Between Dimensions: It’s My Orbit and I’m Sticking to It

Between Dimensions is a continuing column about science-fiction and other unearthly matters written by Curt Dwyer.

I had always suspected I was just a step off the main path. The day I found the list confirmed it. Browsing Amazon’s science fiction community, I had drilled down to their top 10 dystopian novels from the last 50 years. I had read them all. No surprise there. But what did it really mean? I was lost in that familiar fugue when Film Junk surfaced. It was an opportunity to review sf movies as well as be editor-at-large on world-tipping issues central to the science fiction genre. So here I am.

I came to science fiction through horror. As a three year old, I was often read bedtime stories. I don’t recall the stories. I do recall the reader. A silver metal strip – bent roughly to approximate a nose – ran down the middle of his face. It was held in place by an elaborate construction of white plaster bandages. Bordered by the bandages were the reader’s eyes – circled by navy blue and deep black skin tones. The reader was my father. He was the goalie for the Georgetown Raiders. Before goalie masks. From these bedtime interludes, I emerged with two passions – hockey and horror.

By the ’50s, my interest in horror had mutated into holocausts – nuclear to be specific. I quickly realized the dire social consequences of displaying that particular obsession in high school. So I sublimated my fears into outer space just in time to take a seat at 1953’s War of the Worlds. In full color and eye-filling detail, the aliens relentlessly pursued Gene Barry and Ann Robinson across a rapidly disintegrating California. Even the atomic bomb (dropped by a flying wing – how cool) couldn’t crack the alien’s protective shields. Humanity was ready for the dumpster.

I confess I never saw the ending coming. (Unfortunately, I’m much better at guessing endings now). As that gnarly, scarlet red, fever glistening alien doomed by earth’s viruses reached out of the saucer, I was amazed at how a great story, well-directed and persuasively shot could become totally real in your head.

George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was another matter. It was showing at the Camden Theatre in North London. Brilliant movie. A genre buster. I was immediately sucked in to the absolute terror. Trapped in a rickety old farm house. Surrounded by the sloppily resurrected dead looking for fresh flesh. Unfortunately the vast majority of the British audience was in stitches – laughter not surgical – from being totally incapable of going with the premise. That movie was another epiphany. Some concepts just don’t travel well. Only with 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead has it become apparent that the Brits now get it.

Besides working on a Vin Diesel perspective and an alienography (two different subjects actually), I am also trying to suss out what the pope is doing with an observatory. Paranoid in the extreme, I came upon this nexus of faith and cosmology when Brother Guy, the Pope’s astronomer spoke to the local astronomy club. (Yes we have a real observatory here called the Custer Institute. And an hour away is the world’s third largest collider. That’s no coincidence).

Brother Guy grabbed his audience’s attention with the front page of the National Enquirer – the one with the devil’s face asteroid. He seemed mildly pissed (scratch any holy man and you’ll find attitude) that the Vatican hadn’t been credited for saving Earth from this particular menace. He then went on to share his real passion – analyzing the components of meteorites. I confess I left after the 6th metallurgical histogram. But not before I realized that this geek façade was just cover for a much deeper purpose.

Stay bookmarked.

  • Adam

    Great first article Curt! Can’t wait to read more of your take on SF and film!

  • Adam

    Great first article Curt! Can’t wait to read more of your take on SF, science and film!

  • Wow. Sean, you’ve managed to find a writer who’s older and weirder than I am. (I say that with all due respect, Uncle Dwyer. :-))

    I must say that I’ve never appreciated Night of the Living Dead. It just seemed like a hokey, low-budget schlockfest of a movie when I first saw it in the early 90’s. I know many respected movie critics have the same reverence that you have for the movie, Curt.

    However, I do love George Pal’s War of the Worlds and I even like Steven Spielberg’s version. I think I like a story with a moral. I think I’ll even like the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    We should do a crossover “Treknobabble Between Dimensions” article.

  • He may be older than you but I don’t think he’s weirder. ;)

    You’re going to have to step up your writing now if you want to keep up. I want two Treknobabbles a week!

  • No offense Reed, but I think it would be pretty damn hard to find anyone weirder than you, LOL :). Just kidding man.

  • Is this Seans uncle? I thought he killed himself in Faces of Death!

  • Yep, Curt is my uncle. Film Junk is becoming a real family affair.

    The one who killed himself was “Uncle Budd”.

  • Interesting…especially the fact that brits laughed at Night of the Living Dead.

  • Regarding Film Junk becoming a real family affair, my adoption papers are awaiting approval.

    My parents laughed at The Exorcist and they’re not even English. (And they’re not Satanists either!)

  • The one who killed himself was “Uncle Budd”.

    For the love of god, please don’t remind me of Uncle Budd, :)

  • Uncle Budd was before my time (with Film Junk). Which Film Junk podcast has that story? Or will a search for Uncle Budd bring me the sordid tale? Any Film Junk mythology that makes Drew squeamish requires repeated listening.

  • Just google Budd Dwyer, but be prepared… you can never go back!

  • Reed! Don’t google Budd Dwyer! You may be in your 40’s and I may be in my teens, but I still think that if you google him you’ll highly regret it! Just go to my youtube channel (click on the link on my name) and watch my Budd Dwyer videos (yes for a period of time I was obsessed with uncle budd, but i just started forgeting about him, until sean brought him back up! :) ) and i’ll explain to ypu why you shouldn’t watch. I hope this isn’t to late! Maybe I can save one person from Dwyer’s Wrath!

  • BTW, listen to the weirdest celebrities episode and you’ll hear Jay’s unforgettable tale that truamatized me forever.

  • why does my first comment have to be moderated but not my second?

  • Drew, whenever I use the word “drug” in a comment, I think my comment is moderated. I can’t see a word in your comment that might be suspect. Could it be “youtube”? I’ll let you know if this comment is moderated.

  • Nope, youtube is fine.

  • interesting, maybe i’m just contriversial. drugs

  • andrew

    ah those crazy brits. . .

    so i had no idea that a column of this nature would ever come out of your macbook. i am impressed and intrigued and look forward to reading episode 2.

  • Doug Dunning

    Curt, why aren’t you watching ‘Blade Runner’?