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I have the pleasure of welcoming Sara Creasy to Book Chick City today. Sara is the author behind the ‘Scarabaeus‘ series. Sara grew up in the West Midlands, UK but moved to Australia when she was a teenager. She has a degree in biology, was associate editor of Australia’s science fiction and fantasy magazine Aurealis for several years, which inspired her to write her first novel, ‘Song of Scarabaeus‘. Marriage to an American resulted in a second intercontinental move, and she lived in Arizona for five years. She now lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Please give a warm welcome to Sara…
I’ve never found it quite as easy to fall into a science fiction movie the way I can fall into a book. Maybe because it’s all spelled out on the big screen – when I can see and hear exactly what’s going on, when nothing is left to the imagination, there’s no room for me to inject my own spin on the story. When I read, I’m free to imagine, to a larger degree, what the characters and the world are like.
Despite this, there are SF movies that have stayed with me because of their visuals, their characters, or their emotional punch. I’ve detailed three here, but there are plenty more that I can’t get out of my head for various reasons: The Quiet Earth, Soylent Green, Gattaca, Pitch Black, Moon, District 9, Serenity…
As I made this list, I realized that many have something in common: they all feature everyday people going about their everyday – albeit science fictional – work. The blockbusters would have us believe that SF is all about earth-shattering events, alien invasions, meteor strikes, and the like. Less often do we see what it might be like for regular people living in another time, in space, or on other planets, experiencing everyday problems related to their futuristic worlds.
Three movies I love:
I’m not a fan of Westerns, but this “Western in space” is phenomenal. Sean Connery stars as the “new sheriff in town,” town in this case being a mining facility on Io, a moon of Jupiter. We get lots of small moments of the workers doing their stuff in a difficult, crowded yet lonely environment, and lots of gritty shots of the space station, inside and out. Gritty is what I love, and I love this movie. Especially memorable are the strange cage-like living quarters. Frances Sternhagen has a small but wonderful role as a down-to-earth doctor on the station, who turns out to be Connery’s only ally as he tracks down corporate drug dealers. In my book Children of Scarabaeus I named the doctor Sternhagen in her honor, and imagined her in the role.
I resisted seeing this movie for years because I have always hated monster movies. In the end I didn’t watch it until after I’d seen the sequel, Aliens (1986), which has become my all-time favorite movie. Alien is a monster movie, but I hardly noticed. What I love about the movie is the way the characters seem to belong right there on their spaceship. They’re not actors wandering about a set that was constructed two weeks ago. They’re real people who have been doing this job for years. Their ship is gritty (yes!) and has ladders and hatches and buckets and brooms, as well as the obligatory steam jets in the engine room. It feels lived-in. It even has a ship’s cat. And, of course, it has Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), in a role that was not written with a woman in mind (casting directors were informed that male or female actors could fill any of the roles).
The Abyss (1989)
Underrated, in my opinion, perhaps because of its slow pace and weird ending. I read Orson Scott Card’s novelization before seeing the movie, directed by James Cameron (Aliens, Avatar). The novel gives loads of additional detail from the main characters’ perspectives as well as the aliens’ perspective. As in Aliens, Cameron makes every character count, and as in Alien the characters inhabit their world completely. The underwater drilling platform itself becomes a character, too. It is, again, nice and gritty, and full of hardworking guys doing their stuff with humor and competence. Best of all, the rig’s designer is a feisty supersmart woman (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). This movie becomes a love story when she finds herself trapped in a deep-sea tin can with her soon-to-be-ex husband (played by Ed Harris).
You can find out more about Sara and her books here: