Archive for Desk Job

BIG BROTHER?! AGAIN! OH! BROTHER! OH! BOTHER!

Posted in Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lied to and tricked via television, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, rip off merchants, scam artists, set in Australia, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
BIG BROTHER WATCHING

YOU WATCHING BIG BROTHER AND BIG BROTHER WATCHING YOU. ALL POLITICALLY CORRECT!

In Australia Big Brother is due to return to television. The show that trivialized George Orwell’s warning to the future is back. Games will be played during the daylight hours in some house setting and gross things will no doubt happen at night. In any event, George Orwell’s 1984 warning to the future, our present, will be distorted once more and thus reduced.

Contestants in search of a brain will get on their soap boxes to talk a lot of deep and meaningful rubbish about current affairs they don’t understand and there will be tears on cue. The brain washing of a generation of young people will be sickeningly revealed. There will be propaganda.

What’s more, those who don’t want to watch the show will not be able to escape this fate except by turning off the screen all together and grabbing a book to read. Yes, during commercial time for any and every other show you will be pelted with reminders that Big Brother is on and you need to either support or evict via phone this loony or that loony. (And you will no doubt be expected to pay a lot for making these calls.) Wait! It gets even worse! Big Brother of old had a nasty habit of running overtime. Thus you are sitting there waiting for the show you want to watch to finally come on and, in the meantime, you have to put up with 10, 15, even 30 minutes of Big Brother you hadn’t bargained on watching at all. AAAAARRRGGHHH!

Back in 1948 George Orwell wrote 1984. He warned against being part of a government that spied continuously on its citizens without just cause and tended also to promote war over peace, hate over love. Make a man feel bad about having any affection even for his own wife then put him in a uniform and send him out somewhere to do some killing. Use religion, any religion, to beat any sense of real decency out of him. Also do the same to her. This is how warrior races are made and are perpetuated. Then, to make sure it all sticks, have words that could do future harm to this set up outlawed for everyone’s own good. Oh, and to top it all off, re-write history continuously to continually suit the government.

1984 was first published in 1949. It would have been published earlier save that the publisher wanted to be very sure that nothing in it could be thought to support Communism in any way. In his early years Orwell did have Communist leanings but these were knocked out of him when he learned how Stalin had treated his own people in the 1930s.

To George Orwell our best defense against a nightmare state are our own memories, histories, sense of right and wrong, and our free flowing, warts and all, language.

From the early 1990s, efforts were made to introduce political correctness where academics and politicians thought it would do the most good. Born out of a desire to do right, political correctness has mostly shown, at least in Australia, that Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Through political correctness, some workplace personnel became protected species while others were given little protection at all from anything. The result was a double standard that had not previously existed. What’s more, the language was tamed making it even harder for some individuals to cry out against injustice. And there was monitoring of behavior for some but not for others.

Today, in many offices, political correctness is merely a sick joke from the  recent past. It is still there, however, waiting to be relaunched with the old vigor.

There was talk in the news in August of 2012 of government initiatives in Australia to reinvent political correctness. It would, of course, go under another name as yet to be decided or no name at all but still be out there attacking the rights of some individuals and supposedly protecting the rights of other individuals. According to the news report a quarter of the the country’s population would immediately be better off. This of course means to me that three quarters of the country’s population would no doubt be forced in the end to crawl rather than walk, to listen rather than vent their own views, and to generally be second class citizens in their own country.

This initiative has come about in a similar way to the old political correctness. It is going to be pushed by academics, politicians, groups likely to benefit from such actions, and brain-washed school kids venturing forth to become brain-washed college and university students. The truly sad thing is that many of the kids that will find themselves as part of this initiative if it really does get off the ground will unwittingly be selling their collective future to hostile interests without even knowing it. By the time they figure it out it will be too late. It appears to be an attack or series of attacks against racism in Australia but it comes with the dangerous assumption that only certain types can be racist and that one quarter of the present population are victims or are to be victims if something isn’t done.

The truth is that everyone can be a racist or act in a racist manner. If this is not recognized then the folly that was and to some extent still is political correctness will definitely make a return though most definitely, in some quarters, in action rather than name.  There is likely to be the return of the ‘protected species’ that can do no harm and will not be called upon to account for their actions when they do in  fact do harm. Television is already geared up to promote and apply this new initiative.

In my novel, Desk Job, I deal with political correctness and how it can destroy lives. How close to reality my fictional office is for the mid-1990s and for now I will leave up to the reader to decide.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

THE CAT’S MEOW! From Egypt to England to an Australian DESK JOB

Posted in art, dark fiction writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Writer with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

SMILEY CAT

The Cat’s Meow! The Cat’s whiskers! The Cat’s pajamas! These are good British expressions that tend to put a smile on the dial of certain readers and, at the same time, conjure up pleasant if somewhat unusual images.

The there’s the childhood story of the kitten who lost his mitten that no doubt came out of some golden book edition. Nowadays, thanks to the Americans, the puss in boots is a rather dashing expert with the foil. In the hit television show The Big Bang Theory we have a song about a soft kitty who is warm. In the hit television show The Simpsons we have cats going through their nine lives rather quickly.

A cat once wanted to visit the Queen of England while yet another fur ball was happy to curl up on a mat near the fireplace.

In the USA there was a cartoon tom by the name of Sylvester who, on numerous occasions, mistook a kangaroo for an extraordinarily large bouncing mouse and there have been quite a few American felines, in fiction and real life, who have inherited great fortunes.

Some years ago I was asked to write some stories for an anthology titled: Cats Do it Better. One of the stories I wrote for this American book dealt with a cat that was an old salt and had the run of the ship he was on. Why was the cat an old salt? Well, many a sailing vessel in the old days did have a cat on board as a mascot. It wasn’t just a matter of companionship for the crew. A cat had a practical use. If you want to keep mice and rats out of the scullery and thus out of the sailor’s food they are the natural and also the most economical way of doing so. In fact, our long standing relationship with felines probably began when it was discovered that they could be of use in protecting the harvest.

In ancient Egypt, no doubt because of the importance of the grain, cats were at one time worshiped. No grain, no bread and the end result of that, of course, is starvation. Hence a small, usually furry, creature that can keep the vermin at bay and thus keep the grain safe has to be considered. at the very least, as asset worth keeping around. I say here usually furry because there is a hairless type of Egyptian cat. The hairless Egyptian, in fact, was in one of the Austin Powers movies as a regular cat who had supposedly lost his fur after being frozen then thawed out. In any event, the hairless Egyptian is ideal for the cat lover who happens to be allergic to cat hair.

Black cats for some time have been associated with witches and witchcraft. The idea that a black cat crossing one’s path will bring trouble is a very old superstition. The word catastrophe has cat in it.

Even so, a lot of nice things over the years have been written about cats and writers, such as New Zealand novelist and researcher Lyn McConchie, have been responsible. Her cat Thunder is amazing but, then again, many of the other animals on her farm are most unusual as her book Farming Daze would tend to point out.

Of late I have been examining the two Alice books by 19th Century British writer Lewis Carroll. They are not without cats. The best noted cat in them, of course, hails from Cheshire. Among other things, he has a great big grin and a marvelous disappearing act. He is also rather mysterious and cheeky. Naturally, when I decided to write my salute to Carroll a Cheshire like cat or two was definitely called for. I would not want readers to feel they were short changed in any way. Besides, my niece, Aila, has a new pet cat and that was also a pretty good reason to sneak at least one fur ball into the book.

In my novel, Desk Job, There are four felines that fit the bill. Two have fur coats and the other two seem to get along quite nicely without them even though neither happens to be Egyptian. In any event, a certain fictional office in Sydney, Australia would not be complete without at least one tail to balance out the overall tale.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

THE CROWDED CITY AND THE NEED SOMETIMES TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VOICES!

VOICES!

The city is where most of us make our living. The little luxuries of modern life are all tied up in the ‘Big Smoke’. Luxuries such as the internet and television.

It is good sometimes to get away from the crowds and go some where you can be more yourself. I virtually grew up with a fishing rod in my hand. Fishing has always been my sport. When the big city gets to be too much it is great to go away somewhere and do some fishing.  I am a salt water fisherman. I have had nothing to do with fresh water fishing though I might have a go at it some time.

While fishing it is possible to contemplate the universe and your place in it. With beautiful surroundings you can relax and, if the fish are biting, there is excitement.

Of late I have been collecting WW One and WW Two fighter planes. They worm their way sometimes into my fiction.

Occasionally the great Clarence River and the people living there make their way into my books and so do the people of the Wollongong area.

I remember my last visit to the USA and that also helps my writing.

 Right now there are some nice Agatha Christie novels in reprint coming out. I’ve picked up the first in this series more out of curiosity than anything else. It has been a while since I read any Agatha Christie.

I have also laid my hands on the latest Terry Pratchett novel. If anyone knows the strangeness of modern life and can write about it it would be Pratchett. An earlier Practitioner of this would be Lewis Carroll. I have a shot at it in my latest novel, Desk Job. http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

BIO ROD MARSDEN VAMPIREBIRDIE

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
art by Rod Marsden

A fanciful medieval style set of glass panels in an ancient church

Bio: Rod Marsden

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. His very early influences were his father, Charles, who taught him how to fish and how to appreciate nature and his mother, May, who helped him to value the written word. Other early influences include writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Gene Colan. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to his other passion, history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. His written work includes short stories in Cats Do it Better. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his stories on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. His  Ghost Dance is his first go at a dark quest style novel. His Desk Job is a salute to Lewis Carroll and some indication of how insane life got in the office in the mid-1990s.

Back in the 1970s, Rod took a trip to the USA and still has fond memories of his time in New York and San Francisco. He also visited Bali way back in the 1970s.  He would love to visit Britain and this desire does appear in his work.

Rod Lives on the South Coast of NSW, Australia and still occasionally puts a line in the water. He has a fondness for the Wollongong area but an abiding love for the more northern Clarence River region of his home state.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/

SAIL AWAY!

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, set in Australia, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN

Of times to come...

Who wouldn’t want to sail away to another land? Who wouldn’t wish to explore the heavens when the sky is clear of humanity’s pollution?  Writers have been putting together tales of adventure and daring-do now for centuries.

Enya’s singing of Orinoco Flow (Sail Away!) still inspires this writer as I am sure it continues to inspire other writers. I live in the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. I am not one for putting up the sails but I do enjoy the sea in my own particular way. I enjoy fishing and just being out there were you can smell the salt off the waves.

Of the writers hit by the travel bug it is hard to go past Geoffrey Chaucer. He was there when the English language was coming together in a written form that contained French ideas as well as Latin and Greek. He understood the importance of keeping the old Anglo-Saxon traditions going yet bringing across new ideas from overseas. For the grandest example of all this there’s The Canterbury Tales.   For a grand Italian example of this sort of thing there’s The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

Through these two men of vision story telling in English as we understand English today (Chaucer) and Italian as we understand Italian today (Boccaccio) began. Middle English Chaucer style is difficult to read but it can still be read by people today even though most of us prefer a modern translation of a work so large and impressive as his The Canterbury Tales.

Possibly the first recognizable novel that wasn’t simply a large poem or an assortment of short stories roped together was Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – a tale about being shipwrecked and discovering new vestiges of one’s own humanity. It has long since been condemned as having elements of racism but it still stands up in the literary world as a grand experiment in writing of the time.

In Spain Don Quixote came into being for the public in 1605 (book one) and then in 1615 (book two). The author, Miguel  de Cervantes, had traveled and because he had he was able to instill in his major work much of his experience of the world at this time. The Middle Ages had come to an end and with it the illusion of knight inspired chivalry. Even so, people still clung to the dream of chivalry and to send this up Cervantes created a wonderful madman who saw the would not the way it was but, according to chivalry, the way it should be. Personally, I prefer the second book to the first because there’s more action and less explanation. Regardless, Don Quixote has been published in just about every European language and there have been at least on musical and successful movie made about this tilter of windmills.

Mark Twain made much of a river journey in his famous and also rather infamous American novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is a book about freedom and the right to be free. It was once banned in the American south. In recent times it has come under attack because of some of the period language used but academics that know their business have defended it. Also it has been defended some time ago by the writers and cast of the American sit-com, Family Ties and by those responsible for the 1997 movie, Pleasantville. Next time you view Pleasantville do look for a visual reference to Mark Twain and Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn. Its there along with other most excellent works that were once banned by small minded people.

Lewis Carroll in the 19th Century took his readers on a number of weird and wonderful journeys with his Alice books.  And yes there was a real Alice. It is said that the Alice books began in a boat on a river in England where Carroll was entertaining a group of children with the strangest of tales. He was urged to write down the unfolding tale that became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. After these adventures in Wonderland were published they caused a sensation thus prompting the second Alice book.  Modern surrealism was born with these books though the term was yet to be coined. Also the tale of the Jabberwocky with its nonsense words came to show just how versatile sound was and also how powerful language can be in the right creative hands.

In the 1930s in there was high adventure in the pulps. For mystery there was H.P.Lovecraft and for Sword and Sorcery there was Robert. E. Howard. For scientific wonders and adventure in numerous countries there was Doc Savage.

Today adventure can be found in the printed and ebook works of Terry Pratchett (U.K.), Peter David (USA) and Terry Dowling (Australia.) Also do check out Desk Job by Rod Marsden.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

A SALUTE TO MY FRIENDS UP NORTH

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN

aaaaaaaaaab

I grew up in a suburb of Bankstown in New South Wales, Australia. My fondest memories of childhood, however, were those Autumn holiday trips up north. Every year my dad would travel further and further up north until he came to Iluka, in NSW. My parents fell in love with this wonderful fishing village and, when they retired, that’s where they moved to.

Nowadays my youngest sister lives at Maclean, not far from Iluka. She is married with three kids that are not really kids any more. One will some day soon become a primary school teacher.

In my novels and short stories the Clarence River area of New South Wales gets some mention. It remains a beautiful part of my home state and I can’t see this changing much in the future. Look for references to Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and the Clarence River region in Disco Evil, Ghost Dance, and Desk Job. My latest work, Desk Job, is my salute to Lewis Carroll.

And speaking of up north, I have friends in Scotland and also in the USA. Hence Scotland and the USA also feature in my writing. I visited the USA way back in the ’70s so I do have some personal experiences there. Mind you I have friends in the USA who do tend to keep me up to day as much as news reports, fresh new novels by American writers, and the internet. And my Scottish friends do keep me informed of what is happening in Britain.

A VISUAL WRITER!

Posted in Australia, desk job, Great Britain, horror writer, Marvel Comics, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Black and white television

Television Science Fiction such as Doctor Who first appeared in black an white

I am very much a visual writer. Check out  http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

I grew up on Marvel Comics during the Silver Age of American Comic Books. This was the swinging sixties. It was the time when Britain rocked to the sounds of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It was the time when most guys under thirty had long hair or wanted to have long hair.

In the early sixties the main stream American comic books showed their loyalty to the USA by their support of the Vietnam War. It was a case of the democratic people of the world versus those dastardly commies. By the late sixties going into the ’70s, however, there had been a change. The USA was desperate for peace and the commies might not be so bad after all. The mainstream comic book companies had be led down a more moderate path by the fringe comics, the comic books not considered mainstream. They marked their difference from the mainstream by referring to themselves as comix rather than comic books.

Meanwhile there was the mini car together with the mini-skirt coming out of Britain. Women were definitely wearing the mini-skirts to  shopping and to the cinema in summer in Australia. They were also, more and more, wearing bikinis along Australian beaches. The German beetle was actually more popular in Australia then the mini because of its sturdiness and reliability.

Surfing took off big in the sixties. With it came an interest in places such as Bali and Hawaii that had beaches at least as good as the ones in Australia. Surf movies also took off.

My first car was a Morris 1500. It was old but faithful. It took me places. In thinking about what to call one of my cats in my novel Desk Job, the thought of this car came back to me and so the cat became Sir Morris.

One of the Australian programs of the time that used to make me smile was Skippy. It was about a bush kangaroo that could do amazing things. Of  course I knew straight off about the fantasy elements of the show (a kangaroo just doesn’t have paws suitable for untying rope) but that was half the fun. Another thing was that you got to see the Australian bush on your tele in color wrapped around a good adventure. Skippy also did well overseas.

Of the overseas television programs around I was most fond of Doctor Who (Britain) and Star Trek (USA). Strangely enough, I am still a big Doctor Who and Star Trek fan. Doctor Who started out in black and white and moved to color sometime in the ’70s with the third Doctor. Star Trek was always in color but I hadn’t noticed this at first since I was watching it on a black and white tele. My family only got a color tele in the mid ’70s.

Of the novels I have read over the last four or so decades the ones that impress me most have had either an historical, science fiction, or fantasy. Presently my all time favorite writer is Terry Pratchett who is very much a visual novelist.

THE OFFICE CONTINUES TO BE A MOST CURIOUS PLACE!

Posted in art, Australia, Butterflies, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
CREATURES OF THE NIGHT!

THERE ARE STILL WARRIOR WOMEN AND PRAYING MANTISES AROUND!

The office, indeed, continues to be a most curious place. In the first decade of the 21st Century computers have grown up. The screens are less bulky than they were in the mid-1990s. In some offices access to the internet is essential for up to date reasearch.

Whether an office worker has much of a life while alive in this first decade remains debatable. In some offices in the USA coffee breaks and toilet breaks came to be clocked and in other wats monitored. Any worker spending too much time with one or the other could either get demoted or sacked. Medical conditions, of course, were taken into consideration. Clocking office workers in this way by management in Australia was considered but generally rejected as a practice.

Back in the first ten years of the 21st Century there were call centers operating in New South Wales, Australia. Much of this work has moved overseas to places such as India and Pakistan. where they can be run more cheaply. By this period of time not much remained of the clothing manufacturing industry that showed so much promise in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Once it was the wool trade that kept the country economically viable. Today, in 2012, it is mining. This trend toward mining becoming so very important was noticeable in the early years of the 21st Century. Now, more than a decade after 2001, it looks like the mining boom is petering out. I cannot say what it will be replaced by if it peters out too much but it will then have to be replaced by something.

Today, in too many offices in major cities, there are still praying mantises doing their thing along with butterflies and moths. In too many work venues, including banking, there are caterpillars puffing away on their water pipes. In the better run establishments, of course, hawks run the business without the necessity of a caterpillar. Oh and you will occasionally meet a warrior woman with some substance along with a dung beetle of no substance whatsoever and that rareset of all creatures, a mule with wings.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

SPACE…THE FINAL FRONTIER

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, desk job, Great Britain, Japan, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, Sex, Tom Johnson, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Evil in the night...

EYE IN THE SKY!

Today, thanks to e-books and modern technology in general stirring up the imagination, there’s a lot of science fiction around. Some of it is very good. Check out Starship Invasions and also Alien Worlds by Barbara Custer and Tom Johnson.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/barbara-custers-night-gallery/starship-invasions/

Let us now look at the pioneers that kick started it all.

Science fiction as we know it began in the late 19th Century. It was spearheaded by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. This does not mean, however, that the notion of landing a man on the moon belonged completely to either Verne or Wells. The playwright Edmond Rostrand in his 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, had Cyrano, as a pretend madman, tossing around various notions on how to get a man to the moon. These notions were comical but they were there.  Also, Verne may have come up with an almight submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) but there had been submarines in action during the American Civil War.  In his novel, The Shape of Things to Come ( 1933), H. G. Wells was speculating on the possibility of a very long war in which modern weaponry devastates our world. There had been such long wars in the past that Wells could easily draw comparisions with. It is our good fortune that such a war, lasting many decades, did not come to pass.

In the Back to the Future series of American films, both Jules Verne and H. G. Wells were honored. It can also be said that in one episode of the long running British television series, Doctor Who, H. G. Wells was, for a short time, a traveller in the TARDIS.

In 1898, H. G. Wells depicted trouble from outer space in his novel, The War of the Worlds.

The developing moving pictures added something special to science fiction. In an early silent colour film, men are depicted landing on the moon. In the silent movie J’accuse (released 1919) the dead of the First World War rise up in protest to the development of a new weapon and quite possibly the creation of a new war.

In 1901 an Australian woman by the name of Anne Moore-Bentley wrote A Woman of Mars which was in praise of an outer space culture in which intelligent females have more say than they do on Earth.  In science fiction, however, martians have had a tendency to be hostile rather than friendly possibly due to the fact that their planet is named after the god of war.

In 1901, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan made his entrance into the world of fiction. He was followed by John Carter, an Earthling having adventures on Mars. Burroughs is best known for his Tarzan stories but his stories about Mars were also quite spectacular.

During the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, movie serial based lightly on science fiction became popular. The 1939 Buck Rogers movie serial starring Buster Crabbe was popular. So in fact were the two earlier Flash Gordon serials which also starred buster Crabbe. In the movie serials and also in the comic strips there were unfriendly as well as quite friendly aliens out there. Hence the Earth had a need of her champions to combat the not so nice aliens.

Fictional pulp heroes with scientific knowledge also arose. There was, for example, Doc Savage, the man of bronze. He was a genius on many levels and also an adventurer. Here we’re talking about special bullets that don’t kill, special surgery on the brains of criminals to make them into honest citizens (a little creepy this one), a unique helicoper, plane and submarine. Doc’s men are all experts in their own fields. Monk for example is a chemist and Ham a top-notch lawyer. There also Doc’s cousin, Patricia Savage whom you might consider to be the woman of bronze. Doc was in the pulps for a long time and made appearances in the comics in the 1940s. In the 1960s, the adventures of Doc savage came out in paperback. Marvel Comics revived Doc in the 1970s and, some time later, D. C. Comics took over the character for a while before independent comic publishes tried their hand. There has been one Doc Savage movie made that I know of and it was not a great success.

During the pulp magazine boom, which started in 1901 and came to a close in the 1950s due to a paper shortage, there was lots of inexpensive science fiction around. A lot of big names such as Issac Asimov and Ray Bradbury got their start in these magazines. Asimov is perhaps best know for his ideas concerning robots. Bradbury may best be known for his novel Fahreheit 451 ( 1953) in which fireman don’t put out fires but burn books. His book people, though implausable, still bring a tear to this writer’s eye. Fancy becoming the essence of a book so that the book won’t die. He is also known for The Martian Chronicles (1950).

ROCKET MAN

THIS WAS HOW A MAN COULD FLY IN THE LATE ’40s and EARLY ’50s

In 1949 republic released the movie serial King of the Rocket Men which starred Tristram Coffin. In this serial a scientist invents a jet pack and uses it as Rocket Man to foil the dastardly deeds of Doctor Vulcan, a fellow scientist gone wrong. There are some nice cinematic moments here of Rocket Man in flight plus, like all movie serials of the time, there was plenty of action. There followed a whole slew of Rocket Man like adventures in other serials such as Radar Men from the Moon (1952) and Commando Cody: Sky Mashal of the Universe (1953). Today only King of the Rocket Men remains worth watching.

Paperbacks took over from the defunct pulp magazines as the major written source of science fiction.

In 1951 Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham saw publication. Here the plants are in revolt against humanity. In this same year The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, saw release. Here humanity is on trial and must somehow rise above its own pettiness to take its place evenually among the other civilizations out ther in space.

In 1953 the American comedy duo Abbott and Costello end up out of this world in the hit movie,  Abbott and Costello Go To Mars.

In 1956 Forbidden Planet, starring Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis, came out. It featureed the mechanical wonder, Robby the Robot. Here the wonders of an alien race prove to be rather deadly to humans. This is great science fiction that was not appreciated as much as it should have been when it was first released. In fact, when released in Australia, some scenes were censored. It is possible today, however, to see this movie everywhere in its full glory.

In 1957 The Invible Boy, starring Richard Eyer and Diane Brewster, made it debute. This was the second outing for Robby the Robot. A super computer with delusions of grandure decides to take over the world. Before commencing, he instructs Robby on how to, yes you got it, turn a boy invible.

Robby the Robot also made appearances in the television show, Lost in Space.

In 1959 an Australian children’s show involving an alien from the moon whose nose was a pencil was born. Every episode he’d travel from the moon to the earth just to draw. The show was Mr. Squiggle and it lasted until 1999. It was light but fun science fiction for younger viewers and, as noted by its long run, it was highly successful.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO AND A DALEK

In the 1960s television started to take science fiction a bit more seriously than it had in the past. In Britain there was Doctor Who. It was a show about a mysterious other worldly time and space traveler and his companions. When William Hartnell, the original Doctor, needed to retire for health reasons (he loved the show too much to retire from it for any other reason) the notion that the Doctor could regenerate into another body when his body was no longer any good was born. There have been many Doctors since Hartnell and most of them have given excepionally fine performances. The Doctor and his TARDIS, which is shaped like an old fashioned police call box, have reached legendary status. Darlek, the name of the Doctor’s number one enemy race, has gone into the Oxford Dictionary because of its popular and continuing usage. The Darleks were, are, and will be creatures inside machines who lack feeling for others and wish to become the dominant, if not the only living crreatures in the universe. There have been recent references to the Doctor in American shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds.

Out of Japan in the 1960s came some fantastic animation. The first to hit television in Australia was Astro Boy, the little robot with plenty of heart and get up and go. The fast paced opening number by Tatsuo Takai and Don Rockwell to the 1960s mainly black and white television show (one colour episode) went like this:

There you go, Astro Boy,
On your flight into space
Rocket high,
through the sky
For adventures soon you will face!
Astro Boy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here’s the countdown,
And the blastoff,
Everything is go Astro Boy!
Astro Boy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom celled, jet propelled,
Fighting monsters high in the sky!
Astro Boy, there you go,
Will you find friend or foe?
Cosmic Ranger, laugh at danger,
Everything is go Astro Boy!
Crowds will cheer you,
you’re a hero,
As you go, go, go Astro Boy!
The 1980s colour series of Astro Boy was a let down in opening lyrics, sound track and action. It was basically awful. The 2003 colour series was a much better effort. The 2009 animated Astro Boy film went back to basics and
had the fast pace older as well as younger viewers wanted.

After Astro Boy, the huge robot operated by the son of a scientist, Gigantor, came to Australia.

In 1962 a visitor from Mars (Ray Walston) came to stay with a young American reporter ( Bill Bixby) in what had probably been up to then a quiet suburb. The television show? My favorite Martian.

In 1965 the Robinson family, with Robot and sinister then silly Doctor Smith, came to be Lost in Space.

Then in 1966 there was Star Trek. The introduction to this show spoke of space being the final frontier. It also came with a fantastic new design for a ship that moves between the stars and various exciting aliens, The star ship Enterprise. It was on a five year exploratory mission. The star ship Enterprise had its own resident alien in the half Human and half Vulcan,  Spok. There have been a whole slew of off-shoot movies and television series.

One of the most confronting novelists of the 20th Century was American science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin. Her novel, The left Hand of Darkness, first came out in 1969. Here the nature of the roles of the male and the female are explored in strange, alien ways. When Le Guin first started as a writer it was suggested to her to write under a male name. This she refused to do but became a well known and respected science fiction writer anyway.

In 1970, a not very successful Australian science fiction outerspace television show, Phoenix Five, went to air. It not only looked cheap but came with dialogue and characters that didn’t help much. It starred Mike Dorsey and Patsy Trench.

In 1977 the long running British comic paper, 2000 AD was launched. Here Judge Dredd first saw the light of day and creative forces such as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman first got their chance to shine. In 1995 a Judge Dredd movie, starring Sylvester Stalone, came out. Apparently Stalone practiced looking at himself in the mirror just to get that famous Judge Dredd scowl right.  Now there is a new 3D Judge Dredd movie out starring Karl Urban. So all you citizens who smoke where you shouldn’t watch out, the Judge is back in town.

In 1977 Star Wars starring Mark Hamill changed the face of cinematic science fiction forever. It was a space opera, a cowboys and Indians epic only in white costumes and ultra-modern space craft. A great deal of money was spent and it paid off. The franchise of films, etc created by this superb effort continues to this day. As I am sure the director, George Lucas would have it, may the force be with you.

In 1978 it was no longer safe to got to your average video arcade. It had been invaded. Yes, Space Invaders had arrived. First this game took Japan by storm then it spread out and eventually engulfed the USA, Great Britain and Australia.

In 1984, Starman,  a rather unusual slant on the alien on earth came out. This movie starred Jeff Bridges as an unusual but sympathetic creature from out there.

In 1993 Babylon 5, a show set to challenge the Star Trek franchise, came out. It was about the last of the Babylon stations and it was the last great hope for peace in a troubled universe. An off-shoot of Babylon 5 was Crusade which took off for a short run in 1999. Why it had such a short run I don’t know because the episodes that were made are great science fiction.

In 1994 Ocean Girl made its debute. This Australian effort about a girl from outerspace with special gifts marrooned on Earth touched a nerve with people living in Germany and Great Britain. It was shot in some truly amazing locales in Queensland and that remains part of its charm. It also came with excellent scripting and  great acting on the part of Marzena Godecki, David Hoflin and Jeffrey Walker.

Recently my novel, Desk Job, came out. It is my salute to Lewis Carroll. Since in the last chapters it does touch upon string theory it can be labeled in part science fiction.

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DEK JOB BY ROD MARSDEN

DESK JOB BY ROD MARSDEN