visceral meets cerebral
Quatermass and the Pit
Amazing and totally satisfying amalgam of science, mythology and alien invasion filmed in a grainy documentary style for maximum realism.
Saw it the first time in 1958 when I was six
My family weren't sci-fi fans at all, but we watched it anyway, and I loved it. No hiding behind the sofa for me!
An extraordinary amount of detail remained stuck in my mind throughout the intervening decades - and not just the scary bits, although there were plenty of those, like the horrid way the ground rippled around the fallen Sladden, or the pulsating image of the horned devil in the sky over the Pit, or the heart-in-throat moment when the bulkhead was opened and the dried out remains of one of the creatures suddenly dropped from its mess of webbing.
When I eventually got hold of the video of the series, I was amazed to find how much of the plot and the ideas and concepts behind it had also remained vivid in my mind. Details such as the linking of the name Hobb with horned devils in legend - for over forty years I'd even recalled the exact scene where Roney pointed to a representation of one in the corner of a painting.
And Roney was my kind of hero - brilliant, quirky, witty and ultimately extraordinarily brave. I can still recall how attractive I found him even at the age of six, and the terrible feeling of loss when it was obvious he was gone for ever, having sacrificed himself to save the world.
The series made a huge impression on me - visually and dramatically, but also intellectually. Quatermass and the Pit opened a window, not just into the world of science fiction, which I took to like a duck to water, but to a rational, intelligent, humanistic and humane view of the world, which I hope I've lived up to.
King Solomon's Mines
I think this was the first fantasy/sci-fi book I ever read, although it could have just as well have been something by Wells or Verne or Poe - we had a lot of books around the house. Some people might not count it as sci-fi, but the culture is such a creation of Rider Haggard's that I think it counts, although She is more obviously fantastical.
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