Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction

By George E. Slusser; Eric S. Rabkin | Go to book overview
Save to active project

An Indication of Monsters

Colin Greenland

My friend Janet, a physiotherapist, was quite incredulous that the 1986 Eaton Conference proposed to consider papers on the subject of aliens, creatures that don't even exist. She felt confirmed in her diagnosis of collective insanity when she saw that the program listed only one female speaker out of nineteen. "That's because we're all too sensible," she said. "Women know there are enough real monsters in the world already without going around making them up."

Making up monsters is surely psychotic behavior, even if you get paid for it. There are writers of science fiction who expressly agree. In the introduction to his collection The Golden Man, Philip K. Dick identified himself explicitly with this model. "That's me," he wrote, "paralyzed by imagination. For me a flat tire on my car is (a) The End of the World; and (b) An Indication of Monsters (although I forget why). This is why I love SF. I love to read it; I love to write it. The SF writer sees not just possibilities but wild possibilities. It's not just 'What if -- ' It's 'My God; what if -- ' In frenzy and hysteria."1

Philip K. Dick may have been paralyzed as an impromptu auto mechanic, having to fix a flat tire, but as a writer he was not at all "paralyzed by imagination," of course. His writing is characteristically restless, energetic. However, he seems to be saying here that science fiction is an expression of neurosis, even of paranoia. Someone who is paralyzed by imagination is like Hamlet, unable to act because of his apprehensions. It's not that he doesn't know what to do, but that he doesn't know what to think. He thinks the wildest things. He jumps to conclusions. He blames the aliens.

The alien appears at the moment of disaster and doubt: the flat tire. In the lore of those who study UFOs, the presence of the alien craft can frequently stop a car engine; and it's interesting how often that conjunction crops up in the monster movies, to which I'll be


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 252

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?