Locus Focus: Take Ninety!
Welcome to Outer Space Day: The Movie Edition!
Now that I think about it, I probably should've blended this Outer Space theme with May at the Movies, because all the space settings I know best came from the world of cinema rather than the world of books. While April had a strong opening with a Martian setting from a classic novel, the next two loci of a spaceship and a habitable asteroid kind of took the science out of Science Fiction. =P
Still, I don't think I did too shabbily. This strange collection of space settings still make the point that outer space is often a vehicle for dreams, for satire, and for allegory. Today we see that it is also a great vehicle for horror. So at last, to fulfill the promise that In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, I present one of my favourite cinematic settings of all time.
"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
If you had to go on a long journey, to a remote area you've never seen before, where the only other people are a small colony of settlers, and when you got there, in the middle of a dark and stormy night, the power was off, the people were missing, and the buildings were showing signs of a huge shoot-out . . . well, it would be weird enough without that place also being somewhere in outer space. You know what I mean?
Until now, I never realised just how out of their element the colonial marines sent to LV-426 were. Yes, they work in space every day, and they've all "dropped" onto multiple planets and satellites in the past. But a ghost town is something new--and as unnerving in the SF genre as it would be in a Western. Of course, there's one really big difference between an abandoned city somewhere on terra and an abandoned city on a whole other planet, which is that the latter can involve aliens.
LV-426 may have become a hostile environment for humans, but it makes an ideal habitat for the xenomorphs which have taken over. Director James Cameron communicates this perfectly with the darkly-lit sets that sometimes seem to have more in common with insect tunnels than a manmade structure. Imagine a three-story house so completely infested with termites that it is more of their nest than a human family's home. Perhaps the only thing left to do for that house is "to nuke" the whole thing, too. And then to rebuild it.
The comparison falls flat there because the xenomorphs aren't termites; they're dragons. They're the red flags on the map of the universe telling us not to venture farther, except at our own risk. They're the forbidden fruit that bites back. The wise response would be to wield our own flaming swords (nuclear powered, natch) at the entrance to their world--partly to lock them in and partly to lock ourselves out. We can't conquer everything in the universe, and to imagine that we can is hubris. Sometimes it is best to cut our losses, go home, and make sure the dragon-claimed ghost towns are properly marked on our maps forever.
Question of the Week: Do you agree that "Don't even go there!" is sometimes the wisest advice in the universe?
Image Source: Aliens screen cap