On the spot

Science Fiction The Golden Years: what happened to it?

A question that provokes me for several years is: what gets the real SF-fan nowadays on his plate in terms  SF: shit, shit and shit again and I’m not even talking about ‘original’ shit. Usually we get a very faint decoction of some comic strips and when the filmmakers are out of inspiration, they start making stupid movies based on even stupid computer games. Or they throw the helm to a fantasy background.

Don’t tell me that the latter pseudo-science fiction films which terrorizing our big white screens are fun and enjoyable to watch. I’m getting really tired of movies who claims to be great  SF-movies. For the real diehardfan a disaster but the fantasy and horror fans are going to be pampered again. And I deliberate did not mention names, apparently you guys will get my point of view here.

Movies such as “Soylent Green”, “Logan’s Run”, “The Planet Of The Apes”, “Fahrenheit 451” are no longer made, or nobody is even trying. On TV we lately get some good stuff to look at. Things like “Fringe”, “Lost”, “Alcatraz”, “The Even'”,… but when are we going to get serials like the strong ones of years ago: “Logan’s Run” (they only broadcasted this on a French channel in Belgium), “Planet Of The Apes”, “Fantastic Journey” (beautiful but far too short of range), “Dr. Who“, “Battlestar Galactica” (the original one, not the syrup serial we now see on tv) serials, “Project Blue Book”, “The X Files”, “Buck Rogers”, “Star Trek”, etc… when will we be surprised with a new strong real  SF-serial?

At book level is not much better: what kinds  of really ‘good’  SF-novels were presented in the past years? It’s fantasy that overgrowed everything, even on the big screen fantasy demands on his part. Okay for me but why is nobody in the movie world pays attention – or get inspired by a very astounding idea – to make a giant  SF-blockbuster with a real original  SF-story?

Someone who always surprises me with his  SF-stories is our own colleague Frank De Cuyper (Frank Roger). That man knows how to convince his readers with a good but short science fiction story but who cares about him? No big publisher will take him under their wings. Frank deserves more attention for many years for his work but the big publishing houses (and I mean BIG) are not longer idealists but accountants who want to see nothing but € € € € signs! Is SF poison? Is SF only for marginal people? Is SF is something for the dissenters? Oh, I’m not going to answer my question but it seems that everybody knows this answer already for a long time.

I’m really missing the years that one Ray Bradbury with “The Martian Chronicles” or “Fahrenheit 451”, or Isaac Asimov with his “Foundation Trilogy” and others, a Larry Niven with his “Ringworld”, Harry Harrison with his “Deathworld”-trilogy and “Make Room Make Room” (filmed into “Soylent Green”), Robert Silverberg with his amazing “The Book Of Skuls” took us every week to our local bookstore where we spend many hours to buy new SF-novels and stayed there for a couple of hours (it was not a common visit to a bookstore, no it was an exploration voyage into SF) because of a wide-range SF-book offer. And today, what do we get… really frustrating… Where are the new Jules Verne, who is going to step into Isaac Asimov’s shoes, who will be the new bright light into the  SF field? Who will create a new Dome World like in “Logan’s Run” by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson?

Therefore this small piece of supplication: let’s bring back the Golden Era of the real good science fiction. Let’s not forget how we adored these  great sf-names!!
Maybe this way we can inspire or encourage certain people to dare something new in the world of science fiction. And what do I ask?

The intention is to write an article (you decide about the length of the article) about a real (old time movies, please no modern so called science fiction blockbusters as “Avatar” or whatever) science fiction films whose origins lies in a famous SF-novel from the past. I give an example, “The Planet of the Apes” based on the novel “La Planète des Singes” by Pierre Boulle. You can write an article about both the book and the movie. You may compare one with the other and enumerate points that you might not liked, or perhaps had have seen. Everyone is free to chose his own subject to write about, the more souls the more joy. And it does not necessarily have to be in Dutch. French and English are also very common languages. Hopefully this can be a barometer for the real new  SF-books and movies again. Let’s give our own dreammakers back the honor they deserve…

Hopefully the real SF will  revive and triumph again…
A real science fiction fan
Alfons Maes

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This article was sent to Europa SF via Frank Beckers

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  1. Please please let this old SF stay in the grave it deserves. It has done its job and can have a nice rest now.

    Let the people who developed Crysis fill in their world, immerse in EVE, explore the world of XCOM, look at amazement at what Notch released on the world and is still to come.
    Let van Hamme build on XIII, and his other works, look at his colleagues & coworkers and what they bring to the field, loot at Tayler, Runberg.
    Let our eternal optimistic pessimists of Stross, Watts, Morgan, McDonald flourish. Acknowledge people like Robb, Gentle, Jones for what they add to SF.
    Lets finally get around to looking at what the small presses show us about the work and worlds we have ignored for so long.
    Look at everything I forget to mention, because even though I am aware the SF I consume is part of a bubble I always forget to look outside it properly and remember.

    1. Dear Sir,

      With your reply, you missed the point of my request. I really don not you you and your age is a question to me. So enyoy what you are calling ‘good science fiction’.

  2. How true.

    I make great use of my public library and it seems that all that is printed and published is this swords and dragons tosh.

    The modern world has totally forgotten science fiction in all it’s wonderful forms.

    What is so sad is many of my friends told me of this fantastic film about robots written by some odd Russian bloke. Ye gods they did not even know of Asimov and all of his great volume of works.

    Maybe it needs the likes of Geoffrey Deaver to move into this genre.

    If I had the money and the energy I believe a revival of the greats could create some amazing best sellers and a new interest in forgotten writers. One thing is for sure, if such a thing happened the publishers would never be short of great material to re publish.

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