Friday, 31 July 2020

"EXPROPRIATION BOOK 1 THE ENCOUNTER" by DEREK GONEKE



What happens when….
  • A group of campers reluctantly go on a work retreat in Colorado’s national park?
  • The group has a strange encounter with something seemingly out of this world?
  • The secret service becomes involved?
  • A full investigation is put together consisting of a team of military and civilian personnel?
  • The future of the planet could be at stake?
Jonah is a science fiction fan and aspiring writer who together with his work colleagues is on a team-building work camp in the Colorado national park miles away from the mod cons of life. Life for Jonah and his work mates will never be the same again when they have a strange intergalactic encounter in the wilderness. It will prove to be the start of a journey to expose an alien mystery while dealing with issues and matters of a more personal nature. 

Among those accompanying Jonah on this perilous journey are; 
  • Trina, an assistant to a meteoriticist and who Jonah gets on well with.
  • Meteoriticist, Dr. Lena Bhatt who investigates unusual creatures from around the world.
  • Sergeant Derek Rivers, sceptic with a marriage that’s falling apart.
  • A disgraced ex-soldier Ezra who seeks the assistance of Sergeant Derek Rivers.
Derek Goneke's lively and briskly-paced story centres on a dangerous and deadly search for a UFO requiring the characters to fit together the pieces of a puzzle in which they try to uncover the strange mystery unfolding before them, while discovering that not everything or everyone is as they appear to be.

“Expropriation: The Encounter” would definitely appeal to young adult readers with its contemporary style, interesting, flawed and memorable characters along with a good mix of imaginative sci-fi, mystery and suspense. The story could readily be adapted into an engaging TV or streaming service series.

“Expropriation: The Encounter” is definitely worth a read.



Link to Expropriation: The Encounter

Monday, 20 July 2020

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci-Fi Films: “When Worlds Collide” (1933) by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer



By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3574871



Hello readers! Good to be back after a bit of a break from all matters blogging. I thought I might start off with a novel I have just finished reading which I hope you will enjoy if you haven't read it yet.......

Spoilers follow below......

“When Worlds Collide” is a 1933 science fiction novel co-written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. It was first published as a six-part monthly serial (September 1932 to February 1933) in Blue Book magazine, illustrated by Joseph Franké.

The story was adapted into a film in 1951 with George Pal’s sci-fi classic version of “When Worlds Collide” which is featured in this blog. The film was produced by George Pal and directed by Rudolph Maté.

In both the book and film versions, a select group of humans with superior intelligence are to board a spaceship constructed to escape the earth which is destined to be obliterated by an oncoming planet. If they survive the initial escape into space, the remnants of the human race will settle on another planet where they will found a human colony.

In Wylie and Palmer’s book, Sven Bronson, a Swedish astronomer working at an observatory in South Africa, discovers a pair of rogue planets, Bronson Alpha and Bronson Beta,both of which will soon enter the Solar System.

It is calculated that in eight months’ time, the two intruding planets will pass close enough to cause catastrophic damage to the Earth. After they swing around the sun sixteen months later, the larger of the planets, a gas giant called Bronson Alpha will return to destroy the Earth before it leaves. On the other hand, Bronson Beta which appears to be more Earth-like and potentially habitable will remain and achieve a stable orbit. It is on Bronson Beta that hopes for the continued survival of the human race will depend.

Cole Hendron leads a group of scientists who work desperately to build an atomic rocket that will contain a select number of people, together with animals and equipment and transport them to Bronson Beta before the earth is destroyed. It turns out that only 100 out of about thousand people Hendron had recruited will be able to take up places on the rocket. It seems also that other nations have similar projects underway.

Hendron is assisted by his daughter Eve who forms a relationship with young business man, Tony Drake and a kind of complicated love triangle develops between Tony, Eve and Ransdell during the course of the story. Not to mention the complicated moral and ethical questions that arise with having to start civilisation from scratch on a new planet with a limited number of people. Monogamous love relationships and pairings may not suit the new circumstances!

In preparation for the first encounter, vulnerable coastal regions in the US are evacuated along with the “planting vast areas of land in crops.” When the expected planetary encounter occurs, massive tidal waves sweep inland and the earth is wracked by tremendous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes accompanied by raging wild weather. The images conjured up by the descrption of the upheavals and destruction are more vivid than what appeared on screen in the film version.To add cosmic insult to injury, Bronson Alpha approaches close to and destroys the Moon.

Meanwhile, the US President has taken up residence in Hutchinson, Kansas, which has become the temporary capital of the United States. Massive geological transformations have occurred with flooding of the entire Southeast region along with the Great Lakes emptying into the Saint Lawrence region, and Connecticut turning into an island archipelago.

South African pilot David Ransdell and two comrades use a plane to survey the scenes of destruction. During a battle with a desperate mob, the three intrepid souls are wounded but are able to bring back to the encampment a sample of a rare and essential heat-resistant metal which can be used to make rocket tubes capable of withstanding the heat of the atomic exhaust.

With just five months to go before the final encounter, a desperate battle erupts between attacking mobs and those defending the camp. Over half of Hendron's people perish in the assault before they use the rocket in a novel way to defeat their assailants. Look for the wonderfully ‘surreal’ description of the man on horseback at the end of the battle! The sheer desperation involved in the fight for survival is very effectively conveyed in the story.

With the newly acquired metal helping to solve the rocket tube heating problem, a second, larger ship is constructed that can carry all of the remaining survivors in Hendron’s camp.

With the end of the earth imminent, both rockets manage to take off but lose contact with each other. Other ships also manage to launch from Europe but the French rocket is seen to explode in the upper atmosphere.

The first rocket rocket carrying Hendron makes a successful landing on Bronson Beta, which appears to be habitable. It is not known however if anyone else had made it.


************




By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11348604


The 1951 Technicolour Paramount Pictures film version “When Worlds Collide” starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, and John Hoyt is as has already been noted based on the 1933 science fiction novel of the same name.

The film version tells the story of the Earth being destined to be destroyed by a rogue star called Bellus and of a space ark being constructed to transport a select group of men and women to Bellus' single planet, “Zyra.”

South African Pilot David Randall is given the task of flying top-secret photographs from South African astronomer Dr. Emery Bronson to Dr. Cole Hendron in the United States. Hendron, with the assistance of his daughter Joyce, confirms the undeniable fact that a rogue star named Bellus is on a collision course with Earth.

Hendron warns the United Nations that the world will end in eight months’ time and makes an appeal for the immediate construction of "arks" to transport a select few to Zyra, the planet orbiting Bellus. Despite it being the only hope for the human race to be be saved from extinction, Hendron’s claims and appeal are rejected by the UN delegates.

Wealthy benefactors step in to arrange for a lease on a former proving ground to build an ark while wheelchair-bound business magnate Sidney Stanton offers to finance the construction of the ark on condition that he select the passengers. Hendron insists he only has the right to buy a seat aboard the ark. The ugly and selfish nature of the Stanton character is focussed on to a greater extent in the film version as opposed to the rather brief treatment of a similar somewhat mentally warped and deranged character in the book.

Joyce convinces her father into hanging on to the intrepid Randall (whom she seems to take a liking to), much to the displeasure of her boyfriend, Dr. Tony Drake.

As Bellus inexorably approaches, it becomes evident that Hendron was right all along. Everyone gets into gear with spaceships being constructed in other nations, martial law being declared and populations in coastal regions being evacuated to inland cities.

When Zyra approaches first, massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tidal waves occur around the world. Later, Drake and Randall drop off supplies to people in the surrounding area by helicopter. A moment of truth arrives when Randall gets off the copter to rescue a little boy stranded on a rooftop in a flooded area. Drake thinks about resolving the eternal love tirangle situation by flying away, but being the good fella he is decides to return. What a guy!

With a constant, urgent and insistent countdown to destiny, the rocketship is loaded with food, equipment, necessary provisions and animals. The passengers are to be then selected by lottery, with places already reserved for Hendron, Stanton, Joyce, Drake, pilot Dr. George Frey, Randall and the young boy who was rescued. This brings the number of passengers to 45.

Randall, believing he lacks any useful skills for starting civilisation anew, pretends to draw a lottery number, but our “what a guy” Drake informs Randall that Frey has a heart condition and that if he doesn’t manage to survive the blackout during lift-off, Randall will be needed as the co-pilot. What a guy!

Meanwhile, the stone-hearted cynical Stanton has been busily stock-piling guns knowing what measures the desperate lottery losers would be likely to take to save themselves. A student of human nature he fancies himself to be no doubt!

Perhaps….but we see then witness a young man who decides to turn in his winning number because the one he loves was not selected. Suddenly, Stanton's brow-beaten constantly demeaned assistant, Ferris claims the number at gunpoint, but he is then shot dead by Stanton.

Danger for the whole enterprise lies closer to hand when just prior to take-off a desperate mob of lottery losers riot. Using Stanton's weapons, they try to force their way aboard the ark.

In another of those “what a guy” moments, Hendron remains with Stanton outside the ship when it launches so that it will consume less fuel on the journey to Zyra. Besides, he feels that starting a new civilisation should be a task for the young. Impelled by sheer desperation, Stanton manages to stand up and futilely attempts to walk toward and board the departing spaceship.

Unlike the survivors in the book’s story, the survivors in the film verson are rendered unconscious by the g-force of acceleration and fail to witness Earth's destruction. In the book version, the ark’s occupants watch on “as the nebulous atmosphere of Bronson Alpha touched the air of earth and then the very earth bulged.”

Randall comes to and sees Dr. Frey relatively chipper, awake and piloting the ship. He then realizes “what a guy” Drake truly is. But his piloting skills are soon required since the fuel is running low as the ship enters Zyra's atmosphere. Randall manages to glide the ship to a safe landing on the surface of Zyra.

Zyra does indeed turn out to be habitable. We close with David, Randall and Joyce walking hand-in-hand down the ramp as a new day dawns on a very ordinarily painted representation. At least in the novel there was an actual road upon which they walked and indications of a previous civilisation.

Please feel free to read my review of the film, “When Worlds Collide.”

As to the novel? Well, I highly recommend that you read it. It’s a very lively well-paced writtten story but the style of language along with certain references are definitely from a by-gone era. I know that the collective heads of the PC Brigade will explode upon reading about Kyto the “little Jap” manservant of Drake. Then there’s the matter of eugenics with the selection of suitable candidates for the journey to Bonson Beta. Let’s not even get started on the portrayal and role of women despite the inclusion of a quite for the time strong female character in Eve. I can just see idiots trying to slap disclaimers all over the novel or airbrush or burn it out of existence!

What you do get in the novel is strong sense of what the characters are like and the relationships they have with each other. Also, the descriptions of the destruction caused to the Earth by the approach of Bonson Alpha, along with the desperate struggle with the invading mobs upon the encampment were very detailed and vivid. All this and more in a rollicking good almost ‘first of its kind’ story.





It’s worth considering the recent theory that a planet given the name of Theia collided with the early Earth around 4.5 billion years ago, with the resulting debris gathering to form our Moon.

It is believed that Theia was about the size of Mars and that it might have formed in the outer Solar System and that much of Earth's water originated on Theia.

It’s also worth mentioning that a book called “Worlds in Collision” by Immanuel Velikovsky was published in 1950. Velikovsky suggests that around the 15th century BC, the planet Venus was ejected from Jupiter as a comet or comet-like object and passed near Earth!

Finally, many readers will recall the events of July 1994 when fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter over a period of several days, providing the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects.


I would definitely put “When Worlds Collide” (1933) by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balme on your sci-fi reading bucket list and then follow it up with a viewing of the film version.

The sequel,” After Worlds Collide,” deals with the fate of the survivors on Bronson Beta.


PDF LINK

Full Film Link

©Chris Christopoulos 2020

Sunday, 14 June 2020

“Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures,” by Joe Jordan




Title: Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures
Author: Joe Jordan
Contributors: Gavin MacLeod, Douglas E. Wise
Edition: illustrated 

Publisher: BearManor Media, 2020
ISBN: 1629335363, 978-1629335360
Length: 506 pages


“Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures,” by Joe Jordan is a product of meticulous research by the author, covering a period of over fifty years. It contains detailed plot synopses and commentary of many of Robert Wise’s memorable and important films. 


By photo by Alan Light, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2227156

Robert Wise began his film career at RKO as a sound and music editor. He later became more involved in editing film content and went to work for RKO film editor William "Billy" Hamilton. At RKO, Wise worked with Orson Welles on “Citizen Kane” (1941) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Film Editing.


In his role as producer and director, Wise aimed for establishing a connection to the viewer and had a reputation for a strong work ethic, attention to detail, budgetary thrift and well-researched preparation for a film. 


Of relevance to this blog is Robert Wise’s film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, a classic science fiction masterpiece that warned about the dangers of atomic warfare.

Other films of Robert Wise that have stayed in my mind over the years are;


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19705323 

  • "Startrek The Motion Picture" (1979)
Joe Jordan's book includes over twenty interviews, as well as presenting a comprehensive analysis of Robert Wise’s work. 


I am sure that after reading this fascinating tribute, you’ll come away with an even greater appreciation of this two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Director – the legendary Robert Wise. 



*************

A Tribute

Rosetta and Joe Jordan

Joe's Robert Wise book is dedicated to his father and it is very sad to note the recent sudden passing of his father.

Joe's mother, Rosetta preceded her husband in death by 37 years. He missed her so much and never remarried.

Joe has managed to find comfort in knowing that both of his parents are finally together again. It is also of comfort to Joe that his father was able to enjoy the revised edition of his son's book prior to his passing.

According to Joe, "My father was so excited to receive his copy of the Robert Wise book. You should have seen the look on his face when he found out the book is dedicated to him. My father was always a big fan of The Sand Pebbles," (a 1962 novel by American author Richard McKenna about a Yangtze River gunboat and its crew in 1926. In 1966 it was used as the storyline for a movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen and directed by none other than Robert Wise.)

Our condolences go out to Joe for his loss along with our best wishes and kind thoughts. I'm certain his father would have been very proud of Joe.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci-Fi Films: "The Day Of The Triffids" (1951)




Steve Sekely’s 1962 film version of Wyndham’s novel is perhaps the best known with other superior adaptations that followed with the 1981 and 2009 BBC TV mini-series. Each seems to approach the story from the standpoint of the prevalent concerns and preoccupations of the era in which they were made.

The 1962 film version seems to opt for a more sci-fi / horror angle at the expense of Wyndham’s story with its backdrop Cold War considerations and fears along with philosophical discussions of the nature of human civilisation.

John Wyndham’s classic science fiction story opens with a man called Bill waking up in a hospital room to find the world he once knew utterly transformed - a world gone blind overnight!

The opening chapter contains an atmosphere of dread as Bill senses without the aid of his sight that the outside world sounds more like a quiet Sunday rather than a typical Wednesday. There is an overwhelming feeling of something not at all being quite right.

With only his sense of hearing to guide him, the striking of the clock indicates that it is now nine o’clock. However, the time his bandages were supposed to be removed was at eight – what on earth has been happening in the meantime?

Unknown to Bill, while he had been asleep after his eye operation, a cosmic event caused the majority of the population who witnessed it to go blind.

Added to the horror of mass blindness is the danger posed to humanity in the form of a plant known as a triffid.

Humanity in its complacency, however did not count on a cosmic event causing global mass blindness and providing the triffids with an opportunity to escape their confinement and become THE apex predator with human beings becoming their prey. For the triffids you see, cannot see but are drawn to noise and therefore their prey cannot avoid them for long! 



What of are some of the changes and differences between the book and the movie?


Wyndham’s Novel
Sekely’s 1962 Film Version
The triffids had been contained and were farmed to produce a vegetable oil substitute and help to ease the global food supply problem.
The light show of the meteor shower has caused the triffids and the plants have somehow been mutated by the event.
Bill is a biologist and triffid expert who had been hit by a triffid.
Bill is a merchant navy officer, who missed the meteor shower because he was in hospital with his eyes bandaged after an operation
Central female character is part of the important love story.
Central female character reduced to screaming damsel in distress.
Josella is saved by Bill from being beaten in the middle of the street.
-Modern woman for the times.
-Unmarried by choice.
-Author of ‘Sex Is My Adventure.'
-Gained a notorious ‘reputation.’
-Self-reliant
Appearance of Susan later in the story.
No Josella! Just a screaming biologist, Karen!
Crowd panic, chaos in the streets with loss of sight and reason. Few traffic accidents due to suddeness of blindness overnight.
Car and bus crashes and wreckage along with train and pane crashes.
Greater sense of isolation and no communication with the rest of the world.
Bill hops across to France and Spain and radios seem to still function
Coker kidnaps Bill and Josella to help with his plan to look after and feed the blind. His plan falls apart when a sickness starts killing off people in London.
Coker is a British tourist in France.


What individuals and a society will do and the choices that are made in the face of a calamity is a central feature of Wyndham’s story. So too is the question of the value of our cherished moral and social belief systems when put to the test by the sheer necessity of survival. Placed along side Windham’s novel, the film version is little more than a disappointing monster movie with ordinary special effects and little substance. Of greater interest are the subsequent TV mini-series versions and their respective treatments of Wyndham’s story.



*************** 


I wonder how long it will be before Wyndham’s story along with the various screen adaptations are consigned to the bonfire by the PC lunatic brigade on the grounds of insufficient minority representation, gender discrimination or cruelty against vegetation! I’m off now to enjoy my copy of the film classic, “Gone With The Wind” while I can before the final Fahrenheit 451 solution is applied.

I'll try not to knock over any statues or monuments on my way by being dragged along by swirling currents in a sea of slogans spewing out of mindless moronic mob mouths whose sense and knowledge of history extends as far back as this morning's breakfast. I may need, however to dodge any microbial passengers that have hitched a ride on them!


Full Movie



Audio drama link

Epub / PDF Link

Audiobook Link






©Chris Christopoulos 2020


Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Invasion 2020


Once we were taught to watch the skies
For saucers, Commies and other bad guys.
Before we slept, we peeked under our beds
To check if there might be hiding any Reds.

Our dreams and screens filled with monsters
And threats from a host of alien creatures.
Little did we know that we had most to fear
From Invisible Invaders that live right here! 















That they may survive, they invade our bodies;
Among the hosts though, so many casualities.
They think they know what makes us tick,
And so they make use of many a trick.

We prime primates that infest this planet
Love to chitter, chatter and congregate;
A perfect playground for unseen intruders
To wreak their havoc like lawless looters.

They invade our lives almost casually,
Slipping unseen past our complacency,
As we supply the highways and arteries
Which they use to spread to us with ease.

They know and exploit our every weakness
While we flail about in rising tides of sickness,
Pointing fingers of blame in every direction,
And hiding behind lies, denial and deflection.

Many poor souls are forced to fight for each breath,
“I can’t breathe!” perhaps their last gasp before death,
As if succumbing to a cruel and callous use of force
From one devoid of compassion and remorse.

Unseen Invaders force us into lockdown isolation,
While science seeks out the holy grail solution,
And we take solace in thinking, 'we’re in this together,'
But it seems as if we’re victims of divide and conquer.

They count on our staying power being short,
As battles for survival are being fought,
As jobs and livelihoods both disappear,
And people resent having to live in fear.

Throwing off the shackles of restrictions,
People quickly fly forth in many directions,
Taking with them their invisible passengers,
And no longer heeding safety messages.

Without leadership’s lifeline of unity,
The breath of life is crushed brutally
Under the oppressive weight of the knee
Of injustice, iniquity and inequality.

The Invaders rejoice as we fumble and flail about
Clutching toilet paper and TVs and sing and shout,
“My precious! My precious!” Then off we go to romp
In the morass and mire that replaced the swamp.

As cities burn and folks are beaten and shot,
Many will serve as sacrifices to ease our lot,
Before the altar of our god – the Economy,
While lay fools preach their next sermon on Virology.

There are those souls though throughout history’s
Wars and plagues who have achieved victories
In the face of disaster, doom and despair
With acts of selfless kindness and care.
 


By Fibonacci Blue - https://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/49939836178/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90686864







There are also those brave enough to take a stand,
When disaster strikes and with their fellows band
Together, not to beg, petition or grovel, but to demand
Their just and equal rights as free people in a free land.

The Invasion of 2020 has cast a light on who we are
And illuminated the fact that all lives matter,
And that the world may never be the same again,
When finally we flatten the curve of inequity and pain.


©Chris Christopoulos 2020

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Covid–19 & The Spread Of Future Fears

While the two superpowers snipe childishly at each other, while the number of global infections from the Coronavirus climbs into the millions and while more areas around the world are set to open up and relax restrictions, minds are beginning to turn towards what life will be like post-Covid19 Pandemic.




It almost feels normal now to see people wearing face masks, having temperature checks and undergoing testing for the virus. It seems that people are prepared to trade some of their individual freedoms and personal privacy in exchange for improved community health and safety. For instance, many are more than willing to have apps downloaded to their smart phones allowing them to communicate with other phones of people they engage with or pass by via Bluetooth. Data involving such encounters are then stored thereby enabling health authorities to determine if an individual has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to the presence of Covid-19, where the contact took place and for how long. One would hope that there are laws governing the use of such technology in terms of access to the data and its use. 


On the surface, such technologies seem to be a useful tool for the containment and eventual eradication of the viral pandemic. What is worrying though are other more dubious uses that such tracking technologies are put to by authoritarian regimes that do not respect their citizens’ rights and liberties.

In previous posts I have covered some of the ways in which our personal freedoms and liberties are being eroded by both authoritarian governments and by so-called liberal democratic governments. From the use of physical hard-copy forms of identification, to personal data stored on credit cards and mobile phones, to surveillance and monitoring via CCTV cameras, to government and corporate access to personal data from our internet use, to facial recognition technology and more recently to bio-metric identification technology such as retinal and palm print scanning.

Much of the above, once the province of science-fiction has crept into our way of life quite stealthily but even more disturbingly with our willing compliance. We have simply allowed this intrusion into our lives to happen often for the sake of personal convenience. It has become such a part of our lives now so much so that we find we are unable to function in our society unless we are prepared to hand over control of much of our personal lives to corporate, government and bureaucratic entities.





Not only is it becoming a normalized part of our lives, it is actually becoming gradually integrated within each of us – literally! The Covid-19 pandemic threat may provide the above entities the means and justification to increase their level of intrusion into and invasion of our very minds and bodies in order to better control us and ensure compliance. Sounds like science fiction?

Well, don’t be surprised if you find yourself fronting up to your workplace and having to undergo regular thermal imaging temperature checks. Don’t be shocked if you find yourself excluded from services and activities unless you provide proof of negative medical test results for the presence of Covid-19 or other medical conditions. 


I remember a time when the only people who checked my temperature were my mother or the local doctor who actually made house calls. Soon we might be having businesses, corporations and retailers assessing and administering all kinds of medical checks to people. Would this be desirable?


What about when working from home becomes more widespread? Have no fear, for your employer will likely have recourse to remote monitoring of your activities! He, she or gender neutral will be able to monitor your key-strokes, your mood during Windows Meeting sessions, your location, your level of productivity, your emails and certain key words and phrases that provide vital information about you and your state of mind. Failure to comply may cost you your job or that promotion you are after.

Still sounds like science fiction? All this capability and more exists. All that’s needed is the justification to put it to use. I just hope that we haven’t found that justification in the form of a pandemic. Even worse, it may turn out to be a future consequence of it, one that we once again will wind up sleep-walking our way into and one like the current pandemic we cannot honestly say is totally unforeseen!

************ 
Speaking of technological intrusion into our bodies, my next post will feature the 1966 sci-fi classic, Fantastic Voyage in which a scientist develops a blood clot in his brain. The only way to save him is by using the very technology he developed that can miniaturize matter, a technique that will allow a team of experts to enter his body to help him.

Stay tuned also for a post featuring a recommended book for film buffs, and not just lovers of science fiction.

I've been a bit slow lately while playing at being handy man (badly), wrestling with technology that doesn't like me, avoiding electrocution while repairing a vintage radio and trying to switch over to our country's new national broadband network.

See you soon! Stay healthy and safe!





©Chris Christopoulos 2020

Monday, 4 May 2020

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci-Fi Films: 'The Body Snatchers' by Jack Finney (1955)



In the small Californian town of Santa Mira, medical doctor, Miles Bennell begins to notice that something is not quite right with its inhabitants. On the surface, the good folks of Santa Mira seem to be themselves, but in ways that Miles can’t put his finger on they are definitely not themselves.

Miles, together with his high school sweet heart and returning divorcée, Becky Driscoll and good friends Jack and Teddy Belicec, soon uncover an alien plot involving an invasion of this slice of small town America. They discover that people are being copied by means of large pods and replaced with duplicates who appear and behave just like them but who display no discernible human emotions and seem to lack human spirit and soul.


Can the invasion be prevented before it spreads beyond the borders of Santa Mira?

Can the surviving humans of this town resist the invaders and avoid the fate of their fellow townsfolk? 

Will human individuality be crushed by the forces of alien conformity?



Trailer


Spoilers follow below…..

'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' (1956)

Broadly speaking, there isn’t a great deal of difference between Finney’s novel and Don Siegel’s screen adaptation. One difference involves the Belicecs and Becky who in the film version succumb to the alien pod plot.

Unlike the start of Finney’s book, the film opens with Miles in a hospital emergency room. His appearance is disheveled and his behavior suggests insanity, even more so considering his wild story concerning an alien invasion. The tale he tells doctor Hill is the subject of the film’s plot.

The ending is also different in the film version whereby Miles (the lone voice of truth) is seen desperately flailing about in the middle of the night on a highway screaming at oncoming traffic and directly at the audience, "They're already here! You're next! YOU'RE NEXT!"

Back in the hospital emergency room, evidence comes to light of a crashed truck carrying what appears to look like giant seed pods. Upon hearing this, doctor Hill leaps into action and notifies the FBI who no doubt will get to the bottom of all this and all will be well soon. A relieved Miles has finally managed to persuade the doctors who were about to have him committed that his story is true.


***********************

Finney’s story and the original film adaptation have been viewed by many as being a commentary on Communism, the conformity of 1950s America or even on the paranoia of McCarthyism at the time.

On a more universal level, the story can be viewed as being an examination of the loss of human individuality, sense of identity, and all that constitutes who we are as individuals.

Whatever the case, Finney’s story in whatever format it appears maintains its relevance as it can be viewed through the unique lens of any particular era thereby giving it an enduring quality.

PDF LINK

Audiobook

Film Blog Post



"They're already here! 
You're next! "

With the current Carona-19 global pandemic, you will have already been a part of or at least viewed many Zoom, Facetime or Skype video chats.

Have you noticed what's been going on in the background of so many of them? It would suggest that the alien body snatchers have returned to Earth and taken over the bodies of humans in lockdown, forcing them to feature bookcases in the background of their video sessions!

My guess is that these aliens in their pursuit of trying to imitate our emotions, have somehow turned into anally-retentive entities with a weird obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

How else to explain the plethora of coloured-coded books arranged according to size and other strange criteria? What is it with that?? Could it be that........

"YOU'RE NEXT!" 


Note: Check out the Double Feature Page for a new collection of classic sci-fi films featuring: 

UNINVITED GUESTS FROM SPACE!!!