Igniting Old Ideas

I’ve watched a couple of alien invasion movies recently, Skyline and Battle:Los Angeles. I was planning to watch this movie again soon but a post on I Am Ipodman’s blog pushed the viewing forward (http://iamipodman.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/have-you-watched-battle-los-angeles/)

Alien Invasion is something that I love but I’ve not found many examples recently that have really impressed me, Aside from Scott Sigler’s Infected and Contagion, and the movie District 9, but those are not what I think of as alien invasion, not in the Independence Day, War Of The Worlds sense. I would love an epic alien invasion story to come out (if anyone knows of one please feel free to share 😀 )

Me and Owen (writing partner) have an alien invasion story that we’ve played with but we never took it anywhere. I think it is far too complicated for our current level of writing ability but one day this could be a story that we go back to one day because like our Project Delphi and Project Apollo universe it is a world that we have batted about for many years and just because we have not been able to get a story up and running in the past doesn’t mean we wont be able to get it going in the future. If a story needs to be told, it’ll be told.


This week’s episode of The Dead Robots Society was really good. It was about description but slipped into Pacing too. I found this episode really helpful and it got me thinking about how I describe scenes and characters as well as how I’m pacing my work.


Here’s the link: http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/01/29/episode-257-setting-the-scene/

Please go over and check it out. It’s an impression show and this episode in particular was very good.

How Science Fiction Films have Influenced Me : Alien Invasion

The last few new alien invasion films that I’ve seen have left me thinking different things about this part of the genre and how I look at my own fiction.  Aside from Project Phoenix I have two other active alien invasion stories going so this is obviously something that gets my attention.  There was Skyline, which if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know my opinions of this film.  Although I’ve had time to reflect on it a little more now.  As I said in the previous post https://petergermany.wordpress.com/?s=skyline I think that there was too little attention focussed on the live action sequences and too much was relied on the special effects.  The actors are all generally pretty good but they are let down by the script and what felt like an inexperienced director.  The special effects were beautiful though.

The next one that I want to mention is Monsters.  For a film which had such a small budget (Wiki says it was about $500,000) Whereas that is apparently what was spent on the live action sequences of Skyline and apparently and another $10-20 million on the special effects, again according to Wikipedia.  But for that half a million dollars a stunning film was made.  It dealt with politics relationships as well as the aliens themselves.  There is a good sense of threat at the right times in the film and it makes that part of Central America look absolutely stunning.  The Director Gareth Edwards really deserves plenty of credit for this film.

Battle: Los Angeles was a film that I actually quite like despite its negative reviews.  Yes it is full of the typical Hollywood clichés, The retiring sergeant, the inexperienced lieutenant, the platoon of marines that have a gripe with the sergeant.  A little hint of romance and so on.  Arron Eckhart puts in an excellent performance, as always, which I think helps the film hugely.  If someone else was playing the role then I’m not so sure that it would have done so well.  One big thing that I liked about this film was that the invading aliens had a form of intelligence about them.  They took cover when they needed too, they had what we would think of as officers, but they also wiped out humanities armed forces within a heart beat (okay yes I’ve done that too) but I think a lot of people are getting a little tired of an alien force that can just wipe out earths armed forces without any real opposition.  I think a lot of people would like to see a story where there is a reasonably fair fight.  Eckhart has said that he would be interested in a follow-up film to this one, so would I because I think there is a lot here that this film could build on.

No Alien Invasion post would be complete without mentioning Independence Day.  I struggle to watch this film now, and all I can think about is that I’ve seen it so many times that its’ too ingrained into my memory and its maybe not got enough to capture my imagination any more.  I can still watch Predator, after a few thousand times, and still find it truly engaging whereas with Independence Day I can’t.

I write alien invasion stories so all these films are food for thought for me but I’ve found that I strip them to pieces too much to really enjoy them.  I think about how I would tweak characters or the aliens themselves and the plot and so forth.  I can picture how a London version of Battle LA would work, maybe that’s because I’ve been writing an alien invasion book for the last seven or so years.

Bad or good these films always spark an idea for me, do I use force shields? what do the aliens look like? what are they after?  Why are they after it?

Independence Day is the film that has influenced, well inspired, me the most when it comes to this part of the genre, but I cannot think of an invasion film which we, as viewers, deserve. Of all the great films that I have seen I cannot think of one which is truly epic by todays standards.  The original War Of The Worlds film was very good, but the Cruise/Spielberg re-make, well enough said, but I think that in this day and age we need another film with the epic-ness of Independence Day but for todays audience.  Even though I struggle to watch Independence Day it is still a bloody good film, but I think that movie goers today expect more from their movies.  I want to see a movie which has the epic factor that Independence Day had but also the depth and intelligence of a film like District 9.

The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells

This is a book that I knew I would read one day but it was not up high on the list of books that I wanted to read, but my granddad gave me a copy of it before Christmas.  One of the things that I was worried about when I started reading this was that I thought it would feel dated and I tend to struggle with books which are not close to our own time.  This was not a problem what so ever! There was little that really drew my attention to the time era, although I did note that the reaction to the invading Martians by us humans would not be any different today, aside from us filming the fleeing masses we were part of with our smart phones.   There had obviously been nothing quite like it and the way that it was written, in the style of a personal account being shared after the event, gave a real ‘being there with him’ feel to it.

The vision that Wells had is breathtaking!  Bearing in mind this book was published in 1898 the things that Wells created is amazing.  I would have loved to see how his tri-pod fighting machines with their heat-rays were received by the people of the time.  Aliens are such a large part of our lives today but back then it must have still been a whole new concept for the man on the street to be introduced to.  The way that Wells describes it all is page turning despite there not really being much about the characters (most don’t even have names) but that did not really click in my head till after I read the book.  I was caught up in the drama of the narrator as he tried to first return to his wife and then as he tried to survive and evade the Martians.  His humanity is pushed to its limits by other characters as is his concept of how the world has changed around him and while he is stranded in a house which, unfortunately has a martian cylinder pretty much in its back garden.

One of the major points to this novel which I’m not sure was really mentioned in the research that I did about it is that mankind has no weapons that can defeat the Martians own weapons.  Their technology is far more superior to that of the time that the rare victories that humanity has are quickly squashed by the Martians.  This has made me think about films like Independence Day where the invading aliens have technology far superior to that of ours and there is nothing that we can do about it.  This fear of an invading intelligent species has lasted since Wells wrote this novel and it sells! Us readers like to see the little guy win, as long as we can see ourselves as that little guy.  There is talk between the narrator and another character, the artilleryman, about how mankind are only ants to the Martians and if we’re in their way they will just kill us.  That is what us, mankind, does as a species.  We colonize what is not ours because we want what ever there may be.  In Avatar this point is explained in a real simple way and I think a lot of people don’t really realise that we have done it since we crawled out of the oceans.

The Influence War of the Worlds has had is numerous.  Whether it is in movies and Television, radio or the written word we can see how this novel has touched us.  I wonder how H.G. Wells feels about how his novel has affected the world that we live in.