Notes about science fiction

April 6, 2010 permalink


Solaris (1972). Something of a lyrical Russian follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a story of personal grief and longing set aboard a space station hovering over an abyssal alien ocean. Great use of understated sets and on-Earth scenery with allusions to the style of the Old Masters. Between Solaris, Alphaville, and Children of Men, I’m discovering that my favorite cinematic dystopian futures are the ones that make little or no effort to appear futuristic.

December 23, 2008 permalink

In 1903 the Specialty Watch Company Helios Built

In 1903, the specialty watch company Helios built a trial run of miniature Boilerplates. The master of the hoax, an expert on Victorian automata, Paul Guinan, “tried” to “rebuild” one of these. The head resembles gas masks that soldiers wore in World War I, but as ornamental brass. The chest is as tubular as a Franklin stove, but gleaming with Baroque detail. Its knobby limbs were fully articulated , like an armature for special effect stop-motion seventy years later, or a thing in The City of Lost Children. […] For over a century, thousands of boilerplates have come down to us. They wait patiently. Patience has always been a virtue of the boilerplate; and of all hoaxes, including the Wizard of Oz himself.

Norman M. Klein, in Building the Unexpected. From The Vatican to Vegas, 2004 p179.