Alfred Elton van Vogt (April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the "Golden Age" of the genre.
Book description: Presents the science fiction classic set in the year 2650, where the Games Machine--25,000 electronic brains--sets the course of people's lives.
Excerpt from 1984 - Review of Nineteen Eighty-Four by James Topham, from
Book description: Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
Product description: A fine and stunning screen adaptation of George Orwell's prophetic 1948 novel about a world in which the government completely controls the masses by controlling their thoughts, altering history and even changing the meaning of words to suit its needs. This was Richard Burton's final film.
Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review of 1984 | February 1, 1985
George Orwell made no secret of the fact that his great novel 1984 was not really about the future but about the very time he wrote it in, the bleak years after World War II when England shivered in poverty and hunger. In a novel where passion is depicted as a crime, the greatest passion is expressed, not for sex, but for contraband strawberry jam, coffee and chocolate.
What Orwell feared when he wrote his novel in 1948 was that Hitlerism, Stalinism, centralism and conformity would catch hold and turn the world into a totalitarian prison camp. It is hard, looking around the globe, to say that he was altogether wrong.
Michael Radford's brilliant film of Orwell's vision does a good job of finding that line between the "future" world of 1984 and the grim postwar world in which Orwell wrote. The movie's 1984 is like a year arrived at through a time warp, an alternative reality that looks constructed out of old radio tubes and smashed office furniture. There is not a single prop in this movie that you couldn't buy in a junkyard, and yet the visual result is uncanny: Orwell's hero, Winston Smith, lives in a world of grim and crushing inhumanity, of bombed factories, bug-infested bedrooms and citizens desperate for the most simple pleasures.
Link to the full article: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/1984-1984
Book description from hard cover edition by Random House
The three laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories, from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.
Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark.
Book description: The development of robot technology to a state of perfection by future civilizations is explored in nine science fiction stories.
Product description: In the year 2035, robots are a common, trusted part of life. But that trust is broken when a scientist is found dead, and a skeptical Chicago police detective investigating the murder believes that a robot is responsible. It seems impossible for a robot to break the Three Laws of Robotics, for if that were to happen there would be nothing to stop them from taking over the world. Aiding the detective in his investigation is a psychologist who specializes in the psyches of robots. Will technology ultimately lead to mankind's salvation or annihilation?
Based on the idea suggested in a book by Isaac Asimov.
Excerpt from I, Robot Movie Review: I. Love. This. Movie By Rebecca Murray, About.com Guide
I’ve already established in previous reviews I’m not a comic book person (see The Hulk, Spider-Man, Hellboy, etc.). The same lack of knowledge of the source material extends to sci-fi films. I think I read Isaac Asimov years ago, but it didn’t stick with me. I didn’t know there were three laws robots must obey, and the title I, Robot reminded me more of a “Me, Tarzan, You, Jane”-type of thing than anything else.
Was I really looking forward to seeing I, Robot? Yes--and no. Yes because sometimes Will Smith is fun to watch (Independence Day, Men in Black). No because sometimes he isn’t (Bad Boys 2, Wild Wild West). Plus you’ve got the whole robot special effects thing and that could be extremely disturbing to watch or it could be extremely entertaining. I don’t believe I’ve worried over seeing a movie as much as I stressed about I, Robot since I paid to see Moulin Rouge. Full of anxiety and popcorn, I sat through the screening of I, Robot and emerged totally overwhelmed and glowing with hope for the future of Will Smith movies. I, Robot is one of his best, thanks to the stunningly stylish, almost eerily alive robots he shares the screen with.
Link to the full article: http://movies.about.com/od/irobot/a/irobotrv071504.htm
Excerpt from Ray Bradbury by Gerald Jonas, The New York Times, Published: June 6, 2012
Ray Bradbury, 1920 — 2012
Ray Bradbury was a master of science fiction whose lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America.
Mr. Bradbury died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91.
His most famous novel is Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. Named for the temperature at which paper ignites, the novel depicts a near-future society in which firemen don’t extinguish fires but instead burn books, and where the complacent populace, numbed by nonstop television and advertising, seems all too eager to embrace enforced ignorance.
By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. His name would appear near the top of any list of major science-fiction writers of the 20th century, beside those of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and the Polish author Stanislaw Lem.
Link to the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/books/ray-bradbury-popularizer-of-science-fiction-dies-at-91.html
Reviewed by Magill Book Review: Guy Montag, a fireman whose job it is to burn books, begins to doubt his society's high-speed, hedonistic way of life when he meets Clarisse McClellan, a young girl whose family lives a slower, more graceful existence. Clarisse shares her values with him until the McClellans mysteriously disappear.As Montag's dissatisfaction increases, he seeks out a retired English professor named Faber for support. However, Montag's chief, Beatty, correctly suspects Montag of being a secret reader and book collector. After Beatty burns down Montag's house, he must flee civilization and, on Faber's advice, find a group of outcasts who have dedicated themselves to memorizing whole books while their society destroys itself in a pointless war. Though the novel focuses on a book burner, it is more than a diatribe against censorship. Rather, it pictures a society, not far removed from our own, in which books and the leisure, thought, and tolerance necessary to enjoy them are no longer valued. The firemen simply enforce the will of a people who desire only conformity, unrelated facts, and immediate gratification. The most frightening aspect of the story is the portrayal of Montag's wife, Mildred, and her friends, who live through electronic entertainment devices. The debasement of the quality of life through the misuses of technology and the neglect of literature is a persistent theme in Bradbury's fiction, but this novel remains his fullest treatment of the subject. The lyric power and symbolic richness of the book make this Bradbury's most satisfactory long fiction and a classic of speculative literature. The title of the novel is derived from the combustion temperature of paper: 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
Link to the review source: NoveList Plus - http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=000927&site=novp-live
Product description: Ray Bradbury's best-selling science fiction masterpiece about a future without books takes on a chillingly realistic dimension in this film classic directed by one of the most important screen innovators of all time, the late Francois Truffaut.
Excerpt from "Fahrenheit 451: Reading the Film: Truffaut's Movie Version Was Not Initially Well-received, but Went on to Convince even Ray Bradbury. How about You, Folks?" by Sam Jordison, guardian.co.uk,
Thursday 29 September 2011
When the film was released Bosley Crowther wrote in the New York Times:
"If François Truffaut were trying to make literature seem dull and the whole hideous practice of book-burning seem no more shocking than putting a blow-torch to a pile of leaves, he could not have accomplished his purpose much better than he unintentionally has in his first motion picture made in English, Fahrenheit 451."
Since then, however, the film has also received plenty of more favourable attention. Wikipedia even tells us that Martin Scorsese says the film is underrated, and had a big influence on him--and that seals the deal for me. How about you?
Link to the full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/29/fahrenheit-451-reading-the-film
Excerpt from "Book Of A Lifetime: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester," written byFriday 26 August 2011
In 1985 I bought a 30p second-hand paperback because I liked the title: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. This fits into a rare category of novel--short science-fiction--and I read it during my first two days as a student. University promised friends, drinks, adventures, but I preferred life on Mars. On the third day, I read it again.
Since then, for me, The Demolished Man has become a comfort book. All writers should have them. Instead of reading for research, or reading to steal, there are books that recalibrate the original, childish joy of reading to escape. This in turn reignites the urge to write and, for me, The Demolished Man is one of those books. Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male (1939) is another.
Link to the full article: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/book-of-a-lifetime-the-demolished-man-by-alfred-bester-2343714.html
Book description: In the year 2301, the wealthiest man in the universe is determined to commit murder in a world in which telepaths are used to detect possible crimes before they can happen.
Book description: On the surface, everything in Mill Valley appeared the same to Dr. Miles Bennell, but some mysterious force is changing the town and killing it slowly.
The Body Snatchers is a 1955 science fiction novel by Jack Finney, originally serialized in Colliers Magazine in 1954.
Product description: One of the greatest and most influential sci-fi films of all time stars Kevin McCarthy as a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming hysterical and accuse their loved ones as emotionless imposters. Plant-like extra-terrestrials have invaded Earth, replicating the villagers in giant seed "pods" and taking position of their souls while they sleep. Realizing that the epidemic is out of control, in a terrifying race for his life, he escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people! Directed by the great Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) and co-starring Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates, and King Donovan. Remade in 1978, 1997, and 2007.
All of your friends and loved ones are gradually being replaced by emotionless, zombie-like replicas of themselves. And they want you to become just like them. When novelist Jack Finney cooked up this creepy theme in the mid-'50s, he may have thought he was creating a timely Cold War parable of takeover from within. But he hit upon even deeper mass-marketing-age fears and laid the groundwork for what has become something of a sci-fi film dynasty.
Finney's idea was, of course, the basis for 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an extremely tight, beautifully made film that has (so far) spawned two remakes—the Philip Kaufman-directed Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978 and now fireball auteur Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers. And the three range from very good to magnificent.
Link to the full article: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20208659,00.html
Book description: A collection of eighteen science fiction short stories features "The Minority Report," in which Commissioner John Anderton's clever use of "precogs," people who can identify criminals before they can do any harm, turns against him when they identify him as the next criminal.
Excerpt from a review by Roger Ebert of Minority Report (2002), June 21, 2002
The movie turns out to be eerily prescient, using the term "pre-crime" to describe stopping crimes before they happen; how could Spielberg have known the government would be using the same term this summer? In his film, inspired by but much expanded from a short story by Philip K. Dick, Tom Cruise is John Anderton, chief of the Department of Pre-Crime in the District of Columbia, where there has not been a murder in six years. Soon, it appears, there will be a murder--committed by Anderton himself.
The year is 2054. Futuristic skyscrapers coexist with the famous Washington monuments and houses from the 19th century. Anderton presides over an operation controlling three "Pre-Cogs," precognitive humans who drift in a flotation tank, their brain waves tapped by computers. They're able to pick up thoughts of premeditated murders and warn the cops, who swoop down and arrest the would-be perpetrators before the killings can take place.
Link to the full article: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/minority-report-2002
Excerpt from the Review of Wolfbane by Anthony G. WIlliams from Sciencefictiofantasy.blospot.com
It is the 23rd century. Two hundred years before, a small planet had entered the Solar System, captured the Earth and the Moon, and pulled them out of their orbit into interstellar space. The controlling intelligences of the wanderer were enigmatic mobile Pyramids measuring 35 yards on each edge and possessing incomprehensible powers. One of them planed off the top of Mount Everest and had sat there ever since. Every attempt by humanity to attack the Pyramids and their planet ended in failure, and the Sun had become just another star in the night sky. The Earth remained habitable because the Pyramids turned the Moon into a mini-Sun. This faded over time and had to be relit every five years, causing a cycle of heat and cold which played havoc with the Earth's climates, sea levels and agriculture.
Humanity had suffered badly from these changes and the population had dropped to just 100 million, most of whom had to survive on 1,000-1,500 calories a day. The perpetual hunger had led to a low-energy lifestyle in which people lived their lives slowly within an elaborate structure of approved social behaviour, with every word and gesture being carefully stylised (the authors have some fun with this). Displays of emotion were solecisms, as was any attempt to take more than one was entitled to. Meditation was the most popular pastime, with the aim being to achieve "Translation": when someone reached the state of having a perfectly blank mind, a swirl (known as an "Eye") formed in the air above them and they disappeared in an instant.
Not all of humanity fitted into this pattern. A small minority, called "Wolves" by the rest, lived selfish, competitive, aggressive lives. When discovered they were seized and ritually killed (in a particularly unpleasant way) by the majority.
Link to the full article: http://sciencefictionfantasy.blogspot.com/2007/10/review-wolfbane-by-frederick-pohl-and-c.html