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From Alpha Prime To Zathura: The A To Z Of Sci-Fi

Get ready for a warp speed trip around the A to Z of sci-fi. Hold on to your butts!

By Tom ChapmanPublished 6 years ago 27 min read
Image: Columbia Pictures

Can you make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, can you tell your critters from your gremlins, and how is your Klingon recently? Ever since the H.G. Wells novel in 1897 and the War of the Worlds transmission in 1938, the human race has found itself gripped in science-fiction fever. The only cure is to draw the curtains, stick on a remastered-super CGI-special edition-cut of your favorite film, and start polishing your lightsaber. Get ready for a warp speed trip around the A to Z of sci-fi. Hold on to your butts!

A is for Arnie

Image: Orion Pictures

One thing you can assure is that "he will be back." Well, maybe not, given the lackluster performance of Terminator Genisys. However, when it comes to sci-fi actors, Schwarzenegger is up their with Leonard Nimoy, Sigourney Weaver, and Patrick Stewart as a faces of the genre.

A former Mr. Universe, Schwarzenegger broke into sci-fi with Conan the Barbarian in 1982, where he stole the show in his tiny loin cloth. From there on out it was all robots and guns. Perhaps Arnie's biggest role was as the T-800 in James Cameron's thriller The Terminator; a role he would return to three more times, including in the wildly successful Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991.

Outside of playing the shades-wearing nudist, Schwarzenegger took to science-fiction with Total Recall, The 6th Day, and Predator. Nowadays he is better known for his political career as the (former) Governor of California and his cameo roles in the Expendables franchise. Even at 69 the Austrian-American can still pack a punch at the box office!

B is for Blade Runner

The 1982 classic brought another sci-fi legend once again to the forefront of the genre. Already famous for his role as smuggler Han Solo in the Star Wars films, Harrison Ford capitalized on Blade Runner just after he was Indiana Jones. Ridley Scott's dystopian film starred Ford as the titular Rick Deckard, a retired "Blade Runner" drawn back into his old life.

A wholly new look at the future, Blade Runner was rightly entered into the National Film Registry in 1993, and has since been voted one of the best sci-fi films ever. Scott goes as far as to call it his most personal film:

This was such a brand new presentation of an arena, which is loosely called the future, that a lot of very specific invention went into this.

At one point Scott was eyeing a sequel titled Metropolis, but as with most of these things, nothing came to pass. There have been several continuations of the franchise in novel form, but a true sequel with Ford reprising his role is set for an October 2017 release. Despite earlier reports, Ridley Scott will not be returning, however the film will also star Ryan Gosling, so that is some consolation.

C is for C-3PO

Bonny and Clyde, Homer and Marge, Maggie and Glenn, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Anthony Daniels has played the walking Oscars statue for the entirety of the Star Wars franchise and beyond — that includes animation and specials (yes, even THAT Holiday Special).

Whereas several Star Wars characters went down the CGI or animatronic route, more often than not it is actually Daniels himself inside the golden suit. Only the C-3PO you see in Episode I: The Phantom Menace was puppeteered by someone else, and despite not donning the suit, Daniels still provided the voice.

Sometimes an annoying side character, luckily Threepio came across as an endearing fan-favorite and not a Jar-Jar car crash (Jar-crash) he could've been. Daniels originally turned down the role, but was won over by concept art of the droid. Now the 70-year-old seems lovingly typecast as the golden goon, appearing twice as him for the academy Awards, once in 1978, and again in 2016. Parodied as "the gay robot of Star Wars," The Simpsons may have poked fun at the camp nature of our metal mate, but we wouldn't have him any other way.

D is for DeLorean

With the synonymous gull-wing doors, the DeLorean DMC-12 is now one of the best-known sci-fi vehicles out there (move over TARDIS). Thanks to its role in 1985's Back to the Future, the DeLorean instantly became a classic car. The car itself was full of fads, but in Christmas 1980 DeLorean teamed up with American express to offer 100 24k-carat golden DeLoreans for $85,000 - only two were ever sold.

As for the famous film appearance? There were seven DeLoreans used for the Back to the Future films, and only three survive to this day. Two were abandoned, a third was destroyed in the train wreck at the end of Back to the Future II, and a fourth was a fiberglass replica used for flight scenes, but was ultimately scrapped. Of the remaining three, one is in a private collection having been restored, and the final two belong to Universal Studios.

Despite halting production in 1983, around 9,000 DMC-12's were rolled off the production line in Northern Island. It is estimated that around 6,500 still exits if you fancy looking one up. For those still mourning the loss of the DMC, fear not. A new company, DMC Texas, bought the remaining rights and parts of the original company, producing a limited run of "new" DeLoreans each year.

E is for Evolution

Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

If cinema has taught us anything, it is that evolution is a bad thing. It has even become a parody of itself - Evolution (2001) may be seen as a David Duchovny laugh-fest, but it actually poses the interesting concept of lifeforms with a faster DNA than us as a race. Then you have Vincenzo Natali's bio-engineering nightmare in the horrifying Splice (2009), and it is enough for you to never visit the lab again.

If the Planet of the Apes franchise is anything to go by, it is our fury cousins who will be taking over- for eight films (and one coming in 2017), we have seen what happens when an underdeveloped species overtake the human species. All show the disastrous consequences of when humans become bottom of the pecking order.

Add into the mix the likes of the X-Men films, with accelerated evolution, and we are basically f****d. The X-Men comic books pitch the superhero team as a mutation, but 2011's X-Men First Class describes mutants as the next stage of human evolution. You even have the short-lived mutant Darwin and his ironic motto of "adapt to survive". Oh, and don't even get me started on Kevin Costner's weird gills in Waterworld. Basically if you are a human, give up now!

F is for Fly

Brundlefly! It isn't just Jeff Goldblum's glistening abs that bring sci-fi fans "buzzing" back to David Cronenberg's 1986 horror. With the ability to shock until you drop, The Fly mixed a clever story with sate of the art prosthetics. Deemed too horrific for cinema, the above (and now infamous) Monkey-Cat scene never made the cut. Chris Walas (of Gremlins) was the man behind The Fly's stellar SFX - picking up big at the Saturn Awards for make up.

We will never really know if The Fly was a well-timed piece of satire on the AIDS crisis, but many look beneath the surface of your standard "doomed doctor" piece to see more. Cronenberg himself remained coy on the issue:

There was something about The Fly story that was much more universal to me: aging and death—something all of us have to deal with.

There was (of course) a maligned sequel, which featured just one of the original cast, then you had a comic book continuation, and then the rumors that the film would be "remade" After many rows with studios, and despite his best efforts, Cronenberg has never managed a fully realized sequel to the original. The director did bring the story back for an opera based on The Fly in 2008, but that is a story for another day.

Talking of The Fly's Chris Walas, he has a lot to answer for in creating those cute little Mogwais. In 1984 when Gremlins was released, viewers didn't realize the painstaking work that had gone into creating the green goblins. The SFX team had originally tried using monkeys as gremlins, but abandoned it when the test animal became spooked when wearing the gremlin mask (can you blame them?). Walas's team resorted to classic puppetry, as well as robots that were prone to on-set breakdowns and rogue movements. Nevertheless, the final look made the film a critical and commercial success.

For the sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, new guy Rick Baker had Walas's big shoes to fill. Brought on board when producers promised he could have free reign on more diverse gremlins, Baker gave us the varied cast of creatures from The New Batch, including: the flasher, Brains, and of course Greta Gremlin.

Tim Burton would be proud, The New Batch still used puppetry, but relied more on stop motion - for example the"Bat Gremlin" was nearly entirely stop motion. If we ever get a third outing, our gremlin pals will undoubtedly be reduced to CGI "Smurfs".

H is for Her

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Spike Jonze's 2013 masterpiece is a Black Mirror take on how far technology is taking us. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, a man who develops a relationship with an A.I. life form (Scarlett Johansson). Nominated for five Academy Awards, Her won best screenplay, which is pretty impressive considering the first draft was completed in just five months.

Jonze first played with the idea when making I'm Here in 2010, but took the themes further for Her. The isolated nature of the film praised Phoenix's performance, and Johansson's soothing tones as "Samantha" were also met with widespread approval. Directing the likes of Being John Malcovich and Where the Wild Things Are, Her is commercially Jonze's most successful film to date, grossing $47 million worldwide.

I is for Island

No good can come from an island, especially if the likes of Shutter Island, The Island, or The Island of Doctor Moreau have taught us a lesson. One such place that should definitely be crossed off the tourist bucket-list lies somewhere between LA and Sydney. For six seasons we slowly watched the cast of ABC's LOST get picked off one by one thanks to the mysterious island.

When the Dharma Initiative set up camp in the 1970s, it looked like it could bring a change a fate for the TripAdvisor rating of the LOST island. Alas, they were all slaughtered in a purge, and the island remains at 1 out of 5 stars - good amenities, but hard to find. However, at least there is plenty to do on LOST's island: harboring wild polar bears, smoke monsters, and an evil Man in Black.

Since the landing of Flight 815 in 2004 things went from bad to worse. The island was moved through several time periods, which left some of the characters stuck in 1977. The corrupt Charles Widmore later arrived and pretty much everyone found themselves taking a dirt nap. So yeah, probably somewhere to avoid next summer!

The JMC (or Jupiter Mining Core) are responsible for for a rather famous "big red ship". Since 1988 we have been embroiled in the adventures of the JMC's mining ship Red Dwarf and all who sail in her.

Red Dwarf pitches the last man on Earth (Craig Charles), a humanoid descendent of the common cat (Danny John-Jules), the ship's hologram (Chris Barrie), and a servant robot (Robert Llewellyn) against the perils of deep space. The long-awaited 11th Season of the show is currently airing on UK channel Dave, but unlike a lot of Britain's long-standing comedies, Red Dwarf has never made it to the big screen.

Developing a cult following, spin-off books, and even its own conventions, Red Dwarf is a pastiche of the entire sci-fi sensation. Rarely since the Weyland-Yutani corporation has a company had such an impact on the space genre.

K is for Klingon

Image: CBS

The ancient alien race that were the original antagonists of the 1960s Star Trek series have come a long way. Creator Gene L. Coon didn't intend on stirring the pot in Gene Roddenberry's series, but the Klingon race has since been compared to both the Soviets and the Nazis. Long before people were learning Dothraki, Klingon was the language to master, and was part-created by the original Scotty (played by James Doohan) specifically for Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The race was named after Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan who served with Roddenberry in the LA police. The crew couldn't agree over the name Klingon, but because no one offered anything better, it stuck. Originally created with shoe polish and long mustaches, the Klingon race are nowadays distinguished by their notably ridged foreheads - this wasn't added until the motion picture in 1979, and was never explained.

Perhaps the most famous Klingon to grace the world of Star Trek is Michael Dorn's Lieutenant Commander Worf - appearing in more of the franchise's episodes than any other actor. There was once a rumored Worf-centric spin-off, but it never came to pass. A favorite in pop-culture, perhaps Worf's biggest achievement is the song "Worf's Revenge", featuring on the EP Banned on Vulcan by Voltaire.

The same role which saw Goldblum expose his rugged chest (yet again) on your standard office desk, Jurassic Park brought one of cinemas greatest characters to our screens. Dr. Ian Malcolm is the "too cool for dino school" hero from Spielberg's reptile theme park - sure, he spends the second half of the film laid on his back, but Malcolm's heroic man vs. T-rex battle is the film at its best.

However, amongst his Rex chase, and his speech on chaos theory, lies Malcom's golden line. When discussing the fact that all the dinosaurs are female, Dr. Malcolm point out that they shouldn't be playing God. A speech which becomes all too poignant in the following films - say it together now, "life....er..finds a way.

M is for Multipass

Image: Columbia Pictures

Some sort of Mastercard/passport hybrid, the Multipass featured in Luc Besson's zany Blade Runner wannabe The Fifth Element. The film could've come off as corny, but The Fifth Element has stood the test of time remarkably well. With an all-star cast, including Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman, as well as being the most expensive European film ever (at the time). Declared as both the best and worst summer blockbuster of all time, The Fifth Element divides critics.

As well as becoming Jovovich's de-factor catchphrase, the Multipass is one of the most memorable parts of the film - well that and Jean Paul Gaultier's costumes. There are even how to guides on how to create your own Mutlipass. You would have to be pretty dedicated to create your own, but hey, if you have the time!

N is for Nuclear Bunker

Image: Bethesda

Setting up superb films like Take Shelter, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and even the Resident Evil films, fallout shelters are the must-have accessory for the end of the world. However, for a real taste of radioactive waste we should turn to the world of video games. Threat of nuclear war is whats sends the inhabitants diving in Bioshock, and the whole idea of escaping a nuclear holocaust is what forms the premise of the RPG #Fallout games.

Set in between the 22nd and 23rd century, the post-apocalyptic Fallout series is influenced by the retro ideas of the '50s - hence its uber-cute mascot Pip Boy. You are the typical player who frequently come across "dwellers" on your travels. Taking refuge inside a series of nuclear bunkers called vaults, the dwellers often have horrific backstories. The best part of the games is the storyline of each individual vault and what goes on inside. For example:

Vault 77: a lone dweller known as the "Puppet Man" was left only a box of puppets as company. He soon went mad and created whole personalities for his puppets, even becoming mixed up in a murder mystery plot with them. When he escaped the vault he went on a murderous rampage with puppets in tow.

Vault 108: stocked with a cloning machine, by the time the player reaches the vault the only people left alive are clones. What's worse is that the clones can only say one word - "Gaaaaaaary".

Vault 106: another experiment gone wrong, Vault 106 had psychoactive drugs pumped into the air filtration system. When the player arrives they find a message scrawled:

Scribbledy bibbledy hoodelly hoo.Wing wang bricka bang, choo choo choo. Upsideup popsicle tastes like blue. Ghosts in the hall go boo boo boo!

Vault 11: Like a rip-off of The Hunger Games, Vault 11 had to elect one human sacrifice each year. If they abided they would live with all the amenities they want and be safe for another year. A coup broke out an all but five died - the five decided to commit suicide and thereby missed the yearly sacrifice. Afterwards it was revealed that the system was automated, rewarding dwellers irregardless of their decision.

Adrian Alexander Veidt, better known as Ozymandias, is the wealthy humanitarian who forms a large part of the Watchmen graphic novel. The part was brought to life when played by Matthew Goode in Zack Snyder's 2009 film of the same name.

It turns out that Ozzy uses his company as a front to install a nefarious scheme to discredit superhero Dr. Manhattan. The story revolves around the mystery of "Who killed the Comedian", but Watchmen soon delves deeper into issues of Cold War, nuclear strikes, and what is right or wrong. Without giving too much away, Ozymandias is not as innocent as his baby blues and luscious Herbal Essences hair may lead you to believe. However, the end of the story is bitter-sweet, leading you to question whether Veidt really is evil.

Taking his name from the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias goes beyond the realms of your one-dimensional comic book villain. Dubbed "the smartest man in the world", Ozymandias ranks an No. 21 on IGN's "Top 100 Villains" - it must have something to do with the mass genocide of the NYC population!

P is for Parodox

Image: Fox

Oh wouldn't time travel be great - go back and shoot Hitler, find a sports almanac, stop that time you wet yourself in fourth grade? However, it isn't all sunshine and flux capacitors in time travel. Time paradoxes are the biggest stumbling block for those looking to take a blast to the past

The 2012 film Looper deals with this in a gruesome fashion, as Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt duke it out as the same person from two different periods. We all know that Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown has a lot to say on the issue, and we saw how Marty McFly got dangerously close to creating his own paradox in the creepy mother/son storyline from Back to the Future. However, for truly f****d up paradoxes, head on over to Planet Express and Matt Groening's Futurama.

In arguably one of the cartoon's best episodes we see our crew travel back in time. Crash landed in Roswell 1947 they have no hope of repairing their ship with parts from the future, so take a break by messing with history. Rewriting the Roswell lore, it turns out that squiddy Dr. Zoidberg is in fact the Roswell alien, and Phillip J. Fry accidentally kills his own grandfather in a nuclear blast. With no other option, he has to "do the nasty in the pasty" and sleeps with his future grandmother. Screwing with the family tree, it means that Fry becomes his own grandfather...did you get all that?

Q is for Quantum Leap

Airing for five seasons from 1989, Quantum Leap gave Scott Bakula something to do until Star Trek: Enterprise. As Dr. Sam Beckett, Bakula plays a scientists who is trapped "leaping" through dimensions into other people's bodies. Sam is accompanied on his journey by Al, the cigar-smoking hologram.

The schtick of the show was that Sam met some rather famous people on his travels. He taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk, saved Marilyn Monroe's life, and even told Donald Trump to invest in New York real estate - yeah, thanks for that one!

Constantly parodied in other shows, or having the idea stolen (Sliders), Quantum Leap is one of the best dimension premises out there. Unlike many shows, Quantum Leap managed to wrap its storyline before cancellation - a luxury most modern sci-fi shows can't afford. Despite a seemingly closed ending, there were signs of a continuation for the show. In 2010 the series seemed to be leaping forward when Bakula told Comic-Con that creator Donald P. Bellisario was writing some more, however it has been all quiet since.

R is for Robocop

Image: Avatar Press

The mean streets of Detroit can be a nasty place, as Officer Alex Murphy found out when he was gunned-down in the line of duty. Where that may be a bad enough day for anyone, Murphy then found himself as a tool of Omni Consumer Products (OCP), who recruited what is left of his body for the Robocop program. A humanoid swiss army knife, Robocop was the ultimate "protect and serve" in the fight against crime. With armor made from kevlar laminated titanium, Roboco's arsenal of weaponry included machine guns, rocket launchers, and a recharging pack for when he was feeling low on juice.

Installed with three prime directives, Robocop was not like those rogue Terminator robots you hear so much about. Over the course of the franchise the directives are tested:

  • Serve the public trust
  • Protect the innocent
  • Uphold the law

There was a mysterious fourth directive that is "classified". It turned out that Robocop couldn't harm any OCP employee - this resulted in him not being able to harm the corrupt Dick Jones in the original film - that was until the company fired him. The whole concept of directives is further explored in the 2001 miniseries RoboCop: Prime Directives.

There have been several incarnations of Robocop: three films from 1987-1992, the mini-series in 2001, and a reboot (starring Michael Keaton) in 2014. Robocop is known for its graphic content and gratuitous violence, which might explain Frank Miller's take on the comic series of Robocop.

S is for Scully

If there was ever a woman who knew how to pull off a pant suit, it was Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully. The ravishing red head has been part of paranormal investigation duo Mulder and Scully since 1993. Catatonia even wrote a song about it. Pre-dating Ross and Rachel, Mulder and Scully were the hottest couple of the decade.

However, it was frequently Anderson who stole the show. Dubbed one of the most iconic female characters of sci-fi, Scully even has her own "Scully Effect." It is believed that her position as an FBI Agent and doctor inspired many young women to follow a similar path. Anderson says she is aware of this, and told Vulture that she frequently gets letters thanking her for being such a great role model:

We got a lot of letters all the time, and I was told quite frequently by girls who were going into the medical world or the science world or the FBI world or other worlds that I reigned, that they were pursuing those pursuits because of the character of Scully. And I said, 'Yay!'.

Anderson returned to the role this year for the long-awaited tenth season of The X-Files, once again teaming her with Duchovny full-time, who had only made sporadic appearances from the seventh season onwards. Playing Scully opened the door for Anderson as a powerful actress, and she went on to star in the likes of Hannibal, The Fall, and most recently American Gods.

Based off Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, there have (so far) been two film adaptations of the Total Recall story, as well as a novelization and several comic books. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, the original Total Recall was the Blade Runner of 1990. Schwazenegger played Douglas Quaid, a inner-city grunt who seemed happily married. Quaid's life is turned upside down when it turns out that his wife (Stone) may not be who she claims, and that he is actually a Secret Agent.

Dubbed one of the most expensive films of its time, no one can put a budget on exactly what Total Recall cost to make - but it was worth it! Richard Dreyfuss, John Hurt, and Patrick Swayze were circled for the role of Quaid, but Schwazenegger's appeal to star was eventually accepted.

The 2012 remake/reboot had Colin Farrell in the role of Quaid, and Kate Beckinsale as wife lori. The film was nowhere near as well received as the original, and despite a strong cast, it just wasn't the same.

As for the original? Schwarzenegger had intended on reprising his role for the imaginatively titled Total Recall 2, but the film never came to pass. The sequel was due to follow another of Dick's short stories, The Minority Report, but it was scrapped - some elements of the script survived, and were ultimately incorporated into Spielberg's 2002 success Minority Report.

U is for Umbrella

Across the #ResidentEvil series of nearly 30 games, six live-action films, comics, and animation, we have seen the rise and fall of the Umbrella Corporation and its supercomuputer The Red Queen. Under the banner of "Our Business is Life Itself", the Umbrella Corporation was founded in 1968 by Lord Oswell E. Spencer, Sir Edward Ashford, and Dr. James Marcus. Umbrella soon grew to become on of the world's largest pharmaceutical conglomerates.

Using medicine as a front, Umbrella focussed most of its research on bio-organic weapons (BOWs). Largely falling under the care of corrupt Albert Wesker, Umbrella is most famous for creating the T-virus - a pathogen which can mutate hosts into a zombie-like state and reanimate the dead. When Umbrella was found guilty of its crimes in 2003 it lead to the company's collapse. Ultimately the world was safer with Umbrella, and without it, an era of bio-terrorism on the black market began.

With facilities all over the world, previous Umbrella holds include the Arklay Mountain mansion, an Antarctic submarine base, and most famously the Raccoon City "Hive". The escape of the T-virus from the Arklay Mountain facility was the plot for the Resident Evil game in 1996, and since then it has spiraled out to even include two games solely focussed on Umbrella - Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (2007) and Umbrella Corps (2016).

In the films it was the Raccoon City incident which lead to the decimation of the human population, and formed the basis for Milla Jovovich's Alice in 2002's Resident Evil. It is by no means perfect, but the Resident Evil franchise is the most successful video-game-to-film series ever, shooting up an impressive $915 million.

V is for Vendetta

Image: Vertigo

Alan Moore's dystopian take on the future - V for Vendetta started as a comic strip in 1982, then became a full graphic novel. Set in an alternate 1990s London, V for Vendetta takes place after a nuclear war of the '80s in a fascist ruled country. With concentration camps, curfews, and a police state, the story tracks a masked vigilante with a penchant for wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. It is up to V and his new protege Evey Hammond to make a difference.

Illustrated by David Lloyd and Tony Weare, V for Vendetta was a well-written satire of the British politics system, which is exactly why it is frequently compared to George Orwell's 1984. The story gained something of a boost thanks to the 2006 Warner Bros. live-action, starring John Hurt, Stephen Fry, and James McTeigue - the film also cast Natalie Portman as Evey and Hugo Weaving as V.

However, the story doesn't end there. The adoption of the "Guy Fawkes" mask by internet radicals Anonymous means that V for Vendetta is more relevant now than ever. Moore himself has even passed comment on Anonymous, telling Entertainment Weekly:

I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.

W is for Westworld

Based off Michael Crichton's 1973 film, HBO has reimagined Westworld as a ten-part TV series. If you haven't heard the hype, Westworld is set to be the next Game of Thrones - and we couldn't agree more!

With Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, Rachel Evan Wood, and James Marsden, there is no end of talent on the show; backed up by Thandie Newton and the elusive third Hemsworth brother.

Unwitting members of the public pay for the luxury to visit #Westworld, an expansive wild West theme park with robotic hosts. On the plains of the desert you can live out your wildest fantasies without fear of retribution...or so you think.

Ed Harris rounds off the cast as the mysterious Man In Black. With motives unknown, M.I.B. is searching for something hidden deep within the park. To add to this, it isn't long before things start going wrong and the robots start acting up.

The original film spawned a sequel Futureworld in 1976, and a shot-lived series Beyond Westworld in 1980. With the first series of HBO's show costing $100 million, and plans to run for up to six years, can the network do justice to a legacy that is 43 years old?

X is for Xenomorph

Image: H. R. Giger

Debuting in 1979's #Alien, the xenomorph has been chest-bursting into our nightmares ever since. Unlike the friendly E.T. version of aliens, xenomorphs are predatory in their actions, explaining their matching with another well-known alien race in the maligned Alien vs. Predator films.

The first script draft by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett needed a way to have the creature getting on board the Nostromo, so the pair conceived the idea of a sexual relationship with the host bodies. O'Bannon reveals in the documentary Alien Evolution:

This is a movie about alien interspecies rape...That's scary because it hits all of our buttons.

Original Alien director Ridley Scott credits the design to Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger - Giger's original work was titled Necronom IV , and the xenomorph was developed from there.

Giger was brought on to design the original xenomrph, the chest burster, and even the home planet of LV-426, but we are still yet to see an origin of the species on our screens. We did see a homage of sorts in Prometheus, when a xenomorph-like creature named the Deacon appeared. Scott promises that the sequel, Alien: Covenant, will explore this further. Could we finally see the birth of the infamous xenomorph we have come to love?

Y is for Yoda

One of the most powerful, and oldest, Jedi in the universe, no sci-fi list can omit Frank Oz's backwards talking green goblin. The claim to fame for make-up artist Stuart Freeborn is that he based the design for Yoda off a hybrid of his own face and Albert Einstein's. Alongside Chewbacca, Yoda is one of the #StarWars franchise's greatest creations - voted as Empire's 25th greatest movie character of all time

Standing at a minuscule 2' 2', Yoda's walking scenes used dwarf actors Deep Roy and Warwick Davis (neither were credited). Whereas Yoda remained in puppet form even as late as The Phantom Menace in 1999, the next two incarnations of Yoda became CGI. Many felt that we lost the original essence of the character, but it did allow the character to participate in fight scenes that he couldn't previously.

Oz has provided the voice in all the cinematic version of the films, although Yoda was voiced by John Lithgow in the radio dramatizations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; Tom Kane picked up the voice for several video games, as well as the Clone Wars animation. With rumors that Yoda could be returning for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII, talking backwards once again Frank Oz could be.

Z is for Z

Image: Paramount

World War Z to be factually correct! World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is Max Brooks's 2006 post-apocalyptic novel about how to survive a #zombie outbreak in modern times of political strife. Although the origin of the outbreak unknown, the book tracks the outbreak of the virus and spread around the world, recounting tales through a series of interviews.

Brooks cited Studs Terkel's 1984 novel "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two as inspiration for World War Z, although he also incorporates his previous book The Zombie Survival Guide too. He wanted to create a book which moved away from the campy dressing down of zombies, and wanted to hark back to the early days of George A. Romero's ghouls. Meticulous research was undertaken by Brooks: he cites firearm statistics, the army, and politics. This lead many to see the book as a social commentary on politics in the Middle East, with Palestine forming a large part of the novel.

Whilst Brooks's book is superb, the name is probably better known for the 2013 film World War Z starring Brad Pitt. The film did away with a lot of the book in favor of making an action film - Brooks remains tight-lipped on the film, but has said that the only thing the two now share is a name. Cashing in the zombie craze of the likes of #TheWalkingDead, World War Z became the most successful zombie film of all time, and a sequel was quickly green-lit. Even in late 2016 the film is yet to go into production, scuppering plans of a June 2017 release date.

So there we have it! A backroads tour of the galaxy with a few stops on the way. From autonomous robots, to killer machines, intelligent life, and the not-so intelligent human race. I don't know about you, but I need to go for a lie down in a darkened stasis chamber, I think I am feeling some side effects of cryo-sleep. Beam me up Scotty...

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About the Creator

Tom Chapman

Tom is a Manchester-based writer with square eyes and the love of a good pun. Raised on a diet of Jurassic Park, this ’90s boy has VHS flowing in his blood. No topic is too big for this freelancer by day, crime-fighting vigilante by night.

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