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SFE: Science Fiction Encyclopedia: The prolonged post-World War Two ( roughly ) state of tension between the West – principally.
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The Soviet regime, as a myth-making ideology, crafted and disseminated flattering stories about leadership, military feats, and industrial success; the science fiction genre offered carte blanche for myths of cosmic proportions.

History of science fiction

These were stories about real scientific discoveries or speculations on scientific developments often written by scientists to educate public. This genre, although under close watch from censorship committees, gained a niche following of scientists who read for educational purposes. Although the stories aimed to be fictional, a real or believable scientific development always served as the foundation for speculation; frequently other members of the scientific community would write to journals correcting mistakes in the science and proving speculations unfeasible. However, it is naive to think of Soviet science fiction as being strictly fabricated by government-produced ideology, neither is it solely dictated by social and technological changes.

Ideology, in this study, is not purely a product of the ruling classes, but a combination of social and technological effects on the ruling apparatus that in turn creates a mediated ideology. The turning point for Soviet optimism in space exploration and technologically achieved utopia was July , when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the Moon. After this event Soviet science fiction films were limited to stories aimed at children and young teenagers, and later philosophy with the coming of Andrei Tarkovskiy and Konstantin Lopushanskii, while American science fiction finally looked to space as a setting for adventure stories rather than unspeakable horrors.

Imagining the Future: Science Fiction Cinema in the Early Cold War

In the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project marked the end of the space race, as both countries collaborated on a joint space flight. Therefore this research tracks the changes in attitude toward space exploration in the very early stages of its technological and ideological development. The paranoia of alien infiltration into American homes, as well as fear of invasion represented through exaggerated monsters is analysed in section II. Section III explores fear of galactic travel in American science fiction and Soviet utopian narratives, with a close inspection of the two remakes: Although this attitude is generally termed the Red Scare, this is partially a misnomer to the actual fears at the heart of the paranoia.

As popular science fiction films visualise, the fear is not only of communist invaders, but also of enemies within - not necessarily communists - but equally subversive and un-American. Science fiction threats can be classified in three categories: The total invasion by the Soviets is difficult to represent in film, and not as cinematic as the metaphorical invasion by horrendous monsters, which stand for the unnaturalness of foreign beliefs.

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Similarly, Hendershot argues these monster films visualise the complete disaster of nuclear war, which is the unimaginable and the unrepresentable. Superficially the theme of aliens invading humans through brainwashing explores the fear of the enemy who may not be radically evil, but indoctrinated by a radically evil power; this evokes the idea that Communists are all brainwashed because the regime is otherwise unthinkable. Two films engage with this theme most notably, It Came from Outer Space and Invasion of the Body Snatchers , the ideologies of the two films are drastically different, and this will be explained shortly, although the premise for the plot is almost identical.

Unfortunately the change in character is noticeable as their victims are vacant and dazed, which causes an uprising in the small Arizona town where the aliens landed. The suggestion in this kind of alien invasion narrative is that the real danger is not in how different the aliens are to typical Americans, but precisely how similar.


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Another parallel is the horror created through the lack of physical violence, It Came from Outer Space and Invasion of the Body Snatchers both incite terror precisely because the replaced humans are vacant and passive, superior in their emotional control and organisation to the original humans. The social fear investigated in the narrative of subverted human minds is that alien invaders are a danger due to the similarity between the subversive alien threat and familiar life, a kind of dissonance created through representing familiar landscapes corrupted by alien presence.

Anthropomorphic monsters of terrestrial origins, such as the mutated Soviet scientist in The Beast of Yucca Flats , also fall in the narrative of internal threats, because they explore the worldly roots of monsters. Them binary where the beasts are clearly demarcated by their grotesque appearance, but a fear that They may be too much like Us, or even that in the fight against the enemy we may become like the enemy.

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In fact the enemy may already be amongst us, a point made explicit in the small-town settings of these plots: The Rosenberg trial, spy stories, and propaganda films teaching citizens the arts of spotting communists made it possible for films to ride the coattails of infiltration fears and create horror at low-budge costs, without special-effects monsters and buckets of blood. Moral dilemmas such as this do not exist in Soviet science fiction where alien threats are rare and clearly physically defined.

Monsters from Earth, such as the giant insects mentioned earlier, engage with paranoid exaggeration of invasion fears through grotesque monsters, but also deal with several specific social issues. When the colony is destroyed by the US Air Force, several queen ants escape to establish colonies elsewhere. In order to escape mass panic, the government attempts to conceal information about the presence of giant ants from the people, and further military intervention is needed to destroy the remaining ant colonies.

As typical in science fiction of this period, the horror taking place in a small American town has the potential for a country-wide catastrophe as the ants endangered Los Angeles before their ultimate end with the aid of the military. After extensive research, all of the films using a terrestrial monster metaphor require and get resolved with the aid of the military, scientists are often to blame for the existence of the monsters as they test nuclear weapons and experiment with genetic engineering, although frequently scientists aid the military in taking down the monsters.

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They manage to frighten away the Russians, and rescue the missile. The iceberg scheme is abandoned. Originally published in the magazine Satellite Science Fiction , the piece was later published as the twelfth story in Clarke's collection Tales from the White Hart. Gale praised the collection as "as light and frothy a conglomeration of sidesplitters as it has been my good fortune to read. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

Retrieved 12 December Science fiction is always political as it has the power to stage contemporary problems through the lens of impossible events; popular science fiction imagines theoretical futures arising out of present conditions. The spread of domestic televisions and cinemas extends the visual and realistic medium to a large audience, and in the case of science fiction creates an outlet for ideologies to be disseminated to imaginative youths who are the biggest consumers of sci-fi.

The genre presupposes spectacular visuals and exaggerated plots, these in combination with paranoid social attitudes result in the most widely criticised and adored period of early science fiction cinema, the s and early s. The Soviet Union and the United States provide a focus for this study on account of several factors: Fanciful dreams of aliens and technological advancements represented in science fiction cinema and literature increased in popularity in the s and s both in the United States and the Soviet Union.

However grand and imaginative the plots, cinema remained rooted by the gravity of earthly concerns as both governments toiled to create an ideology aimed against the other. The technological nature of the Cold War is defined by the arms race, although following the disillusionment of WWII and the horrific discoveries about the effects of nuclear weapons, both countries had their eyes turned to the stars in the early stages of the conflict.


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A large part of American science fiction in the 50s and 60s looked to the stars in fear of alien invasion, while Soviet films dreamed of space exploration and utopia. However science fiction films were not simply a direct result of collective paranoia, the genre offered social criticism from different political viewpoints: The United States lost the monopoly on the atomic bomb in when the Soviet Union conducted the first test for their nuclear warhead; this produced a wave of nuclear war hysteria in the West. The execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage justified a paranoid fear of enemies being fostered on native soil, and also a cautious attitude toward scientists who may lose sight of patriotism for the sake of scientific advancement.

The Hollywood blacklist officially started in after the HUAC investigation to uncover what Robert Stripling, the chief investigator, considered being the Communists attempt to influence the Screen Writers Guild and the content of films. By the end of the s writers like Dalton Trumbo appeared in film credits and retrospectively received credit for work done in the 50s under pseudonyms, however many of the blacklisted actors and writers had difficulty getting work all through the 60s.

This ruthless exclusion of talented writers on the basis of revolutionary political sympathies doubtlessly resulted in many less talented writers and film-makers exercising extreme caution and expressing ideas they assume to be acceptable to the anti-communist government. American science fiction cinema stems from s horror, such as Frankenstein and The Mummy , horror films about small-scale disasters affecting towns or individuals.

Science fiction films of the 50s and 60s also focus on disaster on a small-town scale, but the stakes are always global — if the heroes fail, life as we know it will seize. The next section explores the theme of invasion and paranoically exaggerated aliens as representative of the Us versus Them binary and the fear of foreign infiltration. Many of the American films described in this study are produced by American International Pictures, a production company active between it specialised in independently produced low-budget films aimed at a specific target audience to maximise profit; founding member Samuel Arkoff, postulated the most profitable audience is year old males.

The ideology of the Soviet Union in the s, rather than dwelling on the horror of over twenty million lives lost to the war, focused on science as the vehicle for achieving communist utopia.


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The Soviet regime, as a myth-making ideology, crafted and disseminated flattering stories about leadership, military feats, and industrial success; the science fiction genre offered carte blanche for myths of cosmic proportions. These were stories about real scientific discoveries or speculations on scientific developments often written by scientists to educate public.

This genre, although under close watch from censorship committees, gained a niche following of scientists who read for educational purposes. Although the stories aimed to be fictional, a real or believable scientific development always served as the foundation for speculation; frequently other members of the scientific community would write to journals correcting mistakes in the science and proving speculations unfeasible.

However, it is naive to think of Soviet science fiction as being strictly fabricated by government-produced ideology, neither is it solely dictated by social and technological changes.

Science Fiction Films and Cold War Anxiety

Ideology, in this study, is not purely a product of the ruling classes, but a combination of social and technological effects on the ruling apparatus that in turn creates a mediated ideology. The turning point for Soviet optimism in space exploration and technologically achieved utopia was July , when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the Moon. After this event Soviet science fiction films were limited to stories aimed at children and young teenagers, and later philosophy with the coming of Andrei Tarkovskiy and Konstantin Lopushanskii, while American science fiction finally looked to space as a setting for adventure stories rather than unspeakable horrors.

In the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project marked the end of the space race, as both countries collaborated on a joint space flight.