John Scalzi – SciFi Movies and Me


Just like every other person in the known world, I have a Facebook account. Right now there’s a “25 Things About Me” meme going around there, in which one dispenses personal trivia like Pez. I wasn’t planning to do it, but then I remembered I had a column to write this week. So: 25 things about science fiction movies and me!

1. The first science fiction movie I saw was a Japanese monster flick on TV. It featured Gamera, and I remember being worried that a giant flying turtle would crush my house and everyone in it.

2. The first scifi I saw in the theaters was Logan’s Run. I recall it not making a whole lot of sense, possibly because when one is six, 30 seems older than rocks.

3. The first science fiction flick that really blew me away was — wait for it — Star Wars. I had my first nerdgasm watching that Imperial cruiser scroll across the screen. I went home, made TIE fighters out of Tinkertoys, and spun around going “pew, pew, pew” for the next six years.

4. The first science fiction movie I was actively disappointed in was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I remember thinking, “I like special effects as much as the next kid, but shouldn’t there be a story here?”

5. The first time I realized I knew more about science than science fiction movie makers was at age ten, when I went to go see The Black Hole and came out annoyed, saying, “Everything in the movie about black holes is just wrong!”

6. Also when ten, I saw Alien and thought to myself, “I am so going to have nightmares.” And then I went home and slept like a baby.

7. When I was thirteen — a newly, manly teenager — I hated E.T. for making me cry.

8. The most recent scifi movie to make me cry: Wall-E. Shut up. I am too manly.

9. The first scifi flick I remember seeing more than once in the theaters was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, mostly to watch the “Genesis Effect” over and over.

10. In high school, a friend of mine proclaimed  no one could possibly take science fiction seriously. I dragged him to Aliens, and when we came out of the theater he was born again. Or possibly he realized he just wasn’t a serious person.

11. The most surprising science fiction movie I ever went to: Robocop. Me and a bunch of friends went in expecting a stupid flick and were shocked to discover it was, like, good.

12. I was physically injured watching Jurassic Park. I was working as a movie critic and sat next to a fellow critic who clutched my arm every time something scary happened, thoroughly bruising me.

13. During the Jurassic Park press junket, I proposed marriage to Laura Dern. She turned me down. My wife is fine with that.

14. Although I recognize The Empire Strikes Back as the best Star Wars film by far, my favorite is still Return of the Jedi — mostly for the Death Star space fight scenes. I mentally block out the Ewoks.

15. My shameful (heterosexual) geek admission: Princess Leia’s bikini in Jedi did nothing for me. Sorry.

16. I was in denial about The Phantom Menace at first. Weren’t we all?

17. 2001 is a brilliant film, and its sequel 2010 is not. But 2010 is more fun to watch a second time. “Brilliant” and “watchable” are not necessarily equivalent terms.

18. I think watchability is more of a virtue than many other observers. I’ll never confuse Independence Day with timeless filmmaking, yet I get sucked into it every time it’s on.

19. If I had my way, they never would have remade The Day the Earth Stood Still.

20. If I could go back in time, I would not kill John Connor, but the Matrix sequels.

21. I’m still waiting for the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai. I’d make it myself, if they’d let me.

22. They won’t let me.

23. They should. Because I would make it awesome.

24. Buckaroo Banzai rights holders: Call me.

25. I once consulted for filmmakers who wanted to remake a scifi classic. They never did pay me, but then, they never made that movie. Even so, I learned my Hollywood lesson: Get paid up front.

Make your own list of things pertaining to you and scifi in the comments. You don’t have to do 25. Five would be fine.

Winner of the Hugo Award and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, John Scalzi is the author of The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies and the novels Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale. He’s also Creative Consultant for the upcoming Stargate: Universe television series. His column appears every Thursday.

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