Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, September 25, 2015


They Came From Outer Space:  12 Classic Science Fiction Tales The Became Major Motion Pictures edited by Jim Wynorski (1980)

The subtitle of this anthology stretches the truth a tad.  It is hard to call some of these stories "classics" just as it is hard to believe some of the films they inspired were "major motion pictures."

No matter.  This is a fun book with some pretty interesting stories -- some familiar, some not so much.  There have been a number of similar anthologies published (notably ones edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and by Peter Haining) and They Came From Outer Space is certainly equal to those.

There is a vast difference between a motion picture and the story on which the film was based, if only due to the requirements of the two media.  Most of these motion pictures, however, have veered sharply from their source material, often because of the whims of the producers, directors, scripters, or actors.  A good story does not necessarily mean a good picture, or vice versa.

So, let's check out the stories and the movies.  Something should pique your interest -- either a story, its film, or both.

  • "Dr. Cyclops" by Henry Kuttner (from Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1940; expanded to a novel by Kuttner published under the "Will Garth" pseudonym); filmed as Dr. Cyclops, 1940.
  • "Who Goes There/" by John W.  Campbell, Jr. (from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1938); first filmed as The Thing from Another World, 1951.
  • "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates (from Astounding Science Fiction, October 1940); first filmed as The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951.
  • "The Fog Horn" by Ray Bradbury (from The Saturday Evening Post, June 23, 1951); filmed as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, 1953.
  • "Deadly City" by "Ivar Jorgenson" [Paul W. Fairman] (from If, March 1953); filmed as Target Earth, 1954)
  • "The Alien Machine" by Raymond F. Jones (from Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1949; the first of three stories which made up Jones' novel This Island Earth); filmed as Tis Island Earth, 1955.
  • "The Cosmic Frame" by Paul W. Fairman (from Amazing Stories, May 1955); filmed as Invasion of the Saucermen, 1957.
  • "The Fly" by George Langelaan (from Playboy, June 1957); first filmed as The Fly, 1958.
  • "The Seventh Victim" by Robert Sheckley (from Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1953, as "Seventh Victim"); filmed as The Tenth Victim, 1965.
  • "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke (from 10 Story Fantasy, Spring 1951); filmed as 2001:  A Space Odyssey, 1968)
  • "The Racer" by Ib Melchior (from Escapade, October 1956); filmed as Death Race 2000, 1975.
  • "A Boy and His Dog" by Harlan Ellison (from New Worlds #189, April 1969; expanded by Ellison in his July 1969 collection The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World -- not known which version appears here); filmed as A Boy and His Dog, 1975.
Also included in the book is an introduction by Ray Bradbury, "The Turkey That Attacked New York," which goes into the transformation of his story "The Foghorn" to the motion picture The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms.  The "turkey" in Bradbury's title does not refer to The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms, but to the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong.

Jim Wynorski, by the way, is a producer, director, and screenwriter of exploitation films, among which was the "classic" Sy-Fi Channel film Dinocroc vs. Supergator (which I'm sure is one of Bill Crider's favorites).  This anthology is the only credit given to him in ISFDb

A good book for dipping into.

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