Recommend some retro sci-fi to a huge futurama fan

Books, movies, tv shows, comics, whatever, I just absolutely love the “retro sci-fi” (sorry, that’s the only way I know how to describe it) feel of Futurama. Since the show is over now I’m looking to get into something with a similar feel (although I’m sure none of will contain the humor, I guess that’s ok…)

Basically I’m looking for anything with 1920s style “Death Rays” :smiley:

What do you guys have for me?

Oooh! Oooh! E. E. “Doc” Smith and his space operas, the "skylark of space " tetrology, and his famous “lensman” series. Death rays, space pirates, inertialess drives, and chain-smoking good guys!

See my sig for a sample!

The granddaddy of them all would have to be E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series, which has, of course, your basic death rays plus (extra bonus!) tractor beams as well. Several major battles in space between large groups of ships are described in vivid detail.

You also get galaxy-wide civilizations with mysterious, highly advanced “good guy” and “bad guy” races directing hordes of client races in a struggle between good and evil, etc.

Much of what followed it owed homage to his pioneering space opera. Heinlein, who was a friend, was careful to acknowlege Smith’s greatness.

And, yes, the dialogue sounds pretty corny to our ears today, but it was in tune with the times.


Skylark series

Lensman series

Sorry, here’s the right link to the Lensman Series

In an interview, Matt Groening said that a big influence on Fturama was Robert Sheckley. Sheckley wrote short, witty, often cynical short stories. I loved his stuff when I started reading SF. Unfortunately most of his SF i out of print. You might be lucky enough to find it in the library, or in used book shops, or on-line used book places like Alibris.

I recommend Untouched by Human Hands, Shards of Space, Notions Unlimited, The People Trap, and Can You Feel nything When I do THis?. His short novels are worth rading, too. Sheckley has been highly influential, but without attribution. There’s no doubt in my mind tha The Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Universe owes a lot to Sheckley’s Dimension o Miracls (Adams admitted being a big Sheckley fan), that The Running Man owes a lot to The Prize of Peril., and that the movie Total Recal has more of sheckley’s The Status Civilization in t that of Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember it for you Wholesae. here have been a lot of sheckley adaptaions, virtually all of them bad.

The 1950s were the era of the funny or hard-hitting short story. If you like Sheckley (or can’t find him) look up the work of Fredric Brown (he wrote great mysteries, too)(not as cynical as Sheckley), Theodore Coggswell, William Tenn, Charles Beaument, and Richard Matheson.

E.E, Doc Smith’s stuff is even more retro than this stuff, and it ain’t funny. If ou’re looking for Futurama-type humor, go with Sheckley, Brown, Goggswell, and Tenn. And don;'t overlook Lewis Padget/Henry Kuttner (the collection The Proud Robot is great!) and Eri Frank Russell.

In terms of movies, the biggest classic is probably The Day The Earth Stood Still. Great black-and-white SF, only vaguely similar to the short story it was based on, and the opening theme even has a theramin in it!

TV (may be very hard to find): [ul][li]Flash Gordon, the B&W serial. One time in college (around 1970) the student union showed a two-hour movie compilation of it.[]Science Fiction Theater. For the most part not exactly what you think of as sci-fi, but stories that revolved around speculative science like bouncing tv signals off the moon, and other stuff such as ESP, UFOs and reincarnation.[]Tales of Tomorrow. Many adaptations of existing stories.[/ul]Radio (lots available on CD or cassette. Some may be available on the Internet for free.): [ul][]Dimension X[/li][li]X Minus 1[/li][]Orson Welles’ original production of War of the Worlds.[/ul]Speaking of Robert Sheckley, I believe “X Minus 1” did a number of his stories. One I’m sure of is his story “Early Model”. It is funny, and it does have some Futurama-type elements. Email me if this sounds interesting.

Checking back with an apology to ** Qadgop the Mercotan **. I took so long to compose my post that his came in ahead of me. I wasn’t trying to ride his coattails, and a good thing, too, because he did a much better job of it.

And a hearty second for CalMeacham’s list, which correctly points out that Smith was all about sense of wonder and not so terribly humorous.

Holy cow, thanks for the links to the Lensman stuff! I just looked at the sample pages and about shit a brick. Even the typestyle is cool! I’ve ordered them immediately. How come I never hear about this classic sci-fi stuff; am I just never paying attention? It’s always Heinlein this and Phillip K Dick that, and they’re fine writers but tedious and not that much fun to read. I’d never even read A Princess of Mars until I saw it mentioned in the notes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

End of hijack.

Movies have barely been touched on. Here’re some of my recommendations:[ul][li]Metropolis (1927). Essentially, the ur-movie when it comes to the art deco, retro-futuristic design aesthetic. Spectacular production design holds up well even today.[/li][li]Metropolis (2001). Beautiful japanese anime although it only bears superficial resemblances to the original.[/li][li]Things To Come (1937). Probably the first SF extravaganza. An epic spanning 100 years from an apocolyptic World War to advanced futuristic society.[/li][li]Flash Gordon (1930s). Cheap production values! Corny acting! 1930s Style Death Rays![/li][li]The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951). An SF classic. Good acting, sophisticated plot dealing with themes of war and peace. Bernard Herrman’s theremin score is rightly regarded as a masterpiece and spawned hundreds of imitators.[/li][li]Forbidden Planet (1956). The most expensive science fiction movie of its time but a commercial disapointment. Freud meets Shakespeare in Outer Space. Plus Robbie The Robot![/li][li]Barbarella (1968). Jane Fonda’s sex-kitten-in-space epic has to be seen to be believed. Not particularly good but strangely compelling due to its psychadelic production design and unusually high cheese factor.[/li]Flash Gordon (1980). Over-the-top, high-camp with an uber-disco sensibility and Queen soundtrack.[/ul]

No worries, HTB. I came in ahead of you only because I postponed posting the links so I could get in first!

No charge. Now enjoy. The “Skylark” stuff is pretty good, too. And finish the damned ERB Mars stuff too! Then you can go to his Venus stuff, and his Pellucidar stuff, and his Tangor stuff, and all 24 volumes of “Tarzan”.

If you play computer games, try out “Fallout”. Set in California after a Nuclear Apocolypse, but everything is very retro. Computer chips have Vacuum Tubes, the Interface has Vaccuum tubes, the weapons are very retro-scifish. Also mutants, robot maids, etc. It’s a great game in it’s own right.

Man I can’t find most of this stuff. I did come across one book of Robert Sheckly’s short stories which was GREAT, but I tore through it in a matter of a day or two and haven’t able to find anything else of his (except some Alien -as in the movie- novels which I am completely uninterested in.)

I still haven’t caught The Day the Earth Stood Still checked in at the library, and nowhere has it for rent. I’d love to read some, if not all, of the books mentioned here but since I’m working full time and I just went back to school I think movies would be easier to digest right now.

What are some good retro sci-fi movies? Robots, “Death-rays”, and flying saucers are a good thing :).

Galaxy Wars?”

“Naah, I’m not in the mood for a historical documentary. I’ve heard good things about Quizblorg, Quizblorg.”

“Guck! I hate subtitles. Alien films are so pretentious.”

“Fellows, fellows, how about a film we can all enjoy? Planet of the Clams: It’s about an upside-down world where lobster is slave to clam.”

“Who invited you? Let’s just see All My Circuits: The Movie.


Some other old SF writers:

Austin Hall
Homer Eon Flint
Murray Leinster
Clark Ashton Smith (he did SF in addition to weird fiction)
Stanley G. Weinbaum
A. Merritt (more adventure than pure SF, but great stuff)
Edmond Hamilton
L. Ron Hubbard
Ralph Milne Farley
C.L. Moore
James H. Schmitz (newer than most of the others in this list)
Leigh Brackett

Also, check out the stuff that’s being published by Bison Books.

After you’ve read some EE Smith, get hold of a copy of Harry Harrison’s “Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers” and be prepared to laugh your ass off.

Some of Andre Norton’s early stuff was excellent retro SF: “Sargasso of Space” featured an alien installation that drew ships in from space so they could be looted, “The Last Patrol” dealt with a group of space rangers working for a space empire that’s falling apart and, well, check 'em out.

Oh, and “Voyage of the Space Beagle” is a hoot. Can’t remember offhand who wrote it.

Ask your Librarian about Inter-Library Loans.

You can borrow books from libraries all of the US!

I can get 8 out of 10 things I can’t get locally!

Often, it’s free. Or at least at a low cost.

They also did “Trouble with the Natives,” “Gray Flannel Armor,” “Skulking Permit,” and “The Iron Chancellor.”

One point about Sheckley: he one of the top three modern SF writers in terms of how many times his works have been made into movies (alas, not usually very good ones). It looks like about five theatrical movies have been made from his stories, and they’re remaking “The Seventh Victim” again.

Ron Goulart wrote a lot of SF humor, though nowadays he’s writing mysteries (starring Groucho Marx!). Definitely similar to Futurama in tone.