One of the best SF films ever, Forbidden Planet (1956) introduced us to a mysterious planet where monsters abide - and Robbie the Robot. This classic film touched upon a lot of science fiction themes that still hold our fascination today - man vs machine, incomprehensible monsters of our own making, discovering mysterious new worlds. It's the latter I'm going to touch on today - discovering mysterious new worlds.
I believe we have a fascination with the unknown, the tug to discover new worlds and new civilizations - after all, it's the theme from Star Trek. After the rush of exploration in the 19th century and the sense that our planet had been thoroughly mapped, writers turned their feverish imaginations towards outer space with a rush of stories, comics and movies based on other planets. It's still the new frontier of imagination, still thoroughly unmapped. Open wide to interpretation.
I still feel the thrill of the unknown when viewing the space saucer cruising over the fantastical landscape of Forbidden Planet, or when the crew of the Nostromo answers the distress call from and alien ship in Alien, when Captain Kirk and his crew landed in a new landscape every week as did the Robinson family in Lost in Space. It's not knowing exactly what's out there - and will it hurt us or help us? Most of the time, you know it's going to hurt! Which is why science fiction is sometimes so close to horror as a genre.
The unknown and how we react to the unknown is a source of endless fascination, and a mysterious planet with a culture yet to be discovered kick-starts the explorers thrill.
My heroine Tirana Albaster in A Touch of Magic is a scout for the Universal Alliance Settlement Exploration Unit. Her job consists of making sure newly discovered planets are suitable for colonization. She and a military force land on the planet Samhain, where two previous scouting units had disappeared, as had a starship full of New Wiccan colonists, Lalith's People.
The thrill of writing that story was finding out what the planet had in store for her - I never knew until I wrote it. I discovered it was mainly a choice between love and duty. Yet I barely had time to touch on the edges of Samhain and it's unique culture before the story had to come to an end. I'm sure I'll be returning to the planet Samhain to continue explore it further.
A Touch of Magic will be out in ebook on 31 October, and available as part of Samhain Publishing's first print anthology, Beginnings, on 21 November.