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Dick's Toolbox (cont.)
Apparently the stories were set in the late 1990s which shows how inaccurate predictive fiction can be. The stories like the radio serial ‘Journey into Space’ were long and complex and somewhat reminiscent of the Battler Briton war comics that we also used to devour. Others have compared him to Biggles and given that he also had a tubby batman, Digby, the analogy is pretty spot on. Sir Hubert Guest, Controller of the Space Fleet, sent Dan on missions, was as intimidating as my grandfather The Colonel, and Professor Jocelyn Mabel Peabody, about the only major female, was the perfect English virginal rose.
The art work was simply stupendous and wonderful then and is still bloody marvellous now.
Ah yes, the radio serial ‘Journey into Space’ written and dramatized by the BBC producer Charles Chilton. That was so spooky that I had to hide under the table to listen to it. “My name is Whittaker. Everything is all right,” and the same character’s other line "Orders must be obeyed without question at all times", from the second series ‘The Red Planet’ still haunts my dreams.
But at some stage I started reading Science Fiction omnivorously and somehow I can’t imagine that they came from the school library which was far too seemly and properly English to have what was primarily American colour, light and movement. I used to buy Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine which also had great illustrations some of which I shamelessly plagiarized at art school unaware that at one stage it was edited by the same Campbell that founded Scientology. My favourite story was ‘The Big Back Yard’ where a prairie farmer finds one morning that his back door opens onto another planet. The two interesting and salient points are that a cottage back door is rather a limiting factor to getting through to explore another world, and that the ‘aliens’ are far more advanced but have never invented paint. And they want lots of blue.
There was a long gap from my early classic science fiction readings of Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, Arthur C Clarke, Poul Anderson, Sturgeon and Pohl and many others till I came back to the world via the work of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. ‘Neuromancer’, ‘Count Zero’, ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’, and his other dystopian novels see Gibson create the term ‘cyberspace’ and envision the internet before it existed. His books are modern classics and rather like ‘Blade Runner’ combined with Philip Marlowe - though given that ‘Neuromancer’, his first novel was written in 1984 and ‘Blade Runner’ was released in 1982 perhaps the film informs the novel.
Oh and yes Gibson typed his novels on a manual typewriter.
So is the second ‘Blade Runner as good as the first’? The only thing I will say is that it is noisier - and different. And it doesn’t naturally have the oft-quoted lines, altered from the script and improvised by Hauer on the eve of filming……...
“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.”
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