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Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

  1. Mr. Prescott Doesn’t Grok Heinlein

    August 9, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    In June, 1961, Robert A. Heinlein’s most famous novel,  A Stranger in a Strange Land came out with little fanfare, and it wasn’t until August that a book reviewer outside the ghetto of science fiction magazines deigned  to review it. Here is what Orville Prescott had to say about Heinlein’s book in the August 4 edition of The New York Times:

    Later that year Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land would become the first science fiction novel to appear on The New York Times best-seller list.


  2. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (in Concept)

    July 30, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     I have to admit I am hesitant to post an entry about Irwin Allen’s 1961 film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. There are millions of fans of the movie and the TV show it spawned and I can’t get away with the kind of lazy research that passes muster when writing about the plot of a 50 year old comic book that barely anybody alive remembers reading. So, this weekend, the 50th anniversary of when Voyage to the Bottom of Sea was playing in theaters, I’m merely going to post some great pictures of the concept art used in pre-production, and a few of my modest observations based on nothing more than a couple casual viewing of the film when I was a kid.


    This, apparently, was the original design of the submarine Seaview. It’s missing the iconic “manta” bow of the final design and the windows are enormous! I remember thinking how impractiacal the windows on the movie and TV version were. The windows on the submarine in this picture just scream peril.

    I really like this picture! It’s a lot more expressive of a sky on fire than the roiling red glow seen in the film.

    I’d forgotten there was a giant squid in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. If I’d remembered that, I would have mentioned it in last week’s post about Jules Verne’s banner year in film. Surely, Voyage is only the second most famous story featuring a submarine and a giant cephalopod.

    Here’s a view through the interior of the “bigger windows” Seaview, made even more frightening by a gauntlet of sea mines. Granted, windows in a submarine are worth a few points in the terror department, but I think I’d have a hard time following the story worrying that at any moment a stray mine, or (illogically) sinking chunk of ice, or stray baseball could doom the entire crew of this technological wonder.

  3. What Ever Happened to Sylvia Dees?

    July 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    They call it cosplay now days. A portmanteau of the words costume and play, cosplay was coined in the 1980s to describe the act of dressing up as a character or even an idea plucked from a favorite fantasy novel, motion picture, TV show or comic book. You will find these cosplayers standing in line at the openings of films and at any number of Science Fiction and comic book conventions. Just do a Twitter search for #cosplay during the San Diego ComicCon this weekend and you will be treated to thousands of pictures uploaded from the phones of attendees. About 2/3 of these will be of women dressed as Slave Girl Princess Leia from The Return of the Jedi.

    So, you might ask,  why would the Belated Nerd, consistently a full half-decade behind the times, be writing about cosplay of all things? …No, you wouldn’t ask that. You know damn well I’m going to dig up a whole bunch of 50-year-old Polaroids of fans doing the exact same thing in the early ’60s.

     The best I can figure, masquerade balls were a common event at Science Fiction conventions in the ’50s but for some odd reason it doesn’t appear that any of these highly imaginative people thought to dress up as anybody more otherworldly than Henry VIII or Friar Tuck. The idea to dress up as aliens and other characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy seems to have finally hit its stride in 1960 at the WorldCon in Pitsburgh (Pittcon). Proto-Trekie Bjo Trimble came as a unicorn. Fanzine editor Earl Kemp came as an alien-come-to-Earth to steal all of our gold lame. There was a Giant Eye Ball Warrior, a Tusked Boar in PJsCaptain and Mary Marvel, and…a Space Princess. A Space Princess to make Debbie Reynolds’ teenage daughter look like…well, a Tusked Boar in PJs.

    Pitconn 1960

    The Space Princess returned in 1961(Seacon) as a sword-toting pixie and again as a more modestly dressed space princess (below)  in 1964 (Pacificon II). Her name was Sylvia Dees and she was the bride of SF writer Ted White. Ted White is seen with another woman described as his wife at conventions in the late ’60s. I don’t know if Sylvia Dees participated in any other Worldcon masquerades, but if she did, I’d love to see the Polaroids.

    Pacificon II 1964