Greetings from the Odinson,
“Science fiction…double feature…Doctor X will build a creature…see androids fighting…Brad and Janet…Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet…at the late night, double feature, picture show…”
There is probably no better definition, or explanation rather, of what Science Fiction is to the Odinson than this opening number from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Science Fiction is glorious entertainment at its finest. It shows us far off worlds we can only dream about. Only in Sci-Fi can we see the Volkswagen-size ants of THEM! terrorize the mid-west. Only Sci-Fi could bring us the complete failure of execution of Ed Wood’s gloriously bad Plan 9 from Outer Space. Only Sci-Fi could give the utter absurdity of Sharknado. Only science fiction can give us transcendent themes like “Live long and prosper…” and unforgettable moments that resonate generation after generation like “I am your father.”
Decade after decade, writers, artists, and directors keep pushing the envelope and giving us more and more eye-popping and mind-expanding tales of Sci-Fi. By no means is this a complete list, but here is a list of the Odinson’s favorite Sci-Fi, the good, the bad, and beyond!
The Odinson’s Favorite Science Fiction in Pop Culture
Movie: The Matrix – It was a grey rainy Sunday afternoon in April of 1999 when the Odinson went to see this movie. Remember, this was in the days before internet, well before I had internet anyway, and I had absolutely no idea what I was in store for when I went to see this pic. So, I’m sitting there with my popcorn and my big cold soft drink, the lights go down, and within the first five minutes of the film I realized that I’m not in Kansas anymore. I know lackluster sequels, Wachowskis follow-up bombs, and an endless amount of parodies and cribs have water downed the impact this film had on the world of entertainment, what can never be ignored is the impact it had on me. It captured my imagination. It also influenced the way Hollywood looked at the Sci-Fi genre. Joss Whedon himself said that after The Matrix, he immediately threw out what he was working on and went back to the drawing the board. Honorable Mentions: Planet of the Apes, Alien, Blade Runner, Escape from New York, Terminator, Predator, They Live, The Fifth Element, and Armageddon.
TV: Star Trek – Of all these categories, this was the one where there could be no doubt which show would top the list. Lots of science fiction tales show us the dark paths that leads civilization toward ruin and a dystopian future, or it pulls back the veil of modern society and shows the underbelly and darkest shadows of the human condition. Gene Roddenberry however shows a future of hope and equality, a time and place where all of mankind, no matter the color of their skin, nationality, or religion, lives side-by-side in harmony and seeks out to understand the mysteries of the universe together. Take away hunger, greed, and materialistic want and we are left with a United Federation of human beings working together for one goal, the advancement of mankind. It’s a great message and it’s the reason Star Trek has resonated and been in the pop culture in one form or another for fifty years now. Honorable Mentions: Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica (Classic), Stargate: SG1, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica (Modern).
Comic Book: Fantastic Four – Perhaps Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s greatest creation, the FF is action, adventure, drama, comedy, and it is all blanketed in a swathe of science fiction. Their origins are rooted in science fiction, a group of astronauts bombarded by mysterious cosmic rays are transformed into beings that are more than human. They are explorers of the unknown and through their exploits we are introduced to the Marvel Universe and all the fantastic and wonderful denizens that dwell within – Doctor Doom, the Skrulls, the Kree, Black Panther, the Uncanny Inhumans, the Watcher, Silver Surfer, Galactus, and more! Space, time, under the sea, in the bowels of the earth, the microverse, other planets, alternate realities, it is all explored and discovered by our quartet of brave heroes and their allies. Few other comics in the history of the medium so wholeheartedly embrace and encompass the genre of science fiction the way this one does. Stan Lee may have been onto something when he dubbed the Fantastic Four “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” Honorable Mentions: Kamandi, The New Gods, ROM Spaceknight, Guardians of the Galaxy (Classic), The Walking Dead, Saga, and Black Science.
Cartoon: Robotech: The Macross Saga – Take the wonder of Star Wars: A New Hope, the soap opera of Battlestar Galactica, the world-building of The Matrix, and musical cues on par with John Williams himself, throw it all in a blender and you get The Macross Saga. For a cartoon, Macross featured storytelling, character development, super cool mech designs, and animation that was light-years ahead of anything else on television. How this epic saga of the human race’s fight for survival has not been turned into a live-action movie trilogy is beyond me. Honorable Mentions: Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, MASK, ThunderCats, SilverHawks, Visionaries, Inhumanoids, Galaxy Rangers, and Centurions.
Anime: Akira – This seminal piece of science fiction also featured animation and complex storytelling that was way ahead of its time. It’s exploration of the human condition and the human psyche and the struggle with ultimate power has gone on to influence many, many entries into the Sci-Fi realm including Dark City, The Matrix, Babylon A.D., Chronicle, Lucy, and more. Akira also played a major role in showing the west the merits of Japanese animated entertainment and helped facilitate the influx of more anime, manga, and movies from the east. Like Macross, the Odinson cannot believe we have not seen a live action adaptation of this classic piece of Sci-Fi entertainment. Honorable Mentions: Ghost in the Shell, Dragon Ball Z, Bubblegum Crisis, Fullmetal Alchemist, Appleseed, and Scrapped Princess.
Video Game: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – Video games, going back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, have always been a fantastic source of entertainment. However, the modern day games can be every bit as complex and rich as the best movies, TV series, or even books. With vibrant well thought-out mythologies, complex characters, compelling drama, fantastic designs, and wholly satisfying gaming experiences, they may have been behind the curve for a very long time, but they are quickly shortening the gap. The StarCraft Universe has all these qualities and so much more. It is influenced by some of the best sci-fi in history including Aliens, Firefly, Starship Troopers, Robotech, and Star Wars, all while adding its own spice into the mix. The campaign is rich and I have no doubt will make an epic movie one day. Plus, StarCraft is at the forefront of online competitive gaming and is a huge part of this growing global community. Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy VIII, and Mass Effect.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Star Wars
It’s, hands down, the greatest sci-fi/fantasy in the history of pop culture. It transcends film, books, television, comics, animation, toys, it is truly the King of All Mediums. Every single time that bombastic music cries out and STAR WARS explodes onto the screen followed by that slow scroll of exposition, it is a religious experience for the Odinson.
To try and list all the great science fiction entertainment that has graced the Big Screen, television, and four color page would be an exercise in futility. This was a pretty big subject to tackle. Entire books have been written and extensive documentaries have been produced on the subject. The Odinson has given thee some insight to the Sci-Fi that he loves. Hopefully you too have a list like this stirring around in your head and celebrate all things Science Fiction – the good, the bad, and beyond!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell