Blog Directory CineVerse: Close encounters of the entertainment kind: Sci-fi sneak previews

Close encounters of the entertainment kind: Sci-fi sneak previews

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: this is the last in a 4-part weekly series that first published on Feb. 3.)

The future of the science fiction genre in entertainment certainly appears to be at a crossroads. Does it hold infinite possibilities, or will consumers eventually get bored with it all as sci-fi writers scramble for fresh settings and more fantastic aliens and plots? And, as we learn more about the limits of time, space, and the laws of the universe, will this restrict sci-fi writers from penning creative yarns that science says isn't possible?

“I'd say the future of science fiction is infinite,” says
Dr. James E. Gunn, Emeritus Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. “Every advance in scientific understanding has had two consequences: either people suggesting that science fiction no longer has anything to write about, or the raising of new questions that make for even more dramatic and insightful stories. We have to go with what science says isn't impossible, not what it says is possible, and even the impossible looks more possible all the time, what with the uncertainty principle, quantum physics, nanotechnology, genetic and biological insights and techniques, and new discoveries in space and with advanced instrumentation.”

As for the possibility of alien conceptualizers running out of ideas and sci-fi lovers running out of interest,
Ann Crispin, science fiction author of many Star Wars and Star Trek novels based on the movies and television series, says relax. “Consumers, as well as science fiction creators, will continue to have wild imaginations that won’t let the genre suffer.”

When truth is stranger than science fiction
5 must-see movies and the real-life UFO cases they’re based on:

  • The UFO Incident (1975) This TV film tells the allegedly true story of Betty and Barney Hill (played by Estelle Parsons and James Earl Jones) and their purported abduction by aliens in September, 1961. The E.T.s, who allegedly probed the couple’s bodies (inside and out) on their spacecraft, are depicted as resembling the classic “Grey” alien.
  • Roswell: the UFO Cover Up (1994) This film, broadcast as an original Showtime cable movie, is loosely based on the famous Roswell story, which made headlines across the world in July of 1947. Kyle MacLachlan stars as Jesse Marcel, an intelligence officer troubled by having been made to lie about having seen the debris of a crashed flying saucer in the New Mexico desert. Rumor has it that four classic Grey alien bodies—originating from the Zeta Reticuli system--were recovered.
  • Fire in the Sky (1993) In the American northwest in 1975, Travis Walton and his timber-cutting coworkers claim that they encountered an alien vessel. Walton supposedly was zapped up into the UFO, and his buddies were accused of murdering their missing partner. The abductee returned days later, telling of his experience with blond Nordic and Grey aliens (only the latter are shown in the movie). James Garner plays a skeptical police officer trying to debunk the account.
  • Communion (1990) Based on author Whitley Strieber’s alleged encounters with possible alien beings who have been abducting him throughout his entire life—as detailed in his wildly popular book Communion. Christopher Walken portrays Strieber in this choppy adaptation of the bestseller that helped spark a renewed interest in UFOs.
  • Alien Secrets: Area 51 A strange two-part documentary that aired on the Learning Channel and is available on video, Alien Secrets explores some of the most intriguing UFO cases of the 20th century. Detailed in depth is Bob Lazar’s famous account of Area 51, the infamous military base outside of Las Vegas that the Air Force continues to deny even exists. Lazar claims to have worked there briefly on an out-of-this-world project: Reverse-engineering UFO propulsion systems. Stanton Friedman, Bruce Maccabee, and Glenn Campbell are among the prominent figures in the field who lend commentary.

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