Pop Culture

Accidental World-Building

I love world-building. Not so much fantasy worlds, it must be said. While I enjoy a well-crafted fantasy world, I don’t get the same kick out of building them as I do warping and twisting our world into an internally consistent alternate (and sometimes secret) history. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy things like the movies in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse”, in which the secret history of the nuclear tests of the South Pacific are revealed to have been attempts to kill Godzilla. These things tickle the perverse imp that lives in my head and constantly asks “what if?”

This happens even when it’s not my world. For example, a pet project of mine for a number of years has been the reconciliation of Gerry Anderson’s Century21 puppet shows into a single cohesive timeline. Yes, I know how geeky that makes me, and no, I don’t care.

When I’m watching old “atomic monster” movies, in my head they’re all happening in the same universe, so I end up looking for possible connections. For instance, in Howard Hawks’ brilliant 1951 movie THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD the character of reporter Ned Scott is played by Douglas Spencer. Douglas Spencer plays an unnamed reporter in the 1954 movie THEM! (which also starred James Arness, who had played the murderous alien in THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD). As far as I’m concerned, that unnamed reporter is Ned Scott, stumbling upon yet more strangeness. I may yet end up writing his further adventures during the mutation-plagued 1950’s, as America’s atomic chickens came home to roost. I see him getting progressively more wild-eyed as he witnesses the crumbling of civilisation in the face of a rising tide of atomic monsters, culminating in the awakening of the kaiju in the form of THE DEADLY MANTIS, GORGO, REPTILICUS and others…

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