerich's Independence Day (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring Bill Pullman as U.S. pres. Thomas J. Whitmore fighting aliens from outer space who arrive in 20-mi.-wide ships and zap the White House, eliciting a worldwide jingoistic human speciesist response; Jeff Goldblum plays Jewish genius David Levinson, who uploads a virus to the alien craft, which is neat since he doesn't speak their language; Will Smith steals half the show as fighter pilot Capt. Steve Hiller; #1 grossing movie of 1996 ($306M U.S. and $817.4M worldwide box office on a $75M budget); Emmerich wrote the script while promoting the 1994 film "Stargate" after a reporter asked him if he believes in aliens; watch trailer.
On June 28, 1996 Tom Shadyac's The Nutty Professor (Universal Pictures) a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis film debuts, starring Eddie Murphy as super-fat chemist Sherman Klump, who creates a potion to turn himself into love machine Buddy Love; Murphy also plays the whole Klump family; #7 movie of the year ($129M in the U.S. $273.9M worldwide on a $54M budget); followed by "Nutty Professor II: the Klumps" (2000); watch trailer.
On July 5, 1996 Jon Turteltaub's Phenomenon, written by Gerald Di Pego debuts, starring John Travolta as average smalltown guy George Malley, who is visited on his 37th birthday by an ET and transformed into a genius with telekinetic powers, wowing his babe Lace Pennamin (Kyra Sedgwick) and friends Nate Pope (Forest Whitaker) and Doc Brunder (Robert Duvall), while causing the town to turn on him and the govt. to try to use him; brings in $152M on a $32M budget; watch trailer.
On Nov. 22, 1996 Jonathan Frakes' Star Trek: First Contact debuts, featuring time travel back to 2063 along with the Borgs; Alice Krige plays the Borg Queen; grosses $92M in the U.S. and $146M worldwide; watch trailer.
On Dec. 13, 1996 Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! (Warner Bros.) debuts, based on the trading card series parodying sci-fi B-movies, starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, and Sarah Jessica Parker, and features gawd-awful Slim Whitman "Indian Love Call" music along with Theremin SFX; Burton's model babe Lisa Marie Smith (1968-) plays the lethal Martian Girl; grosses $101M worldwide on a $100M budget; watch trailer; view clip.
In 1996 Chicago, Ill.-born Roman Catholic-to-Jewish convert Mary Doria Russell (1950-) pub. her first novel The Sparrow, followed by Children of God (1998), about first contact with aliens along with the idea of a benevolent deity in a Universe filled with evil and pain.
On Jan. 28, 1997 Anthony Doublin's straight-to-video Future War debuts, starring kickboxing champ Daniel Bernhardt as the Runaway, who is pursued by cyborg slavers using dinosaur trackers; watch trailer.
On May 9, 1997 Luc Besson's The Fifth Element (most expensive non-Hollywood film to date, $80M), based on a story by Luc Besson debuts, about 23rd cent. Earth stars Bruce Willis as taxi driver Korben Dallas, Gary Oldman as evil Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, Ian Holm as Father Vito Cornelius, Gary Carter as Ruby Rhod, and Milla Jovovich as messiah Leeloo, taking sci-fi into silly new territory with walking talking good space turkeys vs. bad militant space dogs; Tiny Lister plays black U.S. pres. Lindberg; don't miss the great opera-singing by a blue-skinned alien Diva Plavalaguna (bald actress Kristen Fick/Maiwenn) with built-in organ pipes; the fifth element is Love; watch trailer; view clip.
On July 2, 1997 Barry Sonnenfeld's Men in Black (Columbia Pictures), based on a Marvel comic book series debuts, starring Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, and Will Smith as Agent J, who work for Chief Zed (Rip Torn) to fight renegade alien immigrants from outer space; brings in $589.4M on a $90M budget, causing Marvel to option Spider-Man et al. to Columbia Pictures; followed by the animated "Men in Black: The Series" (1997-2001) on The WB, "Men in Black II" (2002), and "Men in Black 3" (2012) - is that K for kracker and J for jigaboo? Watch trailer; view clip.
On Aug. 22, 1997 Paul W.S. Anderson's Event Horizon debuts, written by Philip Eisner; stars Lawrence Fishburne as Capt. Miller of the starship Event Horizon, which jumps through a wormhole the wrong way and ends up in Hell; also stars Sam Neill as Dr. William Weir, Kathleen Quinlan as Lt. Peters, and Joely Richardson as Lt. Starck; a flop in the U.S., but a hit in the U.K., becoming a cult film; "Infinite Space. Infinite Terror"; watch trailer; view clip.On Oct. 24, 1997 Andrew Niccol's Gattaca debuts, starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman in a biopunk futurist film about a world where those born after preimplanation genetic diagnosis ("valids") are given preferential treatment compared to those conceived by traditional means ("invalids"); watch trailer.
On Nov. 7, 1997 Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers debuts, loosely based on the 1959 Robert A. Heinlein novel with great SFX filmed in Hell's Half Acre in Wyo.; stars Caspar Van Dien as young soldier Johnny Rico, who joins the Mobile Infantry to fight the Arachnid Bugs on planet Klendathu while courting babe Lt. Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) and being pursued by Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer); Michael Ironside plays his civilian teacher Jean Rasczak, who becomes his lt.; grosses $121M worldwide on a $105M budget; watch trailer; view clip.
On Nov. 22, 1997 Robert Zemeckis' Contact debuts, based on the 1985 novel by Carl Sagan (who dies during production); stars "Freaky Friday" actress Jodie Foster as Seti astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway, who receives signals from Vega containing a plan for a gravity-bending spaceship, and goes through the wormholes to meet her own dead daddy (David Morse) uttering the soundbyte "Small steps", and returns only to have the govt. cover it up; brings in $171M on a $90M budget; "A journey to the heart of the Universe"; "The Universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space, right?" - it would be funny if it weren't so tragic? Watch trailer; view cip.
On Nov. 26, 1997 Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien Resurrection debuts, starring Sigourney Weaver as her own clone (#8) convolved with the Alien Queen's DNA, who gives birth to a hybrid Alien who calls her mama and whom she must pitilessly murder; brings in $161M on a $75M budget; watch trailer.
In 1998 Denver, Colo.-born T.L. Winslow (TLW) (1953-) begins his career as a fiction author, intending to initiate a new age of lit., producing the following novels this year: Five Smooth Stones (first novel) (how Islam destroys the West); Isn't Jack in Jail? (pub. under alias Hamda Lindleton) (how lesbianism inevitably takes over the world); Tegeena: Warrior Priestess (the truth about how women were squeezed out of male supremacist religion); The Incredible Billion Dollar Geek (Roman a clef); Interdimensional Clownz (the truth about clownophobia AKA clourophobia); Schwarzen Auger: Dark Eyes of Evil (the Schwarzenegger eugenics Fourth Reich conspiracy); Space Reachers 2999 (why Star Trek sucks); TLW decides he's such a phenom he can bypass the traditional publishing industry and self-publish e-books and distribute them on the Web, which will take years to ramp up but he's got plenty of time and has a list of 500 novels on the drawing boards. In 1999 he pub. Anti-World War I (the ultimate victory for Americanism, and the price paid); Dork Dick (a computer crime detective and his hangups about Bill Gates); Horror High School (the real truth behind U.S. high school shootings?); Young Howard (a lost autobio. of a famed shock jock is found). In 2000 he pub. Falling Off Point Mugu (how an airplane crash convolves with the crash of the mighty U.S.); Baby Boom Morticians (the ultimate end of U.S. Baby Boomers); Salvation Day: The Immortality Device (the truth about the Shroud of Turin); Rock and Roll Corerunner (the face of war in the 22nd cent.); The Ice Cream Man (an Am. ice cream truck driver's big summer). In 2001 he pub. Salvation Day II: The Fire of Michael. Too bad, when 9/11 hits and he realizes that he could be taken out at any moment, he has to shelve his lit. career to get real and work full-time on the Great Track of Time, which had only been a hobby until then. Any major publisher is free to contact me about publishing my entire backlist as long as you do all the work.
On Feb. 13, 1998 Barry Levinson's Sphere debuts, based on the 1987 Michael Crichton novel, starring Dustin Hoffman as Dr. Norman Goodman, Sharon Stone as Dr. Elizabeth "Beth" Halperin, and Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. Harry Adams; watch trailer.
On Feb. 19, 1998 Trinity first calls Neo in the 1999 Warner Bros. film The Matrix; at the end of the film the calling date is Sept. 18, 1999. On Mar. 31, 1999 Andy Wachowski's and Larry Wachowski's The Matrix (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring Keanu Reeves as trenchcoat-wearing hacker Neo, super-slick black-vinyl-and-hair dream babe Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity, and pince-nez-wearing Samuel L. Jackson as Morpheus (Roman god of dreams) in a quantum leap in sci-fi flicks, where the Internet becomes a bad joke that can be bypassed with telephones, and all humans are really held in vats and fed virtual reality stimuli so that their bodies can be farmed for energy to feed computerized robots who have taken over the Earth; in the VR world the initiated can perform impossible feats and do neat Kung Fu with hidden wires; Hugo Weaving plays the ultimate villain Agent Smith; #5 movie of 1999 ($172M U.S. and $463.5M worldwide box office on a $63M budget), it spawns two sequels, "The Matrix: Reloaded" (2003) and "The Matrix: Revolutions" (2003); the flicks are full of cool psychobabble soundbytes, incl.: "I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries; a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you"; "I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole"; "You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that's not far from the truth"; "Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself"; "I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it"; "You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes"; "The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth"; "Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"; "Reality is a thing of the past"; "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path"; the little problem of where the liquid human food comes from, if not humans, raises a little problem with the Law of Energy Conservation?; watch trailer; watch clip; watch clip.
On Feb. 27, 1998 Alex Proyas' Dark City debuts, starring Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch, a man with amnesia accused of murder trying to discover his true identity while on the run in a world with no Sun run by the Strangers, beings with telekinetic powers who want human souls; watch trailer.
On May 20, 1998 Roland Emmerich's Godzilla (TriStar Pictures), a lavish remake of the campy 1954 Japanese cult classic stars Matthew Broderick as nerd biologist Niko Tatopoulos, and Jean Reno as a French secret agent following the monster to its nesting spot of New York City; when it turns out to be a clone of Jurassic Park and totally misses the message of the real Godzilla, that he's a force of Nature brought forth by the gods in revenge for mankind's messing with nukes, and therefore can't be killed, it fizzles at the box office, er, it does $379M box office on a $150M budget; watch trailer; watch clip.
On July 1, 1998 Michael Bay's Armageddon (Touchstone Pictures) (Buena Vista Pictures) debuts, starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton, Will Patton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Owen Wilson, Peter Stormare, and Liv Tyler, attempting to cash in on Millennium Fever with a giant asteroid threatening to impact Earth and a special NASA expedition to deflect it with a nuke combined with a silly love affair and overblown heroism, powered by an Arrowsmith sound track; #2 movie of 1998 ($202M U.S. and $553.7M worldwide box office on a $140M budget); "It's time to kick some asteroid"; watch trailer.
On Aug. 21, 1998 Stephen Norrington's Blade (Amen Ra Films) (New Line Cinema) debuts, based on the Mavel Comics char., starring Wesley Snipes as samurai sword-swinging half-vampire vampire hunter Blade (Eric Brooks), who fights a gang of vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) with his hematologist partner Dr. Karen Jenson (N'Bushe Wright) and mentor Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson); porno queen Traci Lords plays sexy vampire Racquet; does $131.2M box office on a $45M budget; watch trailer.
On Dec. 11, 1998 Jonathan Frakes' Star Trek: Insurrection debuts, about the peaceful Ba'ku people and the decrepit Son'a race; grosses $70M in the U.S. and $112.5M worldwide.
On Jan. 15, 1999 John Bruno's Virus, based on the Dark Horse comic book by Chuck Pfarrer debuts, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, and Donald Sutherland as the crew of the Sea Star, which encounters the stranded Russian vessel Akademik Vladislav Volkov, which has been taken over by an alien virus that manufactures robots; does $30.6M box office on a $75M budget, causing Curtis to call it "the all-time piece of shit"; watch trailer.
On Mar. 28, 1999 the futuristic sci-fi animation series Futurama debuts on Fox-TV for 140 episodes (switching to Comedy Central in 2008) (until Sept. 4, 2013), produced by Matt Groening, about New York City pizza delivey boy Philip J. Fry, who is cryogenically frozen for 1K years and hires on with Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery co.; watch intro.
On Apr. 23, 1999 David Cronenberg's Existenz (eXistenZ) debuts, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh as Allegra Geller, and Jude Law as Ted Pikul, who live in a world where organic game pods are inserted into their spines through umbilicans, and get caught in a war between rival game cos. Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics, and don't know what's real and what's part of the game; watch trailer.
On May 19, 1999 George Lucas' Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace the 4th installment of the Star Wars saga debuts, pre-thrilling movie audiences with a trailer that causes thousands of moviegoers to pay to see the 2-min. clip in theaters, then leave without watching the main flick?; the flick brings the Star Wars saga back with much improved special effects, but no cool-talking Darth Vader, and takes in $431M in the U.S. (#1 movie of 1999) and $926M worldwide; Ewan McGregor plays young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman plays Queen Amidala/Padme, Jake Lloyd plays cute little Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid plays Sen. Palpatine; Liam Neeson scores big as doomed Jedi warrior Qui-Gon Jinn; the video game-like pod race sequence pegs the target audience as males; the stupid "exsqueeze me" Jamaican-like animated alien Jarjar Binx character (voiced by Ahmed Best) (Whoopi Goldberg?) causes a violent reaction in many true believers; watch trailer.
On June 30, 1999 Barry Sonnenfeld's Wild Wild West, based on the 1965-9 TV series debuts, starring Will Smith as Maj. James West, bringing in a funky steampunk slave thang dimension; also stars Kevin Kline as Artemus Gordon and Pres. Grant, Kenneth Branagh as bad guy Dr. Arliss Loveless, and Salma Hayek as Rita Escobar; watch trailer.
On Aug. 6, 1999 Brad Bird's animated The Iron Giant based on the 1968 novel "The Iron Man" by Ted Hughes debuts, about boy Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) of Rockwell, Maine, who finds an innocent 100-ft. robot (Vin Diesel) that fell from space in Oct. 1957 and protects it from the paranoid govt. with the help of beatnik Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.); Jennifer Aniston plays his widowed mother Annie Hughes; brings in $31.3M on a $50M budget; watch trailer.
On Dec. 17, 1999 Chris Columbus' Bicentennial Man, debuts, based on the 1992 novel "The Positronic Man" by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, starring Robin Williams as NDR series robot Andrew, who lives 200 years, and in 2205 is officially recognized as human; watch trailer.
On Dec. 25, 1999 Dean Parisot's Galaxy Quest debuts, starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Ruckman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell about a Star Trek-like TV series cast who are taken as the real thing by ETs, and have to help them fight an alien warlord; brings in $90.6M on a $45M budget; watch trailer.
In 1999 Canadian writer Peter Watts (1958-) pub. Starfish, about Lenie Clare, a deep-ocean power station worker physically altered for underwater living, followed by Maelstrom (2001), Behemoth: B-Max (2004), and Behemoth: Seppuku (2006), AKA the Rifters Trilogy. In Oct. 2006 he pub. Blindsight, about astronauts of the ship Theseus (captained by a vampire) in 2082 investigating an alien entity called the Rorschach headed for Earth.
On Mar. 10, 2000 Brian De Palma's Mission to Mars debuts, starring Gary Sinise, Tom Robbins, Don Cheadle, Jerry O'Connell, and Connie Nielsen, about a bad trip there followed by an alien-boosted one back; watch trailer.
On May 12, 2000 Roger Christian's Battlefield Earth, based on the 1982 L. Ron Hubbard novel debuts, a Dutch angle stinker starring John Travolta as Terl the Psychlo, Barry Pepper as human Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, and Forest Whitaker as Psychlo Ker; grosses $29.7M on a $44M budget; "One of the worst films ever made"; watch trailer.
On Aug. 4, 2000 Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man (Columbia Pictures) debuts, based on the 1897 H.G. Wells novel "The Invisible Man", starring Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Cane, a scientist who uses his serum to become invisible then slowly goes insane; also stars Elisabeth Shue as Dr. Linda McKay, and Josh Brolin as Dr. Matthew "Matt" Kensington; does $190.2M box office on a $95M budget; watch trailer.
On Oct. 31, 2000 Allan A. Goldstein's 2001: A Space Travesty debuts, starring Leslie Nielsen as Marshal Richard "Dick" Dixon, who travels to Moon Base Vegan to investigate the cloning of the U.S. pres.; watch trailer>
On Nov. 10, 2000 Anthony Hoffman's Red Planet debuts, starring Carrie-Anne Moss as a sex tease astronaut going to terraforming Mars with Val Kilmer, Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Terence Stamp, and Simon Baker, where a robot goes badass on them and the lunatics take over the asylum; watch trailer.
On June 29, 2001 Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Amblin Entertainment) (Warner Bros.) debuts, based on the story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss, starring Haley Joel Osment as David, a boy android uniquely programmed with the ability to love; also stars Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, and William Hurt; dedicated to Stanley Kubrick; does $235.9M box office on a $100M budget; watch trailer.
On July 27, 2001 Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes a remake of the 1968 movie debuts, starring Mark Wahlberg as human Capt. Leo Davidson, Tim Roth as chimp Gen. Thade, Michael Clarke Duncan as gorilla Col. Attar, and Helena Bonham Carter as chimp Ari; does $362M box office on a $100M budget; #10 movie of 2001 ($180M); the ending actually precludes a sequel?; watch trailer.
On Sept. 11, 2001 (9/11) the infamous 9/11 Attacks forever change the U.S.
On Sept. 26, 2001 (9/11 + 5 = bad omen?) Star Trek: Enterprise debuts on UPN-TV for 98 episodes (until May 13, 2005), starring Scott Stewart Bakula (1954-) as Capt. Jonathan Archer of Earth's first Warp 5 starship Enterprise in the year 2151, his father having designed the engine, Jolene Blalock (1975-) as Vulcan T'Pol, Connor Trinneer (1969-) as aquaphobic chief engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III, Dominic Keating (1962-) as armory officer Malcolm Reed, Linda Park (1978-) as communications officer Hosi Sato, John Billingsley (1960-) as chief medical officer Dr. Phlox, and Anthony T. Montgomery (1970-1) as helmsman Ensign Travis Mayweather.
On Oct. 16, 2001 Smallville debuts on The WB for 218 episodes (until May 13, 2011), based on the DC Comics Superman char., starring Thomas John Patrick "Tom" Welling (1977-) as teenie Clark Kent growing up in Smallville, Kan. - just what America needs right after 9/11?
On Oct. 26, 2001 Iain Softley's K-PAX debuts, based on the novel by Gene Brewer, starring Kevin Spacey as Robert Porter, a man claiming to be prot, an ET from Lyra, causing him to be committed to the Psychiatric Inst. of Manhattan, where Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges) attempts to cure him, while he wins over the other inmates with a promise to take one of them with him on July 27; "Be prepared for anything"; watch trailer.
On Dec. 4, 2001 Gary Fleder's Impostor, based on a 1953 short story by Philip K. Dick debuts, starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Tony Shalhoub, about an attack on Earth in 2079 by aliens from Alpha Centauri, who send replicants to infiltrate the Earth govt.; brings in $8M on a $40M budget; watch trailer.
In 2001 Winrich Kolbe's Ice Planet debuts, starring Wes Studi as Cmdr. Noah Trager of the Earth military base on Io, which is under attack by the ET Zedoni, causing him and his space cadets to escape on the Magellan research vessel to a you know what in an unknown part of the Universe; in 2005 a pilot is released for a TV series starring Michael Ironside; watch trailer.
On Jan. 25, 2002 Mark Pellington's The Mothman Prophecies (Lakeshore Entertainment) debuts, based on the 1975 book by John Keel based on real events in Point Pleasant, W.Va. in Nov. 1966 and Dec. 1967, starring Richard Gere as journalist John Klein, who investigates a dream by Officer Connie Mills (Laura Linney) about a red-eyed flying creature telling her "Wake up, Number 37"; Will Patton plays Gordon Smallwood; does $55.1M box office on a $32M budget; watch trailer.
On Feb. 28, 2002 London, England-born Richard K. Morgan (1965-) pub. the cyberpunk novel Altered Carbon, about antihero Takeshi Kovacs in the 26th cent., in which dead people can have their cortical stacks downloaded into new bodies (sleeves), except for Catholics, who believe their soul goes to Heaven, making them targets for murder; he follows it with Broken Angels (2003), and Woken Furies (2005).
On May 16, 2002 George Lucas' Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones debuts, featuring Anakin Skywalker and Padme in a forbidden romance, bringing in $311M in the U.S. (#3 in 2002) and $648.3M worldwide.
On June 19, 2002 Steven Speilberg's Minority Report (Amblin Entertainment) (20th Cent. Fox) (DreamWorks Pictures) debuts, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick about a society that arrests you before you commit the crime, set in 2054 Washington, D.C., starring Tom Cruise as PreCrime Capt. John Anderton, Colin Farrell as DOJ agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as senior precog Agatha Lively, and Max von Sydow as her boss dir. Lamar Burgess; brings in $358.M worldwide box office on a $102M budget.
On July 3, 2002 Barry Sonnenfeld's Men in Black II (Columbia Pictures) debuts, continuing the 1997 saga of Agent J (James Darrell Edward III) (Will Smith), who must restore the memory of retired Agent K (Kevin Brown) (Tommy Lee Jones) to save the world again; co-stars Lara Flynn Boyle as alien queen Serleena, Rip Torn as Chief Zed, Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs, Patrick Warburton as Agent T, and Paige Brooks as Princess Lauranna; features a cameo by Peter Graves; #8 movie of 2002 ($190M U.S. and $441.8M box office on a $140M budget).
On July 17, 2002 Ellory Elkayem's Eight Legged Freaks debuts, a sci-fi horror comedy flick about giant man-eating spiders, starring David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, and Scott Terra; does $46M box office on a $30M budget.
On Aug. 2, 2002 M. Night Shyamalan's Signs debuts, starring stars Mel Gibson as Rev. Graham Hess, who deals with crop circles and ridiculous water-hating ETs; #6 movie of 2002 ($228M in the U.S., $408M worldwide on a $72M budget). On Aug. 15, 2002 the most elaborate crop circle yet is reported by Crabwood Farm House near Winchester, Hampshire, U.K., consisting of a picture of an extraterrestrial and what appears to be a CD-ROM with raised dots indicating "let's talk" type info.?
On Sept. 20, 2002 Joss Whedon's space Western Firefly debuts on Fox-TV for 14 episodes (until Dec. 20), set in the year 2517 after the renegade crew of Firefly-class spaceship Serenity arrive in a new star system; "Nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things"; on Aug. 22, 2005 Joss Whedon's Serenity debuts, bringing in $38.9M on a budget of $39M.
On Nov. 29, 2002 Steven Soderbergh's Solaris (20th Cent. Fox), debuts, based on the 1961 sci-fi novel by Stanislaw Lem and Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 film, starring George Clooney as Dr. Chris Klein, who meets his dead wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) aboard a space station where people working for the DBA Corp. have been dying; does $30M box office on a $47M budget (bad trailers?).
On Dec. 13, 2002 Stuart Baird's Star Trek: Nemesis debuts, bringing the ST:TNG series to a screeching Romulan flopping thud; stars Tom Hardy as Picard clone Reman Praetor Shinzon; brings in $43M in the U.S. and $67M worldwide on a $60M budget.
On Mar. 28, 2003 Jon Amiel's The Core (Paramount) debuts, starring Hilary Swank as USAF Maj. Rebecca "Beck" Childs, Bruce Greenwood as USN Cmdr. Robert "Bob" Iverson, Aaron Eckhart as U. of Chicago Dr. Joshua "Josh" Keyes, Delroy Lindo as Dr. Edward "Braz" Brazzelton, and Stanley Tucci as Dr. Conrad Zimsky of Project D.E.S.T.I.N.I., which flies the Virgil into the Earth's stalled core relying on their Unobtanium hull; does $73.5M box office on a $60M budget; "Earth has a deadline."
On July 2, 2003 Jonathan Mostow's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines debuts, boringly continuing (ending?) the Terminator series with female terminatrix T-X (Kristanna Loken); Nick Stahl plays adult John Connor; Claire Danes plays his babe Kate Brewster; #8 movie of 2003 ($150M).
On Dec. 25, 2003 John Woo's Paycheck, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick debuts, starring Ben Affleck as reverse engineer Michael Jennings, Uma Thurman as his babe Dr. Rachel Porter, and Aaron Eckhart as billionaire Allcom CEO James Rethrick, who hires him to reverse engineer a competitor's product, a device that can see the future, promising him the paycheck of his dreams.
On Mar. 19, 2004 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, named after a line in Alexander Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard" debuts, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as separated lovers Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski, who had Lacuna Inc. of New York City erase their memories, and meet by accident on a train and fall in love over again; does $72.2M box office on a $20M budget; watch trailer.
On May 17, 2004 Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring Dennis Quaid as climatologist Jack Hall, who must save the world from super-fast global warming er, cooling, which incl. New York being taken over by a new ice age; Jake Gyllenhaal plays his stranded son Sam; #7 movie of 2004 ($187M in the U.S. and $544.3M worldwide on a $125M budget); watch trailer; view clip.
On June 11, 2004 David Twohy's The Chronicles of Riddick, a sequel to "Pitch Black" debuts, starring Vin Diesel as Riddiculous, er, Richard B. Riddick in a black screen with 5-quick-beat pseudo-music trying to lull you to sleep while jarring you back awake?; a world where nobody eats, sleeps, or takes time for bodily functions, and the bill for the war is paid by, er, isn't?; "You keep what you kill"?; brings in $107M on a $105M budget; based on the prequel "Pitch Black" (2000); followed by "Riddick" (2013); watch trailer.
On July 15, 2004 Alex Proyas' I, Robot (20th Cent. Fox), debuts, written by Jeff Vintar (not based on the 1950 Isaac Asimov book) and set in robot-filled 2035, starring Will Smith as Chicago detective Del Spooner, who was saved from drowning by a robot who allowed a 12-y.-o. girl to drown in his place, making him hate all robots, investigating the suspicious suicide of U.S. Robotics founder Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), tracing it to the AI called V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (Fiona Hogan) with the help of robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan); Bruce Greenwood plays USR CEO Lawrence Robertson; grosses $347M worldwide on a $120M budget; watch trailer.
On Oct. 8, 2004 Shane Carruth's Primer, made on a $7K budget debuts, about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel that leads to unexpected difficulties; watch trailer.
On May 19, 2005 George Lucas' Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith debuts, bringing the 6-part saga to an end adequately but not brilliantly, as Canadian teenie actor Christian Hayden is not quite up to the face-acting requirements in the reaction shots?; Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid almost steals the show as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine alias the Evil Emperor; #1 movie of 2005 ($381M); watch trailer.
On June 29, 2005 Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (Amblin Entertainment) (Paramount Pictures) (DreamWorks Pictures) debuts, a remake of the 1953 Byron Haskin flick, starring Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, and Dakota Fanning as his daughter Rachel, using images from the 9/11 exodus of New Yorkers from Lower Manhattan; "The images that stand out most in my mind are of everybody from Manhattan crossing the George Washington Bridge in the shadow of 9/11. It was a searing image I haven't been able to get out of my head" (Spielberg); does $591.7M box office on a $132M budget; watch trailer.
On July 22, 2005 Michael Bay's The Island (Warner Bros) debuts, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as Lincoln Echo Six and Jordan Two Delta, who discover that they're clones created to harvest for body parts; does $162.9M box office (only $36M in the U.S.) on a $126M budget; watch trailer.
On Dec. 13, 2005 Peter Jackson's King Kong (Universal Pictures) debuts, an updated remake with the latest SFX starring Jack Black as Carl Denham, Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll, and Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow; the #5 movie of 2005 ($218M U.S., $550.5M worldwide based on a $207M budget); watch video.
In 2005 Fairfield, Calif.-born John Michael Scalzi II (1969-) pub. his first novel Old Man's War, about septuagenarians from Earth being recruited to fight in space. In 2006 he pub. the sequel The Ghost Brigades, followed by The Last Colony (Apr. 2007), Zoe's Tale (Aug. 2008), and The Human Division (May 2013). In 2012 he pub. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas.
In 2005 Calif.-born Canadian writer Robert Charles Wilson (1953-) pub. Spin, about Tyler Dupree, who lives through the years when aliens construct a "spin membrane" over Earth, followed by Axis (2007), and Vortex (July 2011).
On Mar. 3, 2006 Kurt Wimmer's Ultraviolet, based on the comic book debuts, starring supermodel Milla "Lite" Jovovich as a kick-ass futuristic chop-sockey Joan of Arc with purple hair in a movie about retaining belief in God despite all the attempts of man to play God with genetic engineering?; the state of the art in action movies, combining American, Japanese and Chinese with cool industrial rock music and artistic touches to every kill; watch trailer.
On Mar. 17, 2006 James McTeigue's V for Vendetta (an Andy and Larry Wachowski film), based on a 1989 graphic novel by Alan Moore debuts, starring John Hurt as the Chairman, the British Norsefire dictator crushing TV production asst. Evey (Natalie Portman) (who has her head shaved onscreen by Jeremy Goodhead, er, Woodhead to the slogan "Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith", while the ever-masked you-go-weaving-and-I-go-weaving V (Hugo Weaving) (a Guy-Fawkes-masked Count of Monte Cristo reject transported to the 21st cent.?), named for the slogan from Christopher Marlowe's "Faust" ("Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici" - "By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the Universe") fights the evil govt., tipping over 22K dominoes to form a giant letter V; "England Prevails" (BTN host Lewis Prothero); James Purefoy was originally cast as V; watch trailer.
On Mar. 31, 2006 James Gunn's Slither debuts, starring Michael Rooker as Wheelsy, S.C. car dealer Grant Grant, who is taken over by an ET parasite, and tries to infect the rest of Earth until he is "all that is"; does $12.8M box office on a $15M budget; watch trailer.
On May 25, 2006 Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly debuts, based on the 1977 Philip K. Dick novel, starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr., and Rory Cochrane, about a future world of drug addicts who live under intrusive hi-tech police surveillance; uses an interpolated rotorscope on digital footage to give the film an animated look; watch trailer.
On Sept. 22, 2006 Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, based on the 1922 P.D. James novel about illegal immigrants suffering in 2027 U.K. after a plague of infertility debuts, starring Clive Owen as civil servant Theo Faron, who helps pregnant West African Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) escape; brings in $70M on a $76M budget; watch trailer.
On Sept. 25, 2006 Tim Kring's sci-fi drama series Heroes debuts on NBC-TV for 85 episodes (until Feb. 8, 2010), about ordinary people who discover they have superhuman abilities.
On Oct. 6, 2006 the Hallmark Channel miniseries Final Days of Planet Earth debuts, about an alien takeover, starring Daryl Hannah as Earth Queen Liz Quinlan, Campbell Scott as William Phillips, and Gil Bellows as Lloyd Walker; watch trailer.
On Nov. 22, 2006 Tony Scott's Deja Vu (Déjà Vu) (Touchstone Pictures) debuts, starring Denzel Washington as ATF agent Doug Carlin, who investigates a New Orleans Mardi Gras terrorist attack against ferry Sen. Alvin T. Stumpf that killed 543, and discovers the time window called Snow White, traveling into the past to prevent it and save Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), a woman he falls in love with; does $180.6M box office on a $75M budget; watch trailer.
On Apr. 6, 2007 Danny Boyle's Sunshine debuts, about a spacecraft that travels to the Sun in 2057 to reignite it with a nuclear bomb with the mass of Manhattan; brings in $32M worldwide; watch trailer.
On June 28, 2007 Michael Bay's Transformers debuts, based on the U.S. TV show that aired from 1984-7 about the evil Decepticons, led by Megatron, vs. the good Autobots, led by Optimus Prime; stars Shia LaBeouf as nerd Sam Witwicky, who starts it all by buying a beat-up souped-up yellow 1976 Camaro that is actually the Transformer Bumblebee, and ends up on the run with his new jock babe Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox); well-nuanced plot and emphasis on the humans rises it above the TV series; hauls in a record $27.4M in its debut, beating the $15.7M set by "Dead Man's Chest" last year; #3 movie of 2007 ($319M) ($709M worldwide); followed by "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009), which grosses $836M worldwide (#2 in 2009); watch trailer.
On Nov. 27, 2007 Chris Weitz' The Golden Compass (New Line Cinema) (Warner Bros. Pictures) debuts, based on the 1995 novel "Northern Lights", first in the atheistic His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (an inverted Milton's Paradise Lost) about a network of lily-white parallel worlds where people's souls reside in daemons that take the forms of shapeshifting animal pets, while the mean Magisterium (Roman Catholic Church in disguise?) stifles free thought (why? because they say so?), and only Dust, which flows from U to U can free the minds of pubescent children with the Biblical idea of Original Sin?; too bad, in a lame attempt to sap some of the big dough from the Lord of the Rings audience, it takes the deep philosophical novels and cuts the guts out, then ramps it up with digital SFX that give the movie a $180M price tag and add nothing to fill the yawning voids; too bad, after the Catholic League calls for a boycott, and the formula is so co-opted that it fires blanks compared to the novels, it only does $70M box office in the U.S., but makes up for it in internat. sales of $372M on a $180M budget, which New Line Cinema screws up by selling foreign rights in advance, pissing-off Time Warner, who merges it into Warner Brothers; expensive but weak cast incl. Nicole Kidman as mean blonde Marisa Coulter of Jordan College, Oxford (head of the Gen. Oblation Board of Gobblers) (should have been Charlize Theron or Michelle Pfeiffer, or better yet, Madonna, or even Cher, anybody but Kidman?), whimpy Daniel Craig (007) as Lord Asriel (give Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio the bucks instead, or use a 20-something black rapper stud to make it more free-thinking?), and (the only one well-cast) Dakota Blue Richards as his niece Lyra Belacqua, the child heroine who can use the last remaining alethiometer (Golden Compass) (truth meter); supporting chars. incl. Witch Clan queen Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green), Texas aeronaut Lee Scoresby (where's-the-vampires Sam Elliott), Iorek Byrnison, prince of the Panserbjorns (armored polar bears) (voice of Ian McKellen), John Faa (Jim Carter), king of the Gyptians of Svalbard, Lyra's daemon Pantalaimon (voice of Freddie Highmore); the casting of Christopher Lee as the first high councilor cross-links it to the Lord of the Rings and takes away from its separate franchising goals?; "What will the quarrel be about?"; "Nothing less than free will. The Magisterium seeks to control not only this world but every world in the Universe." (yawn) Watch trailer.
On Dec. 14, 2007 Francis Lawrence's I Am Legend (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring Will Smith as not-too-believable scientist Robert Neville, sole New York City survivor of a world plague that transformed the rest into monsters (Darkseekers); Alice Braga plays Brazilian survivor Anna Montez, who takes care of Ethan (Charlie Tahan); Emma Thompson plays Dr. Alice Krippin, who created the cancer cure that morphs into a vampire maker; real-life daughter Willow Smith plays Will's daughter; filmed on location in New York City; $5M was spent on a scene at the Brooklyn Bridge; #6 movie of 2007 ($256M domestic and $329M foreign on a $150M budget); watch trailer.
On May 2, 2008 Jon Favreau's Iron Man, based on the Marvel Comics char. debuts, starring Robert Downey Jr. as hi tech genius Tony Stark, who builds an advanced exoskeleton that makes him into a superhero; Gwyneth Paltrow plays his asst. Pepper Potts; Terrence Howard plays military liaison James Rhodes; Jeff Bridges plays Stark Industries exec Obadiah Stane; brings in $585M on a $140M budget; followed by "Iron Man 2" (2010), and "Iron Man 3" (2013); watch trailer.
On May 26-27, 2008 The Andromeda Strain, based on the 1969 Michael Crichton novel debuts on A&E Network, starring Benjamin Bratt as Dr. Jeremy Stone, Christa Miller as Dr. Angela Noyce, Daniel Dae Kim as Dr. Tsi Chou, and Eric McCormack as Jack Nash; watch trailer.
On June 8, 2008 Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk (Marvel Studios) (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, William Hurt as Gen. Thunderbolt Ross, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, and Liv Tyler as Betty Ross; Lou Ferrigno appears as the Hulk's voice; does $263.4M box office on a $150M budget; watch trailer.
On June 27, 2008 Andrew Stanton's Wall-E debuts, about cute lovable sanitation bot Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class (last robot on Earth) (voiced by Ben Burtt of R2D2 fame), who falls in love with and follows his robot babe EVE into space; brings in $521M on a $180M budget; watch trailer.
On July 11, 2008 Howard McCain's Outlander debuts, a remake of Bewolf set in 709 C.E. Norway starring James Caviezel as ET humanoid soldier Kainan, whose spacecraft wrecks in a large lake, allowing his Moorwen prisoner to escape, causing him to hoodwink local Norse king Hrothgar of Heorot (John Hurt) into helping him hunt a "dragon" while he hooks up with his daughter Freya (Sophia Myles); watch trailer.
On Oct. 31, 2008 Jean de Sigonzac's Lost City Raiders debuts, starring James Brolin, Ian Somerhalder, Ben Cross, and Jamie King on globally-warmed 2048 New Vatican, where Cardinal Battaglia wants to use the Scepter of Moses to stop a global flood; "Waterworld without the budget" (Tampa Tribune); watch trailer.
On Dec. 12, 2008 Scott Derrickson's The Day the Earth Stood Still (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a remake of the 1951 film, starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu; does $233M box office on a $80M budget; watch trailer.
In 2008 Hartford, Conn.-born Suzanne Collins (1962-) pub. the bestseller (1.5M copies) The Hunger Games; 16-y.-o. Katniss Everdeen lives in Panem over the ruins of North Am., ruled by the Capitol, which holds an annual event where a boy and girl ages 12-18 from each of the 12 districts are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death; filmed in 2012; first of the Hunger Games Trilogy, incl. Catching Fire (2009), and Mockingjay (2010).
On Mar. 20, 2009 Alex Proyas' Knowing (Summit Entertainment), based on an idea by novelist Ryne Douglas Pearson debuts, starring Rose Byrne/Lara Robinson as Lucinda Embry-Wayland, who is visited by ETs in 1959 and puts a sheet of numbers in her school's time capsule, which is opened in 2009 by fellow student Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury), whose father Jonathan "John" Koestler (Nicolas Cage) is an MIT astrophysics prof.; the numbers turn out to be dates and coordinates of major disasters, the last one of which is "EE" (everyone else), after which a solar flare wipes out all life on Earth right before some ETs arrive in spaceships to rescue a lucky few; does $187.9M box office on a $50M budget; "Now, I want you to think about the perfect set of circumstances that put this celestial ball of fire at just the correct distance from our little blue planet for life to evolve, making it possible for you to be sitting here in this riveting lecture. But that's a nice thought, right? Everything has a purpose, an order to it, is determined. But then there's the other side of the argument, the theory of randomness, which says it's all simply coincidence. The very fact we exist is nothing but the result of a complex yet inevitable string of chemical accidents and biological mutations. There is no grand meaning. There's no purpose. What about you, Professor Koestler? What? Well, what do you believe? I think shit just happens. But that's me"; watch trailer; watch videeo.On Apr. 3, 2009 R.W. Goodwin's Alien Trespass debuts, a parody of 1950s sci-fi B movies, starring Eric McCormack and Robert Patrick; watch trailer.
On May 8, 2009 J.J. Abrams' Star Trek debuts, an attempt to revive the series by rewinding to the early Starfleet days; stars Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Karl Urban as Dr. Bones McCoy, John Cho as Lt. Hikaru Sulu, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov, Bruce Greenwood as Christopher Pike, Ben Cross as Sarek, and Eric Bana as Nero; Leonard Nimoy appears as Old Spock, while Young Spock gets it on with Uhura in a horrible twisted time-travel travesty that makes fans of the original series gag?; earns $76.5M in its opening weekend, with glowing reviews saying that they've revived the 40-y.-o. series after all; grosses $257.7M in the U.S. (#7); next year Leonard Nimoy announces his retirement from Spock roles and Star Trek conventions - Trekkie sacrilege or Trekker salvation? Watch trailer.
On Aug. 14, 2009 Neill Blomkamp's District 9 debuts, produced by Peter Jackson in a reality show format, about an extraterrestrial race of 6-ft.-tall catfood-loving "prawns" forced to live for decades as illegal aliens in South Africa in an apartheid-style militarized slum by the evil Multinat. United (MNU) Corp., which makes the mistake of trying to evict them, causing Peters Sellers lookalike MNU rep Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to get in the middle and cross-over; watch trailer.
On Sept. 25, 2009 Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates, based on the 2005-6 comic book series debuts, starring Bruce Willias as FBI agent Tom Greer, who lives in a world of humanoid remote control vehicles; grosses $122.4M on an $80M budget; watch trailer.
In Sept. 2009 Paonia, Colo.-born Paolo Bacigalupi (1972-) pub. his first novel The Windup Girl, set in a 23rd cent. Thailand plagued by global warming, megacorporations pushing GMO "genehacked" food, and biotechnology.
On Nov. 13, 2009 Roland Emmerich's 2012 (Columbia Pictures) debuts, starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet in a silly Mayan end of the world exploitation flick with good SFX; Danny Glover plays U.S. Pres. Thomas Winslow, er, Wilson; after a threat of violence by Muslims, a scene showing Mecca being destroyed is switched to Rome; after North Korea declares 2012 (100th anniv. of the birth of Kim Il-sung) as "the year for opening the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower", it bans the film; does $769.7M box office on a $200M budget; watch trailer.
On Dec. 10, 2009 James Cameron's Avatar (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a 3-D sci-fi flick about the moon Pandora and its Na'vi pop., who get in a war with Earth in the 23rd cent., with Sam Worthington starring as paralyzed Marine vet Jake Skully, who inhabits a 10-ft.-tall blue alien avatar; Paul R. Frommer (1944-) invents the Na'vi language for the film; too bad, it costs $237M to make (most expensive in history to date) and $200M to market, and only takes in $73M at the U.S. box office in the first weekend, plus $159.2M overseas ($232.2M), benefiting from the $3-$5 extra added to each ticket for the 3-D fun, and coming in #1 for the year at $759.563M before reaching $2.788B; watch trailer.
On Jan. 15, 2010 Abert Hughes' and Allen Hughes' The Book of Eli (Warner Bros.) debuts, set in Calif. 30 years after a nuclear apocalypse, starring Denzel Washington as Eli, who carries the last copy of the Bible to a group on Alcatraz Island while defending it with Samurai-style swordwork, running into lizardlike saloon owner Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who lusts after his book; Mila Kunis plays Eli's disciple Solara; too bad, the group starts cranking out copies of the Bible, but only to place alongside copies of the Quran; does $157M box office on a $80M budget; watch trailer.
On Mar. 19, 2010 Miguel Spochnik's Repo Men (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the novel "The Repossession Mambo" by Eric Garcia, set in 2025, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker as Remy and Jake, employees of The Union, who reclaim biomechanical organs from people who miss their payments; does $18.M box office on a $32M budget; watch trailer.
On July 5, 2010 Sean Tretta's The Frankenstein Syndrome (Experiment) debuts, starring Scott Anthony Leet as security guard David Doyle, who is murdered and reanimated, acquiring psychic powers and superhuman strength; watch trailer.
On July 8, 2010 Christopher Nolan's Inception (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dominick "Dom" Cobb, a thief who enters people's dreams and steals ideas from rivals, and is then asked to try planting ideas by energy magnate Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe), with a special assignment involving business magnate Robert Michael Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy); Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Cobb's partner Arthur; Ellen Page plays dreamscape builder Ariadne; Tom Hardy plays Cobb's associate Eames; grosses $825.5M worldwide on a $160M budget; watch trailer.
On Nov. 11, 2010 The Brothers Strouse's Skyline (Rogue) (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Crystal Reed, David Zayas, and Donald Faison in a sci-flick about brain-sucking aliens from outer space invading Earth; does $68.3M box office on a $20M budget; watch trailer; watch trailer.
On Feb. 14, 2011 George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the Philip K. Dick story "Adjustment Team", starring Matt Damon as Brooklyn Congressman David Norris, and Emily Blunt as his babe Elise Sellas, who fight the you know what, headed by Thompson (Terence Stamp), which regulates people's lives; brings in $127.9M on a $5.20M budget; watch trailer.
On Feb. 14, 2011 Greg Mottola's Paul (Relativity Media) (Working Title Films) (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings, two British sci-fi geeks with a big RV who help wisecracking cig-smoking alcohol-swigging ET Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) escape from FBI agents Lorenzo Zoll (Jason Bateman), Agent Haggard (Bill Hader) et al. to his home planet, pleasing nostalgia buffs with numerous sci-film references; Sigourney Weaver plays FBI chief Big Guy; Jeffrey Tambor plays famous sci-fi writer Adam Shadowchild; features a voice cameo by Steven Spielberg; "Who's up for a close encounter?"; does $98M box office on a $40M budget; watch trailer.
On Feb. 26, 2011 Jason Connery's 51, debuts on SyFy Channel, starring Bruce Boxleitner, John Shea, and Jason London, about the USAF allowing some reporters access to Area 51 in Nev. just as vicious shape-shifting Patient Zero busts out; watch trailer.
On Mar. 8, 2011 Neil Burger's Limitless debuts, based on the 2001 novel "The Dark Fields" by Irish novelist Alan Glynn (1960-), starring Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a New York City author suffering from writer's block, who starts taking smart drug NZT-48, which changes him into a stock market wizard and causes him to hook up with business tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) while he begins using 100% of his brainpower all the way to the White House; does $161.8M box office on a $27M budget; watch trailer.
On Mar. 12, 2011 Joe Cornish's Attack the Block (Film4 Productions) (StudioCanal) (UK Film Council) (Screen Gems) debuts, about a teenie street gang in South London on Guy Fawkes Night defending themselves from aliens from outer space, starring John Boyega as Moses, Alex Esmail as Pest, Franz Drameh as Dennis, Leeon Jones as Jerome, and Jodie Whitaker as nurse Samantha Adams; does £4.1M box office on an £8M budget; watch trailer.
On Apr. 1, 2011 Duncan Jones' Source Code debuts, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Capt. Colter Stevens, who becomes a guinea pig for Source Code, designed by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), which allows its user to experience the last 8 min. of another person's life; grosses $147M worldwide; watch trailer.
On June 19, 2011 Falling Skies debuts on TNT-TV for 52 episodes (until Aug. 30, 2015), starring Will Patton as Capt. Dan Weaver, and Noah Wyle as history prof. Tom Mason, 2nd-in-command of the 2nd Mass. Militia Regiment, who help a group of civilians flee Boston after an alien invasion by brown 6-legged Skitters, Mech attack drones, and the Overlords (Espheni).
On July 23, 2011 Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens, based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg set in 1873 debuts, starring Daniel Craig as amnesiac gunslinger Jake Longergan, who stumbles into the Wild West town of Absolution, run by Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), and helps fight off ETs; grosses $100M in the U.S. and Canada, and $174.8M worldwide, on a budget of $163M; watch trailer.
On Oct. 28, 2011 Andrew Niccol's In Time debuts, starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake in a dystopian 2026, where humans are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 and can only live longer by earning it, allowing the rich to get rid of the poor; brings in $173.9M on a $40M budget; watch trailer.
In 2011 James S.A. Corey, alias of U.S. writers Daniel James Abraham (1969-) and Ty Corey Franck pub. Leviathan Wakes, about the Expanse, where the Belters who live in the Asteroid Belt come in conflict with people from Earth and Mars; they follow it with Caliban's War (2012), and Abaddon's Gate (2013).
On Mar. 11, 2011 Jonathan Liebesman's Battle: Los Angeles debuts, starring Aaron Eckhart as Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz, who leads a platoon during a global alien invasion; does $211.8M box office on a $70M budget; watch trailer.
On June 8, 2011 Tulsa, Okla.-born Daniel H. Wilson (1978-) pub. Robopocalypse, about a future society where humans rely on robots, until the superintelligent A.I. named Archos appears, plotting to destroy all humanity. On Feb. 12, 2013 he pub. Amped, about a world where amplified humans are discriminated against. In 2014 he pub. Robogenesis.
On Sept. 2, 2011 Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego's Apollo 18 debuts, a sci-fi horror film about an alleged secret Apollo mission launched in Dec. 1974 that never returned because they encountered hostile alien life on the Moon, causing the program to be terminated; does $25.5M box office on a $5M budget; watch trailer.
In 2011 New York City-born Veronica Roth (1988-) pub. her first novel Divergent, about divergent teenie Beatrice "Tris" Prior in a post-apocalyptic Chicago; followed by "Insurgent" (2012), "Allegiant" (2013). On Mar. 18, 2014 Neil Burger's Divergent, debuts, based on the 2011 novel by Veronica Roth and set in a future dystopian Chicago,l starring Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior, and Theo James as Tobias "Four" Eaton; followed by "Insurgent" (2015), "Allegiant" (2016), "Ascendant" (2017).
On Jan. 20, 2012 Jake Schreier's Robot and Frank debuts, starring Frank Langella as an aging jewel thief whose son buys him a domestic robot, which he teaches to pull heists; watch trailer.
On Mar. 12, 2012 Gary Ross' The Hunger Games, based on the 2008 Suzanne Collins novel debuts, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland in the future post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, where boys and girls ages 12-18 are forced to fight to the death on TV; it brings in $692M on a $78M budget; watch trailer.
On Apr. 3, 2012 Peter Berg's Battleship (Universal) debuts, based on the Hasbro board game, starring Liam Neeson as Adm. Terrance Shane, and Peter MacNicol as the U.S. secy. of defense, who deal with invading aliens from Planet G, who are attracted by a signal sent from Hawaii by NASA; does $303M box office on a $209M budget; watch trailer.
On Apr. 9, 2012 Andrew Stanton's John Carter, a Walt Disney Pictures production based on the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs debuts, starring Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas, and Lynn Collins as Princess Dejah Thoris of Barsoom; grosses $282.8M on a $250M budget; watch trailer.
On May 14, 2012 Barry Sonnenfeld's Men in Black 3 (Columbia Pictures) debuts, starring Will Smith as Agent J, Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, Josh Brolin as the 1969 Agent K, Emma Thompson as Agent O, Alice Eve as 1969 Agent O, and Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal in a time travel adventure centering on the Apollo 11 liftoff; does $624M box office on a $215M budget; watch trailer.
On May 30, 2012 Ridley Scott's Prometheus (20th Cent. Fox), debuts, originally a prequel to "Alien" (1979), about a late 21st cent. spaceship that follows a star map to discover the origins of humanity, starring Noomi Rapace as archeologist Elizabeth Shaw, Michael Fassbender as android David, Charlize Theron as Weyland Corp. employee Meredith Vickers, and Idris Elba as Capt. Janek; Guy Pearce plays egomaniac Weyland Corp. founder Peter Weyland; does $40dM box office on a $130M budget; watch trailer.
On July 2, 2012 Martin Villeneuve's Mars et Avril (Mars and April) debuts, based on the graphic novels of Sid Lee and La Pasteque, starring Caroline Dhavernas as Avril, Jacques Languirand and Paul Ahramani as her lovers Jacob Obus and Arthur, and Robert Lepage as Arthur's father Eugene Spaak; watch trailer.
On Sept. 6, 2012 Rian Johnson's Looper debuts, with the tag line "Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past"; after time travel is invented in 2074 and outlawed, criminal orgs. send those they want killed back into the past with silver bars strapped on, where they are killed by loopers, who get the bars, esp. 25-y.-o. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in 2044 Kansas City; too bad, when Joe retires, his older self (Bruce Willis) is sent back with gold bars strapped on to close the loop; watch trailer.
On Apr. 10, 2013 Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion, set in 2077 debuts, starring Tom Cruise as Tech 49 Jack Harper, one of the last drone repairmen on Earth 60 years after the Scavengers (Scavs) invaded and destroyed the Moon, almost taking over the Earth until nukes defeated them, leaving the planet unlivable, causing the remanant to flee to Titan; too bad, he comes to realize that he's working for the wrong side; grosses $258.8M on a $120M budget; watch trailer.
On May 16, 2013 J.J. Abrams' 3-D Star Trek Into Darkness debuts, with the same cast as the 2009 film, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Cmdr. John Harrison, who turns out to be Khan Noonien Singh, who woke up after 300 years in cryosleep.; watch trailer.
On May 31, 2103 M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth (originally titled "1000 A.E.") debuts, starring Will Smith and his real son Jaden Smith as Gen. Cypher Raige and his young recruit Kitai Raige on Nova Prime 1K years after humanity chucks Earth for new digs; watch trailer.
On May 31, 2013 James DeMonaco's The Purge debuts, set in 2022 U.S., which achieves a low crime rate and 1% unemployment by sponsoring the annual 12-hour Purge starting on June 7 evening, where all criminal laws are suspended by the New Founding Fathers of America; too bad, a stranger (Edwin Hodge) begs to be let into the fortified house of James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), and they wing it from there; does $89.3M box office on a $3M budget, becoming the lowest-budget film to hit the top of the box office charts in 25 years; spawns "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014); watch trailer.
On June 12, 2013 Zack Snyder's 3-D Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring English actor Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannan as Gen. Zod, Laurence Fishburn as Perry White (first African-Am. in the role), Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, and Russell Crowe as Jor-El; does $668M box office on a $225M budget; watch trailer.
On July 1, 2013 Guillerrmo del Toro's Pacific Rim (Warner Bros.) debuts, a sci-fi monster film set in the future, when the gigantic Kaiju monsters begin emerging from the Breach, an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and terrorize the coasts, causing humanity to fight back with Jaegers, gigantic humanoid mechas with "drift compatible" dual pilots joined mentally by a neural bridge; stars Charlie Hunnam as Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket, Rinko Kikuchi as Jaeger pilot Mako Mori, and Idris Elba as commanding officer Stacker Pentecost; does $101.8M U.S. and $411M worldwide box office on a $190M budget; followed by "Pacific Rim: Uprising" (2018); watch trailer.
On July 10, 2013 Edgar Wright's The World's End debuts, starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Eddie Marsan in a sci-fi comedy film about a group of friends who discover an alien invasion during a pub crawl; watch trailer.
On July 29, 2013 Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer (Stillking Films) (CJ Entertainment) debuts, based on the 1982 French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige" by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette about a future world where botched climate engineering causes an ice age, causing the remnant of humanity to live on a massive perpetual motion-powered train that travels on a circumnavigational track, where the elite live in the opulent front cars and the scum live in the back cars under the brutal bootheel of Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton), causing a revolution led by Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) and Gilliam (John Hurt); Ed Harris plays engine creator Minister Wilford; does $86.8M box office on a $40M budget; watch trailer.
On Aug. 9, 2013 Neill Blomkamp's Elysium debuts, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster as downtrodden worker Max Da Costa and Defense Secy. Delcaourt in 2145, when overpopulated Earth is a mess and the rich live on a luxurious space station that is plagued with illegal immigrants; Sharlto Copley plays sleeper agent Kruger; does $286M box office on a $115M budget; watch trailer.
On Aug. 28, 2013 Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity (Heyday Films) (Esperanto Filmoj) (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as NASA astronauts Matt Kowalski and Ryan Stone, who are stranded on the damaged Space Shuttle mission STS-157 at 372 mi. alt., and must engage in hair-raising space acrobatics to make it to the ISS and the Chinese Tiangong space station to make it back to Earth; does $723.2M box office on a $100M budget; "Don't let go"; watch trailer.
On Sept. 19, 2013 James Ward Byrkit's Coherence (Byrkit's dir. debut) debuts, starring Emily Baldoni as Emily, who sights a comet and goes through several bizarre experiences at a Calif. dinner party that are caused by a parallel Universe; watch trailer.
On Oct. 13, 2013 Spike Jonze's Her debuts, starring Joaquin Phoenix as lonely introverted Theodore Twombly, who is about to divorce Catherine (Rooney Mara), and decides to purchase a talking AI OS with a female identity he calls Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), falling in love with her until she decides she's too good for him; "Live. Die. Repeat"; watch trailer.
On Dec. 6, 2013 Ruairi Robinson's The Last Days on Mars (British Film Inst.) debuts, based on the short story "The Animators" by Sydney J. Bounds and shot in Jorden and Elstree Studios, starring Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Johnny Harris et al. as crewmembers of Martian research base Tantalus, who are 19 hours away from the arrival of their rescue spacecraft Aurora when crewmate Marko Petrovic (Goran Kostic) discovers a life form that turns them into zombies; does $24M box office on a $10.6M budget; watch trailer.
On May 28, 2014 Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.) debuts, based on the 2004 novel "All You Need Is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, starring Tom Cruise as Maj. William Cage, Emily Blunt as Pvt. Rita Vrataski, and Bill Paxton as MSgt. Farrell Bartolome, who fight an invasion of W Europe by aliens called Mimics, with Cage getting a dose of alien blood that allows him to loop back in time one day until he hunt down the Omega hive mind; does $370.5M box office on a $178M budget; "Live. Die. Repeat"; watch trailer.
On Sept. 19, 2004 Wes Ball's The Maze Runner (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, based on the 2007 James Dashner novel and filmed in Baton Rouge, La., starring Dylan O'Brien as 16-y.-o. Thomas, who is given amnesia and sent in the Box (a rusty elevator) to the Glade, a clearing inside a gigantic moving stone maze, where 30+ other boys are trapped and have to live like primitives, led by Alby (Aml Ameen), incl. Chuck (Blake Cooper), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Gally (Will Poulter), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), and Ben (Chris Sheffield); each day a door opens into the maze, allowing Runners to be sent in to try and find a way out; at night it closes, and anybody trapped inside is killed by giant spiders called Grievers; after Thomas becomes the first to kill a Griever, the first girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) arrives, helping Thomas to regain his memory and remember that he and her were working for the creators, and that it is all a test, after which they finally find a way out of the maze and end up in the lab, where terrorists have killed all the personnel, and rescue them, taking them outside, revealing that the world is a vast desert with a scorching Sun; does $150M on a $34M budget; watch trailer.
On Oct. 26, 2014 Christopher Nolan's Interstellar (Paramount Pictures) (Warner Bros.) debuts, co-written by Jonathan Nolan, starring atthew McConaughey as Joseph "Coop" Cooper, Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand, David Gyasi as Romilly, and Wes Bentley as Doyle, a crew of astronauts traveling through a wormhole orbiting Saturn provided by 5th Dimensional aliens to find a new habitable planet before Earth's pop. implodes; Jessica Chastain plays Cooper's daughter Murph(y); Michael Caine plays Prof. Brand; John Lithgow plays Donald; Casey Affleck plays Tom Cooper; does $675.1M box office on a $165M budget; watch trailer.
On Mar. 4, 2015 Neill Blomkamp's Chappie (Columbia Pictures) debuts, about an AI law enforcement robot in Johannesburg, starring Sharlton Copley; does $102M box office on a $49M budget; watch trailer.
On June 22, 2015 Alan Taylor's Terminator Genisys (Paramount Pictures) (Terminator #5) debuts, starring aging Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 Terminator (Model 101), and the Guardian, Jason Clarke as John Connor (T-3000), Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, Lee Byung-hun as a T-1000, and Matt Smith as Skynet/T-5000; does $440M box office on a $155M budget; watch trailer.
On June 29, 2015 Peyton Reed's Ant-Man (Walt Disney) debuts, based on the Marvel Comics chars., starring Paul Rudd as cat burglar Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man, who defends Dr. Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) shrinking technology and plots a heist; features Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne; does $454.7M box office on a $130M budget; "Humanity's last hope isn't human"; watch trailer.
On Sept. 11, 2015 Ridley Scott's The Martian (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, based on the 2011 Andy Weir novel, s tarring Matt Damon as Ares III astronaut-botanist Mark Watney, who is presumed dead and left behind on Mars in The Hab, forcing him to farm spuds in his own shit until help arrives; also stars Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chewitel Ejiofor; does $331.5M box office on a $108M budget; watch trailer.
On Nov. 23, 2015 the sci-fi series The Expanse, based on the novels by Daniel Abraham and James S.A. Corey (Ty Franck) debuts on Syfy for ? episodes (until ?), starring Sohreh Aghdashloo as U.N. exec Chrisjen Avasarala, Thomas Jane as police detective Josephus Miller, and Steven Strait as ship's officer Holden, who unravel a conspiracy threatening peace between Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA); watch trailer.
On Dec. 14, 2015 J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney) debuts, set 30 years after "Return of the Jedi", starring John Boyega as Finn AKA Stormtrooper FN-2187, Daisy Ridley as Jakku scavenger Rey, Adam Driver as First Order cmdr. Kylo Ren (AKA Ben Organa, son of Han Solo and Princess/Gen. Leia Organa), Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (w/droid BB-8), Andy Serkis as First Order Supreme Leader Snoke, and Domnhall Gleeson as Gen. Hux, cmdr. of First Order Starkiller Base, and Mark Hamilly as old fart Luke Skywalker; does $2.068B on a $258.6M budget; watch trailer.
On Feb. 8, 2016 Tim Miller's Deadpool (20th Cent. Fox), based on the Marvel Comics char. debuts, starring Ryan Reynolds as ex-special forces op Wade Wilson, who is transformed into an immortal man who heals every disfigurement except his chicharrone-like disfigured face, Morena Baccarin as his gorgeous babe Venessa Carlysle, whom he has to hide from for fear of losing her love, T.J. Miller as Deadpool's best friend and bartender Weasel, Ed Skrein as English "what's my name?" bad guy Francis Freeman AKA Ajax, who created him and whom he wants to kill for it, Gina Carano as Angel Dust, a small babe with the strength of the Hulk, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who can turn into a mini atomic bomb, and Stefan Kapcicic as the voice of Piotr Rasputin AKA Colossus; Leslie Uggams plays Deadpool's roommate Blind Al; does $493M box office on a $58M budget, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film and Marvel comics film (until ?); "Crime's the disease, meet the cure. Okay, not the cure, but more like a topical ointment to reduce the swelling and itch" (Deadpool); "Whatever they did to me made me totally indestructible, and completely unfuckable" (Deadpool); "You may be wondering why the red suit. Well, that's so bad guys don't see me bleed" (Deadpool); "You are haunting. You look like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado" (Weasel); "Oh motherfucker you are hard to look at. (Weasel) Like a testicle with teeth? (Deadpool) You look like Freddy Krueger face-fucked a topographical map of Utah (Weasel)"; "Your right leg is Thanksgiving and your left leg is Christmas. Can I come and visit you between the holidays?" (Deadpool to Vanessa); watch trailer.
On Mar. 8, 2016 Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane (Bad Robot Productions) (Paramount Pictures) debuts, a different take on "Cloverfield" (2008), a psychological sci-fi horror film starring John Goodman as conspiracy nut Howard Stambler, who kidnaps Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and imprisons her in his underground bunker in rural La., claiming that aliens have invaded and it's unsafe to leave; co-stars John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett DeWitt; does $110.2M box office on a $15M budget; watch trailer.
On June 20, 2016 Roland Emmerich's Independence Day: Resurgence (June 20) (TSG Entertainment) (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a sequel to the hit 1996 movie set 20 years afterwards, when they return and of course the U.S. pres. is a woman, Pres. Lanford (Sela Ward); also stars Jeff Goldblum as MIT-educated computer expert David Levinson, Judd Hirsch as his father Julius Levinson, Brent Spinder as Dr. Brakish Okun, Bill Pullman as former U.S. pres. #42 Thomas J. Whitmore, Marilyn, er, Maika Monroe as his daughter Patricia Whitmore, Liam Hemsworth as U.S. pilot Jake Morrison, Jessie Usher as Col. Steven Hiller's stepson Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, and Angelababy as Chinese pilot Rain Lao, and Ng Chin Han as her adoptive father Chinese Gen. Jiang Lao; too bad, the aliens die way too easily at the end, as if they ran out of funds, ruining the movie?; does $389.7M box office on a $165M budget; watch trailer.
On Sept. 1, 2016 Denis Willenueve's Arrival (Paramount Pictures) debuts, written by Eric Heisserer based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, starring Amy Adams as cunning linguist Louise Banks, Jeremy Renner as physicist ian Donnelly, Forest Whitaker as U.S. Army Col. Weber, Tzi Ma as Gen. Shang, and Michael Stuhibarg as Agent Halpern, who must deal with multiple giant ET spacecraft all over the Earth filled with giant mute heptapods, having to decide whether to shoot 'em or greet 'em; features "On the Nature of Daylight" by composer Max Richter; does $116M box office on a $47M budget; watch trailer.
On Sept. 9, 2016 Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal (Voltage Pictures) (Brightlight Pictures) debuts, starring Anne Hathaway as unemployed alcoholic New York City writer Gloria, who can cause a giant reptilian kaiju to appear in Seoul, South Korea if she walks through a playground drunk at 8:05 a.m., and whose boyfriend Oscar can make a giant robot appear, which he uses to terrorize the pop. while she tries to stop him; does $3M box office on a $15M budget; watch trailer.
On July 17, 2017 Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (EuropaCorp) (Lionsgate) debuts, a French 3-D scifi adventure film based on the comics series "Valerian and Laureline" by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres, starring Dane DeHaan as Maj. Valerian, and Cara Delevingne as Sgt. Laureline, who work for a special police div. on Alpha (formerly the ISS) in the 28th cent., and are sent by their commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) on a mission to find the Mul Converter that can replicate anything; co-stars Rihanna as shapeshifting entertainer Bubble, Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, and Herbie Hancock as the defense minister; does $211.3M worldwide box office on a $209M budget, becoming the most expensive Euro and independent film made to date (until ?); watch trailer.
On Oct. 3, 2017 Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring Ryan Gosling as Blade Runner Officer K, who tries to locate missing Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to save the world; does $258.2M box office on a $185M budget; watch trailer.
On Dec. 9, 2017 Rian Johnson's Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Lucasfilm Ltd.) (Walt Disney Studios) debuts, starring Mark Hamill as old fart hermit Luke Skywalker, who has given up on the Jedis until Rey (Daisy Ridley) talks him into making her one to help her save the failing Resistance that's being decimated by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order; Carrie Fisher plays aging Princess Gen. Leia Organa in her last film appearance before her Dec. 27, 2016 death; introduces Kelly Marie Tran as Resistance worker, Rose Tico as a sop to please the huge Chinese audience?; Laura Dern plays Resistance vice-dm. Amilyn Holdo; Benicio del Toro plays underworld codebreaker DJ; has it all, reviving the franchise?; watch trailer.
On Feb. 13, 2018 Alex Garland's Annihilation (Paramount Pictures) debuts, based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer about eerie aliens who create an environmental disaster zone, starring Natalie Portman as Lena the Biologist, Jennifer Jason Leigh as the Psychologist, Gina Rodriguez as the Anthropologist Anya Thorenson, Tessa Thompson as the Surveyor, Tuva Novotny as the Linguist, and Oscar Isaac as Lena's husband; does $43.1M box office on a $55M budget; watch trailer.