Tag Archives: Science fiction


Edmond HamiltonTHE ABYSMAL INVADERS (1929) – Written by Edmond Hamilton. This is a nice mish-mash of elements that are part Creature Feature, part Doctor Who and part Jurassic Park. Hamilton gets bashed as a hack but his stories are harmless fun.

The hero of this tale is Professor Morton, an eminent biologist. He is doing field work in a Southern Illinois swamp when, from caverns beneath the swamp an army of dinosaurs comes pouring out. AND ALL OF THEM ARE BEING RIDDEN BY HUMANOID LIZARDS WHO WIELD RAY-GUNS!

Pterodactyls provide these invaders with their own Air Force and humans are driven before them. The city of Brinton is reduced to a virtual ruin before the onslaught of these Lizard-men. Continue reading


Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


pocket magazine of classicFIVE HUNDRED YEARS HENCE (1818) – Written under the pseudonym “D” this work was published the same year as Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. The story is presented as written observations of the world in October and November of the year 2318.

London has fallen so far in prominence that it is by then just a fishing village, barely known outside of England. Liverpool is close to becoming a ghost town, and Oxford is closing its sole remaining institution of higher education. In Edinburgh of all places, disparaging Great Britain is a crime punishable by being hanged upside down.

Next, D turned their attention across the pond to the United States. Continue reading


Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


ark IIARK II (1976) – In the postapocalyptic 25th Century, the year 2476 to be precise, Earth has been left devastated and transformed by warfare and pollution. Surviving scientists send out a team of explorers in a discount Damnation Alley vehicle and wearing Logan’s Run clothing. The crew of Ark II are to learn what pockets of humanity have survived and help them begin rebuilding civilization.

This half-hour, 15-episode science fiction series was targeted at young audiences, but it’s tolerable for adults, too, if the whole family wants to watch it. Very often the Ark II staff must liberate settlements from tyranny or stop them from repeating humanity’s mistakes of the past.

ark ii vehicleThe crew of the “futuristic” vehicle were Jonah (Terry Lester), Samuel (Jose Flores), Ruth (Jean Marie Hon) and the intelligent chimp Moochie (Adam), voiced by Lou Scheimer. Ark II was outfitted with elaborate equipment that was perfect for experiments, medical emergencies and for everyday survival, like the ability to produce whatever kind of food was desired.

The larger Ark II vehicle also came with a smaller vehicle – the Ark Roamer – for shorter jaunts. Think of the Moon Buggies used by a few of the Apollo missions. Another piece of equipment was the Jet Jumper, a personal flying device depicted by the same stock footage over and over again. Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


pathfinders in spacePATHFINDERS IN SPACE (1960) – Balladeer’s Blog’s recurring segment Forgotten Television examines the half-hour per episode British television miniseries Pathfinders in Space. Fans of early British sci-fi will likely remember that in the 1950s and 1960s the BBC aired several episodic serials of 6 or more parts, like the original Quatermass tales, Object Z and its sequel, plus others like The Trollenberg Terror, which were remade as feature films (The Crawling Eye in this case).

As for Pathfinders in Space, this 7-episode television serial was the second in a connected series of sci-fi adventures that anticipated the kind of kid-friendly, semi-educational fun of early Doctor Who episodes. Target Luna, from earlier in 1960, was the first of the adventures about Buchan Island, a Scottish complex that served as the U.K.’s fictional Cape Canaveral for its space program. (No episodes of Target Luna have survived.)

pathfinders picBuchan Island looked as comically unconvincing as the set from Captain Z-Ro, but in my opinion that adds to the charm of these primitive attempts at televised science fiction. Target Luna introduced viewers to Professor Wedgwood and his children, some of whom would appear in the following serials as well. That 6-episode item centered around the Buchan Island personnel testing manned orbital vessels, setting up the 7-part Pathfinders in Space, in which the Wedgwoods and others flew to the moon.

Okay, it’s obvious that small children would not be sent on such a mission, but Pathfinders in Space was meant to be educational for kids as well as entertaining. Female professor Mary Meadows joins the team of MR1 (Moon Rocket 1) on its mission to the moon.  Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


golem 1980GOLEM (1980) – This science fiction film set in a post-World War Three dictatorship was made in Poland by director Piotr Szulkin and starred Marek Walczewski & Krystyna Janda. It uses the concept of a Golem as an allegory for the creation of artificial humans and examines the motives of those who would do the creating.

Golem is a challenging movie that plays like Eraserhead crossed with the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner or even Kafka. The main character is Pernat (Walczewski), a meek and not too bright man among the struggling lower class in the oppressive dictatorship that has emerged following the nuclear war.

The low budget limits the film’s depiction of this post-apocalypse dystopia to a claustrophobic ghetto environment rather than sweeping vistas of ruined buildings or vast wastelands. Most of the story is set in Pernat’s apartment slums or at the local police station.

PernatWhen we first meet Pernat, who has a kind of “Phil Collins in Buster” look, he is being interrogated about a murder committed in his apartment block. We observe how easily subdued and fairly lacking in intelligence he is, but ultimately the authorities release him because they don’t have enough evidence and he is just one of the suspects.

While timidly taking his leave of the police station, he notices a dead body being wheeled to the morgue and gets enough of a fleeting glimpse to realize the corpse looks just like him. Not even forceful enough to inquire about this, Pernat tries to claim his jacket and hat from the police property room but is mistaken for another person (hinting that there is yet another person who looks like him and was brought in by the police in an unrelated matter). Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies, opinion


end of an epochTHE END OF AN EPOCH (1901) – Written by A. Lincoln Green, this novel about a world-threatening disease presented the tale of brilliant young Adam Godwin, a recent Oxford graduate who pursues his interest in microbiology. During the course of his research into antitoxins, Adam becomes aware of the controversial Dr. Azrael Falk.

Falk is in India, experimenting on human test subjects with his hybrids of assorted bacteria and other microorganisms. Godwin becomes so fascinated with Dr. Falk’s heinous yet productive work that it strains his relationship with his fiancee Evelyn Morpeth, daughter of the wealthy Sir John Morpeth.

masc graveyard smallerUltimately, Adam starts neglecting Evelyn to the point that she lays down an ultimatum: Godwin must choose between her and his research. Adam chooses his research, so the engagement is ended, and the willful Evelyn joins her father’s expedition to the North Pole.

Dr. Falk relocates to London and hires Adam Godwin as his assistant. Adam’s admiration for the man’s scientific genius increases even as his personal dislike for Falk’s selfish nature threatens to overwhelm that admiration. When Azrael sufficiently trusts Adam, he reveals to him that he has developed a combination of dengue, tetanus, influenza, sleeping sickness, bubonic plague and meningitis. Continue reading


Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


andromeda nebulaANDROMEDA NEBULA (1967) – This movie was adapted from the 1957 novel Andromeda: A Space Age Tale by Ivan Yefremov. Unusual for sci-fi writers in the Soviet Union under Stalin, Yefremov courageously defied some of the political limitations that the blood-soaked dictator and his regime placed on fiction. Ivan is credited for, among other things, breaking free of the Soviet policy that limited futuristic tales to just a few years in the future. He continued that trailblazing in his works after Stalin died.

andromeda nebula picAnd that brings us back to Andromeda Nebula. The story is set over a millenium in the future, when an Age of World Unification (under a Soviet system, of course) was followed by the establishment of the Ring aka the Great Circle. The Ring is a loosely affiliated assortment of planets who exchange scientific and cultural information and try to facilitate each other’s efforts to colonize space.

In the universe of Andromeda Nebula, faster than light travel does not yet exist, so communication between planets takes between decades and centuries. This imposes certain limits that similar fictional planetary alliances don’t have to deal with, and the movie focuses on the dramas that could unfold within those confines. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


space commandSPACE COMMAND (1953-1954) – Long, long before the recent television series of this name came Canada’s Space Command. James “Scotty” Doohan was Phil Mitchell, Robert Barclay played Frank Anderson, the 20-something young man who was the ostensible star of the show, Harry Geldard portrayed Captain Steve Cassell and Austin Willis was Dr. Fleming.

William Shatner made a guest appearance on one episode, so he worked with James Doohan before Star Trek, just like he did with Leonard Nimoy. Special effects on Space Command were as cheap and unconvincing as they were on any other science fiction program from the time period.  

This series was broadcast live but was kinescoped like various other series back then and episodes were distributed around Canada following the live broadcast from Toronto. Space Command ran from March 13th, 1953 to May 29th, 1954. Out of the program’s supposed 150 episodes, only 1 has been found so far, but the search continues. Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


alpha alphaALPHA ALPHA (1972) – This time around in Balladeer’s Blog’s Forgotten Television category comes this German sci-fi series which ran for 13 episodes from May 17th to August 2nd of 1972. Every episode of Alpha Alpha was written and directed by Wolfgang F. Henschel and ran for 25 minutes, meaning it would nicely fit a half hour time slot with commercials.   

alpha astronautThis television series was a German variation of other country’s programs like Quatermass, The X-Files and so many others both before and since. 

Karl Michael Vogler, who played Rommel in the film Patton, starred as Alpha, the top operative in a never named and top-secret organization dedicated to investigating unusual phenomena, extraterrestrial entities and the like. There were even conspiratorial hints at an existing one world government behind the scenes.

lilith ungererLilith Ungerer costarred as the operative codenamed Beta, Arthur Brauss played Gamma, Horst Sachtleben was Dr. Simak and Gisela Hoetter provided the female voice of the outfit’s computer. Along with Karl Michael Vogler, these five were the only actors to appear in all 13 episodes. Heinz Engelmann showed up twice as the Chief. Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


mascot sword and gun pic


A reader requested that I review the Marvel Comics sci-fi dystopia/ alien invasion series Killraven, the Warrior of the Worlds. I already did from 2019-2020, but in honor of New Year’s Eve here is a look back at one part of that review, which was posted on New Year’s Eve of 2019 into 2020, the exact date that the story itself was set on. 

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven Arena KillAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #37 (July 1976)

Title: Arena Kill  

Synopsis: NEW YEAR’S EVE, 2019 into 2020, which is why I held off the extra day or two to post this review, since I wanted it to actually appear on the REAL December 31st, 2019.

Northern Florida, in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge along the Suwanee River. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. They have encountered another of the pitifully few bands of humans who also defy the aliens.  

We jump right into the middle of some action, as Killraven is pitting his sword against the two battle axes wielded by Brother Axe, the leader of this rebel colony. Brother Axe’s dozens of followers and Killraven’s own Freemen stand in a large circle around the combatants, watching the battle.

Killraven 2The cause of the conflict soon becomes clear – Brother Axe is skeptical that Killraven really is THE Killraven, the world-famous scourge of Earth’s alien conquerors. He suspects KR and his band may be fakers trying to bamboozle him or – even worse – undercover human quislings trying to pinpoint the location of Brother Axe’s rebel band so they can betray the band to their alien masters.     Continue reading


Filed under Superheroes