Star Maker

I read somewhere that this science fiction novel, written by British writer Olaf Stapledon and published in 1937, is one of the all-time classics. Being a purveyor of fine science fiction stories I was intrigued so I sought it out.

But, it was heavy going right from the start, mostly due to the way it was written. Olaf was a philosopher and pretty much wrote this book while still in heavy philosophy mode, as well as deciding that it should be written in a dry textbook style. There were plenty of words I had never heard before such as cepheid.

Some sentences which did not have any fancy words were still hard to decipher. Here is an example:

This most subtle medium the Star Maker now rough-hewed into the general form of a cosmos. Thus he fashioned a still indeterminate space-time, as yet quite ungeometrized; an amorphous physicality with no clear quality or direction, no intricacy of physical laws; a more distinctly conceived vital trend and epic adventure of mentality; and a surprisingly definite climax and crown of spiritual lucidity.

I found myself going over a sentence again time after time to make sure I understood what was being said. Heavy, man.

But, the actual storytelling was fantastic and quite original, and very large in scale. It was basically about a chap who went for a walk and suddenly found he could mentally transport himself through space and time and visit distant galaxies in an instant. He also found he could mind-meld with aliens he encountered, and together they could travel throughout the universe and mind-meld with other aliens so that they soon became a large space gang observing the cosmos and seeking out the meaning of life. He soon discovered that an all-powerful being was responsible for everything, and was able to have a chat with him. There is a lot more to it, but there is also no real story, it was just him describing what he saw and learned about other aliens, galaxies, and even the stars themselves which as it turned out were also sentient beings.

One interesting thing I learned is that the idea of the Dyson sphere, named after Freeman Dyson, came from this book. Freeman had read the book and it inspired him to write a paper in 1960 about the concept. It is a very pie-in-the-sky idea though, very much science fiction. Arthur C. Clarke had much more obtainable ideas as he is credited as being the inventor of the communications satellite. Read Arthur’s Rama series if you can, brillo stuff.

Good luck to you if you want to make this into a film, it would be like turning Ace Ventura: Pet Detective into a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel…although I would read that.

Highly recommended for those into deep and meaningful science fiction flights of fancy, best read with a pipe and glass of brandy, and the Oxford Dictionary on hand.

After finishing this book I immediately felt like an easy read, so I chose the next book I need to read in the Doctor Syn series titled “The Courageous Exploits of Doctor Syn”. I am also simultaneously re-reading “The Way of Wyrd”, and old favourite.

Book count 2019: 1

The Man From Planet X

This is a 1951 independent science fiction film, and overall rather mediocre.

The story is about a roaming planet which astronomers named “Planet X” that was on a course for Earth. A news reporter following the story went to Scotland where the planet was supposed to be nearest to when it arrives. He meets an astronomer there, and his pretty daughter, and soon meets “The Man from Planet X”. At first the alien is friendly, but when a greedy scientist attacks the alien for his secrets things turn sour and the alien starts turning villagers into mindless zombies using a zombiefier, and prepares for the invasion of Earth by his fellow aliens who need a new planet to live on.

Most of the film was done on a set in Hollywood, and parts of the set were used in Ingrid Bergman’s “Joan of Arc”. It was shot in six days. Most of the film was just a lot of talk and very little alien action. The alien had a kind of ray gun, but we didn’t get to see him blast anyone with it, I presume the low budget for this film (US$41,000 or US$387,000 in today’s money) couldn’t allow for that. For a budget film though the acting was not bad. The Scottish actors had very thick accents, some of them were hard to understand at times.

The alien was a very bizarre looking dude. His face never changed and he made a kind of musical humming noise as communication, but we never found out what he was trying to say. His voice was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for the alien spaceship sounds.

Planet X man gets bushwhacked

The guy in the alien suit was bit of a mystery himself. From Wikipedia:
Actor Pat Goldin and dwarf actor Billy Curtis have both been rumored to be the unknown actor who played the role of the alien space visitor in the film. However, Robert Clarke, who is frequently named as the source of the Pat Goldin rumor, never actually knew the name of the actor who played the role of the alien, nor did the other cast members, including Margaret Field and William Schallert. Furthermore, the unknown actor who played the alien role was noticeably taller than Billy Curtis. Cast member Robert Clarke recalls only that he was of Jewish origin, stood about five feet tall, and was once part of an acrobatic vaudeville act. Margaret Field and producer Jack Pollexfen later recalled only that he had complained about his uncomfortable costume and his low pay, while William Schallert remembered him only as a very small, interesting-looking middle-aged man who wasn’t much of an actor.

The pretty daughter was played by Margaret Field, mother of Sally Field who was five years old when this film was made. Margaret made only this and another film, but had many television roles.

William Schallert played the evil scientist.

Quite forgettable except for the weird-looking alien.

Date watched: November 17th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2018: 73

Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam – Part 1

Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, or The Man Who Saved The Earth, is a 1982 Turkish Sci-Fi adventure that used plenty of unauthorised footage from Star Wars IV, as well as music scores from several Hollywood films, and could easily be called the worst (or best) Turkish film of all time.

The best way to review this film is with the help of images, words alone cannot describe this nutty film.

It started with the credits of course. They were rising from the bottom of the screen, and were erratic in speed. Some were slow to rise, some went by quite quickly, and one in particular flew up so fast that there was no time to read it.

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The film started with aforementioned unauthorised footage from Star Wars and a narrator explaining the back story of Earth being destroyed by an alien race, and then it got so weird that I couldn’t figure out what the heck he was going on about.

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We are introduced to our two heroes, Murat and Ali, who are space fighter pilots. Here, Murat is wearing a modded motorcycle helmet, and seems to be sitting in front of the screen at a movie theatre as it plays Star Wars.

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Murat

Ali talks about women a lot in the film. The music playing in this scene was the theme for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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Ali

For reasons unexplained at this point our two heroes instantly find themselves on an alien planet, minus their spaceships, and are in a rocky desert. Murat hypothesises that they are on a planet that is inhabited by women only. So, he asks Ali to “Whistle that famous tune of yours that no woman can resist”, but instead of summoning the ladies, it summons skeletons on horseback which they immediately do battle with.

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Eventually though they lose the battle and are taken to a settlement where villagers are being roughed up by Cylons, skeletons, and various other thugs. We also meet the leader, who doesn’t seem to have a name. He gets quite excited when he see’s the heroes…

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After watching the villagers being roughed up, Murat and Ali decide to do something about it, so they go into battle again. The Raiders March again plays as they kick ass.

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They were outnumbered, so they make a hasty retreat. Some villagers give them refuge, and as it turns out Murat’s hypothesis about a planet of women is dashed, there is in fact only one woman who does not talk, and a whole lot of men and boys.

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Meanwhile, the evil villain proclaims that he will find Earth and destroy it (over some footage of Star Wars again), which is confusing as at the beginning of the film the nutty narrator said Earth was destroyed… I think.

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Death Star crew get ready to destroy Alderaan

In the next room some creatures rise from their holes in the ground, or out of holes in the wall, probably a metaphor for something…

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…so Murat and Ali spring into action again. Unfortunately though, there are too many so they make a hasty retreat again, taking as many villagers as they can with them. The death toll is quite high.

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This creature killed many.

Next, we are treated to a montage of Murat and Ali beefing up to better prepare themselves for future rumbles. Here is Murat karate chopping a rock…

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…and Ali lifting rocks.

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And here is the intense look on Murat’s face as he mentally prepares himself to karate chop a large rock in half with his bare hands, which he does with ease.

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Karate-o-choppo!

After training, the silent woman treats Murat’s bloodied hands, and a romance blossoms.

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The training continues with Murat tying large rocks to each leg, then jumping. After a while he takes them off, and is now able to leap superhuman heights…

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…this comes in handy later on in the film.

Murat and Ali then decide to go to the Mos Eisley Cantina because they have a hankering for a punch-up, and do battle with various alien creatures. The red creature was the weirdest one in the whole film, like some kind of demented Elmo…

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Watch the whole scene here.

After the fighting, the evil space alien appears on a table and makes a speech about how great and powerful he is, how much he hates Earth and wants to destroy it, says he has the woman and a child as hostages, and asks them if they would like to join his gang. They are then taken prisoner and given some new threads…

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Ali is taken to the alien queen who tries unsuccessfully to seduce him to the dark side, and Murat meets the chief alien and refuses his offer to join the crew.

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Ali and the Queen

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Murat talking with the boss alien, flanked by Robbie the Robot and some Cylons

The alien king then tells Murat what will happen if he does not comply, and brings out the woman and child to make his point. As the woman and child are taken away she yells out “Leave us alone!”, even though she is not supposed to talk at all. Murat see’s red and goes berzerb, and launches into a lengthy battle with the alien creatures around him.

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At this point we are half way through the film. I will continue with part two of this exciting adventure later.

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