Cultural Gutter: Archaeologists in Space

Author Jack McDevitt takes the guesswork, extrapolation, interpretation, and occasional total bullshit of assessing the meaning of ancient detritus and ruins and places them in the future, in a time when humanity has begun uncovering the ruins of long-vanished alien civilizations

Cultural Gutter: The Challenge from Beyond

In 1935, Fantasy magazine contracted five of the most popular pulp magazine authors to write a round-robin style story, with each contributing a page or two before passing it on to the next author. On The Cultural Gutter, The Challenge of the Challenge from Beyond looks at how these five accomplished professionals created something about as good…

Cultural Gutter: Whatever Happened to Saturday Night

I’m celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The world doesn’t need another review of the movie, so Whatever Happened to Saturday Night? is instead a mini-memoir about my first time seeing the movie, at Louisville’s Vogue Theater in 1987

Cultural Gutter: Beneath the Mysterian Dome

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m celebrating Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishiro Honda, and aliens who want to steal our women! Beneath the Mysterian Dome is a look at The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space, two of the biggest special effects blow-outs the the Honda-Tsuburaya team created. Prepare yourself for tiny space battle son an epic…

Cultural Gutter: Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

Cultural Gutter: Vaudeville on Mars

Over on the Cultural Gutter, I’m writing about the musical science fiction spectacle Just Imagine. Vaudeville on Mars is a look at the similarities between the lavish 1930 Fox Studios production and the 1928 Soviet film Aelita, Queen of Mars; as well as a celebration of the outrageous costume and set design. All of which is really…

Cultural Gutter: Return of the Tripods

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m taking a look at one of my favorite sci-fi book series from my youth. Return of the Tripods chronicles my revisit as a man grown to John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire, which I first discovered when…

War of the Welles

The country was, in the autumn of 1938, primed for a panic. Amid this air of paranoia, a little known dramatist named Orson Welles stepped behind the microphone for another broadcast of a radio drama, CBS’ The Mercury Theatre on the Air. When I was young still and open of mind, my parents set me…

Cultural Gutter: Something Kinda Funky

It’s a blue moon month for me over at The Cultural Gutter, and I get the honor of ushering in All Hallow’s Eve, scary sci-fi style. Something Kinda Funky looks at the time Buck Rogers, Wilma, and Twiki faced off against a nefarious Space Count Orlok in the classic Buck Rogers in the 25th Century…

Mad Science and Martian Maidens

Russian author Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy wrote the stories that served as the source material for two of the Soviet Union’s best-known science fiction adventures: the futurist fantasy Aelita, Queen of Mars and the Fantomas-inspired pulp thriller The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin. Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy was Russia’s less internationally known Tolstoy. While the one was writing…

Cultural Gutter: Gothic Galactic

My latest article for The Cultural Gutter is now up. In keeping with the season, it’s science fiction with the heart of a horror film. Gothic Galactic takes a look at Mario Bava’s brief forays into the cosmos

Japan Destroys the World

When the only country in the world that has had atomic bombs dropped on it puts a mushroom cloud in one of its movies, it tends to have more resonance than when, say, the Italians do it. When the Italians set off an atomic bomb, it almost always heralds the arrival of post-apocalyptic, dune buggy-driving…