Sunday, January 23, 2011
AN ALTERNATE HISTORY
The summer between fifth and sixth grade, our family moved to Corvallis. My father was working on his Master's Degree at Oregon State. It was a hot summer. I rode my bike all over campus and beyond into farmland, and when I wasn't riding my bike I was reading, pouring over the stacks at the public library on Monroe Street. I covered a wide swath. I worked my way through regular books from the adult stacks, history and social science, adventures and war stories, fiction and science fiction. Up till then, I'd experienced sci-fi in movies--generally cheesy late night creature features, but that summer I read the "classics" from Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury and Robert Silverberg, A. E. Van Vogt and Frank Herbert. That summer, I learned the unlimited possibilities of outer space. My infatuation with sci-fi didn't last much longer, but that season it was a perfect fit. I'd ride to the library, load up on books, and then hit the city park where I'd sprawl out on the grass and explore infinity, alien life, rockets and ray guns. In my nearly sixth grade brain, I'd sometimes miss the philosophical questions and morality plays the writers were exploring, but most of the time I'd get the general idea. Dressed in spacesuits, protagonists acted out questions of tolerance and militarism, segregation and the Cold War, peace and the possibility of nuclear inhalation. Sci-fi may be set on a distant planet, but of course it's really commenting on the here and now. Rod Serling's subversive "Twilight Zone" was also a big part of my mental make-up. If nothing else, it put me into the habit of asking "what if?" Those days are long gone but once in a while an interesting science fiction movie comes along that looks like fun. You have to suspend disbelief with science fiction--lot's of disbelief--but sometimes it's worth it. Here's a weird looking trailer for a movie coming out. It looks pretty far-fetched. What do you think? Want to go to the movies?