Did you know January is Vintage Science Fiction month? I didn’t until I saw the hashtag on Twitter, which piqued my interest, because I love old sci-fi. You can feel the enthusiasm and energy in a lot of those old space travel stories, written in a time where mankind was just venturing beyond Earth’s atmosphere, and everyone was excited about the possibilities.
January is also great timing, because I’ve got a retro sci-fi short story coming out in Broadswords and Blasters Issue 12 later this month. You might find more than one of these tropes in it. Or not. Read it and see. 😉
Are you venturing into the cold reaches of space and don’t know what to wear? No need to worry. Just pop a fishbowl over your head, and you’ll be fine.
In the future, nobody wears pants. That’s what I get from this picture. I guess the characters are on a planet with an atmosphere–just not one they can breathe–so exposed skin is okay. But you can definitely find vintage covers of people in straight up space who just popped a helmet on over their normal clothes and seem perfectly fine. I love it.
You know what else people in the future like? Bikinis.
Sashes over bare chests are apparently in fashion, too, and coordinate well with space helmets.
And if bikinis aren’t your thing, how about a cute dress?
It’s all about the accessories: hat, gloves, rapier. And I love that guy in the back who looks like he wandered in from the set of Robin Hood.
Anyway, when choosing your outfit, just make sure not to forget your space boots.
Space is huge. Mars is 33.9 million miles away from Earth at our closest point in orbit. The distance to other planets and solar systems is mind-boggling. Some of that is home to stars, planets, asteroids, etc., but the vast majority is just emptiness.
That’s a lot of space to commit crimes in.
Hence, we need space cops. Or space rangers. Or the space patrol.
Whatever you call them, their job is to cruise around space, responding to distress calls, tracking down space pirates, and thwarting alien attacks.
You can find a whole lot of examples of this trope in comics, novels, and television in the 50s–and I don’t get why it’s not just as popular today. We love our police dramas on TV. Setting one IN SPACE seems like a no-brainer.
Sci-Fi, especially stories set in outer space, often deals with super-advanced technology the likes of which we can only dream of. You’ve got rockets that can travel light-years in less than a day, robots so intelligent they can pass for human, fishbowl helmets that cover a person’s head in the void of space–really complex stuff.
That’s why I love when characters forget all that and just fight each other with swords.
Or axes. I’m not picky.
A lot of this comes from the planetary romance genre, kicked off by A Princess of Mars, which is all about sword duels, daring rescues, and Western-style battles on–you guessed it–an inhabited planet Mars.
I’d consider Star Wars an example of this, too. For all the giant spaceships and moon-sized super-weapons, the fate of the galaxy often comes down to two guys using mystic superpowers and swinging lightsabers at each other.
It’s hard to find a more quintessential science fiction trope than robots. I could go on and on about all the awesome robot characters sci-fi has given us, but I’ll just link to someone else’s list instead.
This trope is great because, out of all the outlandish ideas in old sci-fi, it’s one that’s pretty close to coming true.
I mean, I own a robot. It can’t exchange sassy banter with me or protect me when I’m in danger, and I can’t give it commands with my brain…
But I can press a button, and it vacuums my house for me. And that is awesome.
It’s also nothing compared to what more complex and expensive robots can do these days. Give it a few years, and I’m sure we’ll be giving telepathic commands to robot butlers–at least until the inevitable robot uprising, anyway.
Aliens in our Solar System
Despite using high-powered telescopes and launching far-traveling probes, scientists have found no signs of intelligent life in our solar system–which is really a bummer. Look at what we’re missing out on!
The Outlaw Queen of Venus! She’s like some kind of Valkyrie cowgirl superhero! It’s a shame the atmosphere of Venus is mostly carbon dioxide and reaches scorching temperatures of over 400 degrees in reality, because if this is any indication, I could be living my best life there.
Although, the lack of intelligent life might be a blessing in disguise.
A lot of old sci-fi features invasions of monstrous aliens from Venus, Mars–take your pick of any planet in the solar system, really. Today, alien invasion stories tend to give the invaders a home in another galaxy.
But yeah, kind of disappointing that we don’t have alien neighbors in our solar system. Unless they’re so advanced that they can hide from us, which, given the hot mess that is the human race… I can’t really say I blame them.
- The Digital Comics Museum – a collection of vintage, public domain comics. There’s a lot of awesome stuff here in every genre you can think of, all free to read.
- Pulp Covers – a treasure trove of old pulp covers. The site’s tagline is “The Best of the Worst,” which is so true.
- Vintage SciFi Month – check out the hashtag on Twitter for links to book reviews of fantastic old sci-fi novels.
Do you have a favorite vintage sci-fi book or movie? Love classic Star Trek? How about Flash Gordon? Let me know in the comments!