Monday, November 2, 2020

Atomic Age Space Horror Inspirations

 In a recent post, I discussed what I saw as the possibilities of retro sci-fi horror of the gleaming rockets and stalwart spacemen variety, not the grubby, paycheck-seeking space jockey's popular in the Alien-inspired rpgs. I mentioned a few inspirations there, but I felt like a more extensive list was in order.


Weird Fantasy (1950)

Weird Science (1950)

Incredible Science Fiction (1955)

Some stories in later anthology series like Alien Worlds (1982), Mystery in Space (1980 revival), Time Warp (1979)


"In the Walls of Eryx" H.P. Lovecraft.

Leigh Brackett stories including "Shannach - The Last," "Purple Priestess Mad Moon," etc.

Ray Bradbury. Early short fiction, including "Death-by-Rain" and "The City."

CL Moore. Northwest Smith Stories

Clark Ashton Smith science fiction, including "The Immeasurable Horror," "Vulthoom," and "Vaults of Yoh-Vombis."

A.E. van Vogt. Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950). It's a fix-up of previously published short stories "Black Destroyer," "Discord in Scarlet" (both of which bear some resemblance to Alien; the first also likely inspired the Star Trek episode "Man Trap"), "War of Nerves", and "M33 in Andromeda."

Stanley Weinbaum solar system stories particularly "Parasite Planet," "The Lotus Eaters," "The Mad Moon," and "Planet of Doubt."

Film & TV:

The Angry Red Planet (1959)

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Planet of Vampires (Terrore nello spazio) (1965)

Outer Limits, select episodes

Star Trek, select episodes including "The Cage," "The Man Trap," "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" "Operation: Annihilate!" 

Twilight Zone, select episodes

Queen of Blood (1966)


JB said...

I do love all this stuff.
: )

Anne said...

This is a great list. I can really start to get a mental image of what you're talking about here. The dissonance between the clean-cut, rules-following astronauts and the illogical, psychedelic horrors of space feels like a really rich vein to mine.

It strikes me that Stanislaw Lem has a series of books that might fit with this aesthetic as well. I usually think of them as his hard scifi boks, but Wikipedia calls them his "pessimistic first contact novels", which is more descriptive. It's Eden, Solaris, The Invincible, and Fiasco. (His Master's Voice sometimes gets grouped with those, but it's about an alien message received on Earth, while the others all have humans traveling to other worlds.)

I do have one complaint though - "select episodes"? How can you leave us hanging like that?

Trey said...

Yeah, these sorts of stories present a space travel that is dangerous in a way we don't usually see in most modern sci-fi, even horror sci-fi like alien. How may whole missions are lost to Martian dangers in Bradbury before colonization begins? We don't emphasize that part of Star Trek because we focus on the named members of one crew that survived, but canonically the Enterprise is the only ship of its class to make it through the 5 year missions. Whole 200+ members crews were lost.

I did leave you hanging. I can only plead the other was getting late! Here are some Outer Limits episodes: "Nightmare," "The Man Who Was Never Born," "Specimen: Unknown,"The Mutant," "Cold Hands, Warm Heart," "The Invisible Enemy."

JB said...

All great episodes of OL. Man, that show creeped me out as a kid!

Trey said...

It definitely can bring the creepiness at a kid level!