It’s here. Black Friday. One of the darkest days in the life of man.
Actually, it’s not so bad if you shop online, which would give you time to read and/or watch some really good science fiction, right? The Gang of Meddling Kids has assembled a few recommendations for you:
Stephen R. Donaldson’s Gap series.
The Gap digs so deep into the darkest corners of the human psyche that you don’t know where to turn. First off you have the murderous space pirate Angus Thermopyle who somehow ends up with the young and beautiful Morn Hyland as his co-pilot even though she was an officer of the law. It’s all too obvious that Angus has illegally used brain implants to control her and everyone at Mallory’s bar is looking to the gallant space captain Nick Succorso to spirit her away to freedom. It may sound cheesy and cookie cutter swashbuckling but, if you’ve read any of Stephen’s work, you know it just won’t be. I’ve read through this series twice and am considering another go because I still don’t know who the hero is. It’s more like just about everybody has their moment but then reverts back to what they were or grows into something else and it’s not always good.
Nova by Samuel R. Delany – A bit of the classic Moby Dick theme turned SciFi with a dive into the interpersonal relationships among the crew. But still, they all follow the mad captain to his doom.
Blade Runner – based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, this movie is a dark noir starring Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a tired, burned out special kind of cop called a “Blade Runner” who gets called back in to hunt down a group of “replicants” — androids with a six-year life span — who have escaped the moon and are now on a murderous rampage on Earth. Over the course of the investigation, Deckard meets and falls for the daughter of the replicants’ inventor, and everything leads up to the ultimate question of what it is to be human.
H.P. Lovecraft (“The Call of Cthulu”, “At the Mountains of Madness”, Necronomicon), David Wong (John Dies at the End), Michael West, Brian Lumley
TV: Dark Matter (is that “dark” enough? no pun intended); Falling Skies, the new Star Trek movies got fairly dark; and Tom Carpenter’s Digital Sea Trilogy.
The Wanting Seed – dystopian novel from the 1960s that touches on sexuality, overpopulation, infidelity, fluid morality, and societal overthrow. And still had kind of a sweet undertone throughout.
One Hand Clapping – a boring English car salesman racks up a ton of loot through extra-ordinary means, then becomes convinced the world is headed to a bad turn.
And anything by Ray Bradbury.
To Serve Man (Damon Knight, Nov 1950) – one of the first “twist ending” stories in science fiction, it first appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction and was later adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Benevolent aliens visit Earth and make everything better, and along the way mankind tries to translate their book, To Serve Man, realizing after it’s too late that the word doesn’t mean what they think it means…
The Talisman (Stephen King & Peter Straub) – a dark cross-country tale about a boy and his Wolf. The two trek across the US in two dimensions as twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer works to save his mother. Along the way, he’s chased by dark forces and finds himself in plenty of situations that are both life-threatening and emotionally soul-sucking. And it’s a tremendously satisfying read.
John Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”, the basis for for the various versions of The Thing; “I have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison, about the last humans alive, trapped by the A.I. who hates them; the films Dark City (Aliens experimenting on humanity + Film Noir), Event Horizon (the first warp drive ship returns from the test run that caused it to disappear years ago… from Hell), Altered (Alien abduction… in reverse. The GOOD film from the Blair Witch director); and Alien, of course.