Home

Monumental Science Fiction Milestones

image by Veronica V. Jones

Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do

HAL 9000
The alien ship arrives in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The chestburster impending arrival in Alien.

The BBC reports that a small group of SF experts from across the pond have picked Hal 9000’s descent into madness as the top moment science fiction history. This “moment” slowly developed during the course of 2001: A Space Odyssey — due to the stress caused by his orders to lie to the crew — but it certainly struck a nerve. We’ve never looked at computer-controlled systems without a bit of hesitation ever since. But don’t be too hard on poor Hall: he redeemed himself in 2010 by sacrificing himself to save a shipfull of geeks.

From the list presented on the BBC poll, I’d choose the climatic finale of Close Encounters of the Third Kind as the high-water mark of science fiction. Creatures from space, before and since, have been seen as monsters, invaders, or just plain ugly. Mr. Spielberg’s last great science fiction film gave an entire generation a reason to welcome otherworldly visitors, not fear them.

… then Alien had to come along and scare the crap out of everyone again. No one seeing that little alien make its surprise entrance through Kane’s chest will ever forget it. The horror and gore than followed — not to mention one excellent sequel, and two forgettable disasters — paint a picture of first contact that’s diametrically opposed to the gentle, big-headed children in CE3K.

Both of these iconic ‘moments’ seem more memorable than the nervous breakdown of a poorly programmed autopilot.

Written by in September of 2004. Last edited March 2019.

Related Features

District 9 Delivers Raw Action with a Conscience

 Agent Wikus on the run, under the shadow of the nonhuman mothership. Agent Wikus attempting to evict a nonhuman from District 9. The nonhuman Christopher looks anxiously out of a window.

Trusting The Undead: A Zombie Omnibus

Leading men from The Walking Dead and Zombieland. Timothy Oliphant and Radha Mitchell from The Crazies A. J. Bowen and Scott Poythress in The Signal

The Torturous Turns of The Prestige

Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier / The Great Danton / Lord Caldlow. Christian Bale as Alfred Borden / The Professor / Bernard Fallon. Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe. Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough. Michael Caine as John Cutter. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla.

Visual Wizardry Elevates Avatar Above its Collective Clichés

The free-spirited tribal princess and native hottie, Neytiri. Avatar-driving Jake and his reluctant tutor Neytiri. The ultimate Deus Ex Machina, the Planet Pandora.

Doctor Who’s Martha Jones: The Verdict

Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones. Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones and David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, David Tennant as the 10th Doctor and the Moon.

Comments

Be the first to comment!