Surviving A Science Fictional Year: Family Sci-Fi

Next up is E.T. Similar to Back to The Future, I think the last time every person in America saw E.T. “was way back when I was eight,” which more than accurately reflects the last time I saw it. I keenly remember there being a boring section in the movie when I saw it, somewhere in act two, where I found it difficult to pay attention. Seeing it again more than twenty years later, I’m not sure what I would have been referring to. E.T. holds up remarkably well (in fact, all the movies in this list do with the exception of Short Circuit 2). I didn’t actually realize, when I last saw it, that E.T. was such a complex movie.

The first part of this movie reflects the lonely, slow moving, isolated, boring elements of science fiction I’ve come to idolize the last few years: the kind of uncomfortable silence that forces you to reflect and self analyze. It’s also kind of scary. If I didn’t know this was Spielberg when it started, I might think it’d be a horror movie. Which is interesting: awful and awesome come from the same root word, awe, which comes from the Norse agi, meaning fear. Now awe has come to mean, “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.” It’s the feeling of being overwhelmed that I think is most readily identified: we feel overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers, overwhelmed by our child’s first steps, likewise overwhelmed by a car accident, or the sudden realization that we are a speck on a speck orbiting a speck floating in a speck. That overwhelmed feeling can become awful (full of awe – full of fear), or awesome (awe-same, same coming from Norse samr). It’s a fascinating difference to emerge, because those two words should literally be the same, but Alien gives way to awful, while E.T. gives way to awesome. Self reflection can lead to painful truths or ecstatic revelations.

Fun fact: Spielberg initially wanted E.T. to be like Poltergeist, but with aliens, which might account for the latent awful.

That was my central thought throughout the movie; Transcendence is a gamble. E.T. might be terrifying, he might die, or we might all become psychic.

Click Page 3 for Batteries Not Included and Flight of the Navigator!

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jh montgomery

I'm a guy with opinions. Some of those are about science fiction. Like a voice shouting into a hurricane of voices, I write about science fiction for Hush Comics. I grew up watching the original Star Trek with my mom in our basement. I have shockingly few memories of it, apart from the silver and gray grid covered VHS boxes old Star Trek tapes came in, but it left it's mark forever. My first memory of being in a movie theater was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A group entered dressed as the crew of Star Trek, acting the part (the man dressed in Vulcan robes addressing the man with a middle-aged lesbian perm as captain). I nearly lost my mind with the excitement of sharing a theater with Leonard Nimoy. No no, my mom would tell me: that's someone dressing up. Impossible. Later, I would walk in on my parents watching the wrong movie at the wrong moment and be mortally terrified of alien abductions from the age of eight to thirteen. This fear was so strong, I couldn't watch the X-Files until it came to Netflix. As a teenager, hearing the theme song coming from another room in the house would give me anxiety. Science fiction, at its best is the pursuit, and evolution, toward transcendance: cultural, technological, spiritual. Transcendance marked me early, and forever.

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