Monday, 30 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Forbidden Planet” by W. J. Stuart

To begin with, the film Forbidden Planet (1956) was actually loosely based on William Shakespeare's, The Tempest. This sci-fi classic film in turn went on to influence other films and series of that genre including Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a play that is set on an island near Italy where Prospero, who had at one time been Duke of Milan, and his beautiful daughter, Miranda, live with a spirit servant called Ariel and a strange wildman called Caliban who is Prospero’s slave. Prospero uses magic to conjure a storm and torment the survivors of a shipwreck, including the King of Naples and Prospero's treacherous brother, Antonio. Prospero's slave, Caliban, plots to rid himself of his master, but is thwarted by Ariel.

Magic, betrayal, love, forgiveness and repentance are among the main themes dealt with in The Tempest.

The sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet (1956) is set in the year 2371 on a desert planet called Altair-4, where the crew of the Cruiser C-57-D arrives on a rescue mission and to determine the fate of a group of scientists who had been sent there decades earlier. When Commander John J. Adams and his crew arrive, they discover only two people: Dr. Morbius and his daughter, Altaira who was born on the remote planet. The questions that need to be answered are:

What happened on Altair IV? 
Why is it that only Morbius and Altaira are the sole survivors?

Shortly before the film was released, a novelization appeared that was written by W. J. Stuart (Philip MacDonald being the pseudonym he wrote under). His story largely follows the events and characters depicted in the film with some minot alterations and additions. In the novel, the story is told from the point of view of three different narrators: Dr. Ostrow, Commander Adams, and Dr. Morbius.

The novel goes into far greater detail concerning the mysterious Krell and their disappearance. In fact, before viewing the film, it would pay to read the account in Stuart’s novel of Morbius’s repeated exposure to the Krell's brain boosting technology and how it ultimately led to his and the Krell’s own downfall, both of whom did not take into account the role played by their imperfections and primitive base drives.

One of the added story elements that was not present in the film involves Dr. Ostrow’s dissection of one of the dead Earth-type little primates whose internal structure suggests that it had never been alive in the way we would understand a biological organism as being alive. This creature along with the other animals are therefore conscious creations or constructs of Dr. Morbius using Krell technology that can project matter in any form. And what of the power to create life? Can such hubris and arrogance be permitted? - “We are, after all, not God."

Movie clip: Id Monster

Forbidden Planet PDF Download

Forbidden Planet Radio Play Download

Forbidden Planet Full Movie Link

Blog Post Movie Review

I’ll have the last of the sci-fi films from the 1950s for your consideration early in the new year. After that, I’ll present a fairly random selection of what I consider to be among the best classic sci-fi films from the 1960s – 1980’s. They wont be dealt with in any particular chronological order and quite a few films will not be included at all.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and the very best for 2020! Thank you for stopping by this blog and I sincerely hope you managed to find something of interest.

A special thought and prayer for those people here in Australia who are enduring horrible drought conditions and bush-fires. May things turn around for the better as soon as possible!

Donations to help individuals and communities affected by bush/wild fires and the ongoing drought can be made at:

©Chris Christopoulos 2019

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Deadly City” by Paul W. Fairman (1916 – 1977)

Paul Warren Fairman (1916-1977) was an editor and writer in a variety of genres under his own name and under pseudonyms. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic.

Fairman's science fiction short story"Deadly City" appeared in the March 1953 issue of Worlds of Science Fiction: If, under Fairman's "Ivar Jorgensen" pseudonym and was made into the motion picture, Target Earth which is features in this blog.

Target Earth (1954) is set in an eerily deserted Chicago and involves a small group of people who have been overlooked during a mass evacuation of "the city that never sleeps." The evacuation has occurred due to a sudden invasion by hostile robots (well, at least one in the film!) possibly from the planet Venus.

Fairman’s story, however focuses less on the alien invasion aspect than the film does. There are no robot invaders. Instead, the invaders are glimpsed once and only from a distance. The printed story is also far more gritty, noirish and brutal than the film version.

A new Roger Corman double feature on the Classic Sci-Fi Double Feature Page.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Future Fears For Now (A Poem)

The following poem was inspired somewhat by the film, The Tingler which was the subject of my last post. I borrowed the idea of “fear” and tried to consider the almost pervasive, paralyzing and distorting effect that fear can have on individuals and on our modern society now and into the future.

The poem kind of just fell into my head after I finished writing about The Tingler, and I quickly wrote it down as it occurred to me so it reads a bit like stream of consciousness.

Anyway, for what it’s worth…..

Future Fears For Now 

Your eyes suddenly snap open in terror
from an image burned into your mind:
an after glow of last night’s nightmare
of you sitting and sweating at a white table
under a searing ultaviolet sky,
playing polka on the lawns of the White House
with three silhouettes, one of whom shuffles
giant cards from a marked deck.
Texas hold ‘em, winner takes all,
but no, not you - you knew you had to fold
for the game was rigged in favour
of the player with the highest hand.
And now you fearfully ooze out of bed
to face a day-long fearful future
itemized by your AI assistant
who despite “her” faux-feminine ways
really doesn’t give a shit about you
‘coz the chatty cunt can’t.
On command “she” switches on the lights
and tells you about today’s weather
‘coz you’re far too scared to look outside
while the AI toothbrush brushes
your teeth at your precise preferred angle
‘coz you’re far too frightened to do it yourself.
Thank God for your smart devices
as you unwittingly continue to devolve:
driver-less and aimless without a destination;
autonomous while robbed of real autonomy;
connected but disconnected from life;
freed up to obey your device’s insistent
clamoring for your time and attention -
Emails, tweets, texts and notifications -
while the world slides by tinted windows
and you fail to notice a patch of blue sky
before the tallest smart building in the world
windshield wipes it away as it rains
to be replaced by a shadow cast over a past
psychic link to the earth and the universe
long since severed and replaced by junk piles
of mass-produced obsolescence and infant fears
of one hot day being hailed as a heatwave
while failing to feel the steadily rising fever
of the being stirring beneath your feet
and the march of the times that are a-changin,
of the earth’s climate that’s a-ragin’
of an order that’s re-arrangin.’
Watch as your ice-palace pleasure domes 

while whole horizons of looming towers slowly 

Status quo is death and decay, but life is change,
only if you can see, learn, adapt and evolve.
Or will you wait for the slow shifting sands of time
to roll in where you can dig a hole to bury your head?
Like the rest, you walk with bowed head and covered ears,
existence canceled out of your mind,
except for Bluetooth voices inside your head:
a modern techno zombie with a screen as guide,
afraid of the world around you and what it might say.
The hole in your head quickly fills with fears
of being unfollowed, unfriended and finally blocked
as you flee from vicious slack-jawed dyslexic trolls.
Hey, Facebook phony, snap a pic of your lovely lunch
and add it to the Instagramed lies of your life!
More uploaded delusions to feed your ego,
Owned by others you fear to fail to impress. 

What’s this? Feelings of paranoid fear
Of being watched and tracked and stored.
Eyes in the sky and spies in your phone
never knowing what it is to be left alone.
But you told them where you’re going
and showed them where you’d been,
let them know what you were doing
and who and what you had just seen!
When speaking to others, you watch what you say
for they can sniff out offense and strain at the leash
while barking their outrage at the feelings you hurt.
For God’s sake, don’t open the door for her!
Too late – you now stand accused:
1. of male chauvinism
2. of outright sexism
3. of playing patriarchy
What the farky??
It’s all in the PC Handbook available online.
Read it over a re-usable cup of “coffee”
surrounded by non-alcoholic Vegan Millenials
and Gen ZZZZZZZ –(sorry I nodded off, now I’m woke!)-
who can soberly rattle off LGTBQIA in a breath
while thumbing a QWERTY touch keyboard to death.
OK Boomer, how does it feel to now know
That Christmas is banned and God is dead;
that the world is really flat and science is divided?
Or should we build more jails or toughen up sentences -
or to ban or not to ban - 
talk-back radio cure-alls for all our woes?
Who really cares what reason and research shows,
when opinion can be protected from such foes
Behind the safety of walls and barriers,
where you take comfort with your own tribe
and from where you can hurl abuse and vilify
using trebuchets and catapults of free speech? 
And the Power Elite tweet, divide and yell,
while the rest of the world goes to hell
in a cauldron of civil war and civil strife,
but not before you check out Netflix,
and turn in for the night,
and intone..
“OK, Google - turn off the light.”

©Chris Christopoulos 2019

Friday, 6 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jnr. (as Don A. Stuart)

John W. Campbell Jnr's, Who Goes There was first published in the August 1938 Astounding Science Fiction

The classic 1951 science fiction film, The Thing from Another World (featured in this blog) was adapted from this novella.


In the film adaptation, a plant-based humanoid alien life-form and its space craft is discovered frozen in ice in Antarctica. The alien’s species require animal blood in order to survive. This single alien is capable of creating an entire army of invaders from seed pods contained in its body.

John W. Campbell Jnr

In Campbell’s novella, "The Thing" is a malevolent shape-shifting alien creature possessing telepathic powers. In the story, a group of scientific researchers in Antarctica stumble upon this alien life form which has the ability to assume the identity, memories, and mannerisms of the humans. The story follows the humans’ struggle to determine which members of the expedition are still human, and which are alien impostors. The very fate of humanity will depend on them being able to do so!

pdf version link  (Who Goes There?)

Full Film Link (The Thing)

Full Film (Colourised) Version Link  (The Thing)