The Aesthetics of Ambivalence: Rethinking Science Fiction Film in the Age of Electronic (Re)production

By Brooks Landon | Go to book overview

1
Classics and Clunkers: Why Science Fiction Film Is Not Science Fiction Literature and Why That's Not So Bad

Some years ago Gahan Wilson turned his distinctive talents toward film scholarship. The result was a "Science Fiction Horror Movie Pocket Computer Chart," which took its place in a 1971 issue of The National Lampoon, amid no doubt equally scholarly endeavors (22). Wilson's chart reduced science fiction film narratives to a series of alternative branchings. At the most simple end, for instance, the plot line would run: "Earth burns up or freezes or falls into the sun and everybody dies (The End)." A somewhat more complicated plot line might run: "Earth scientists invent tiny bugs which want our women and are radioactive and can be killed by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and/or Coast Guard (The End)." Alternatively, the story might go:

Earth scientists invent or discover tiny or giant bugs or reptiles or mechanical devices or super persons or icky things which or who want our women, or who are friendly (The End) or who are friendly but misunderstood or who misunderstand us or understand us too well, or look upon us only as a source of nourishment and are not radioactive and cannot be killed by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and/or Coast Guard, but a cute little kid convinces them people are O.K. or a priest talks to them of God or they fall in love with this beautiful girl and they die (The End) or they leave (The End) or they turn into disgusting lumps (The End) or they get married and live happily forever after (The End).

Other possible alternatives include plots driven by giant comets, attacks by tiny or giant Martians, and feature conflicts resolved variously by chicken pox, the atomic bomb, or a crowd of peasants with torches. You get the picture.

-3-

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