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Movies on the Radio: Science Fiction

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston

  Science fiction is a genre made for the movies. The narratives make viewers question reality, think about space exploration and ponder human existence. Sci-fi films have produced some of the most financially successful films in movie history.

Host Frank Stasio talks with film experts Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, about favorite sci-fi flicks including selections from the North Carolina chapter of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Read some of the quotes from Gordon, Boyes and listeners about some of their favorites.

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Gordon: I ask my students to imagine being in an audience in 1902, and you’re not only seeing this new technology of the cinema, but you are being taken to the moon: The set, the props, the costumes and what it would mean to imagine that.

Metropolis (1927)

Gordon: One of the most imaginative scenes is the animation of this machine man, Maria, by the inventor. It’s got to be one of the most influential science fiction films because it has all the gadgetry. It has all the flashes of lights. What (the director Fritz) Long did that’s so unparalleled is imagine a whole universe of architecture and transportation and really created this epic film, a whole world of the future, and it’s not a perfect world.

Boyes: Every science fiction film after it owes a debt to his vision, his social themes, his visual imagination. It’s truly an amazing, amazing film.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Gordon: This is a film that, no matter how you feel about it, has entered our popular culture in incredible ways. Even people who haven’t seen the film could get a HAL reference. It’s a really important and transitional film in terms of being philosophical.

Star Trek

Boyes: The Star Trek family is your family. You get attached to the characters over the decades.


Listener Brian Hawkins: It’s satirical, it’s funny and it’s also on point. It was made almost 30 years ago and we’re still talking about a lot of those things. I feel like in some ways, it’s really ahead of its time.

Gordon: I like that Brian used that phrase, ‘ahead of its time,’ because that’s precisely what science fiction tries to do. Good science fiction does it in way that’s convincing and also enduring so that when you return to it, there are these resonances of the present because it’s projecting into the future.

Other favorites from Gordon, Boyes and listeners include: The Thing From Another World, Just Imagine, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Brazil, Back To The Future, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Chronicles Of Riddick and Attack The Block. 

Richard Dansky - Thing From Another World (1951)
John Kessel- 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)
Tommy Lee Edwards - Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Natania Baron - Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Sam Montgomery Blinn - Blade Runner (1982)

Jenni Elion - Wrath of Khan (1982)
Winifred Metz - Brother from another Planet (1984)
Brian Hawkings – Robocop (1985)
Bruce Nawrocki – Brazil (1985)
Kieran Moreira - Back to the Future (1985)
Lisa Shearin - Galaxy Quest (1999)
Mur Lafferty - The Matrix (1999)
James Maxey - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Ursela Vernon - The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Mark Van Name - Serenity (2004)

Andrew Neal - Attack the Block (2011)

Now watch some of the most memorable scenes from sci-fi movies.

The Jurassic Park series is back with Jurassic World in theaters right now, but who can forget the original? Must go faster!

Or rewatch the appearance of the creature in Alien.

Relive Avatar in this chase scene. Avatar is the highest-grossing movie ever, with more than $2.7 billion brought in from the box office.

Hady Mawajdeh is a native Texan, born and raised in San Antonio. He listened to Fresh Air growing up and fell in love with public radio. He earned his B.A. in Mass Communication at Texas State University and specialized in electronic media. He worked at NPR affiliate stations KUT and KUTX in Austin, Texas as an intern, producer, social media coordinator, and a late-night deejay.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.