The False, Sci-Fi Religion
By Derek P. Gilbert, Host of SkyWatch TV
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If H.P. Lovecraft used horror to introduce the idea of contact with an alien “other” to the masses, the growing popularity of science fiction in the twentieth century established ET as a stereotype in popular entertainment. It’s hard to imagine, but our great-grandparents would have had no idea what the phrase “little green men” was supposed to mean.
Nineteenth century forerunners like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells demonstrated that fiction based on speculative science would sell. Verne’s 1865 From the Earth to the Moon was the first major work to feature space travel; in 1898, Wells produced the first ET invasion story with his classic The War of the Worlds. Another Welles—Orson—transformed The War of the Worlds into a compelling radio drama on Halloween Eve in 1938, although the story that the program caused a national panic is, sadly, a myth. (Newspapers lost a lot of advertising revenue to the new medium during the Great Depression and took advantage of an opportunity to condemn radio—an early example of “fake news.”)
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