Friday, 2 June 2017

Fallout: Home Counties and British SF: A few notes

Closer to the 50’s
John Wyndham – it’s in the spec. [One Part Fallout to One Part The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Still well. Pour in a measure of Wyndham. Garnish with Neverwhere.]
In detail: Triffids everywhere as a monster. There’s something v. 50s about them; the “We’re always going to need oil” approach to life – no Solar powered cars! Also fits into the Resource Wars of Fallout Canon. [Think also of British Petroleum in Persia]
The Crysalids is a big post-apocalyptic text. Should have some “Blessed is the Norm” stuff – White Horses or some tribe. In the book, it was in Newfoundland. Also psychics.
The Kraken Wakes – Beasties from the sea! More monsters. Problem for the Fisher Kingdoms?
The Midwich Cuckoos – Creepy psychic kids. [“Widdle Wamplight!”. Imagine that in your cranium.]

Dr Who. Inevitable really. I’ve said everything looks like a South Wales quarry, but what’s more.....
In the short stories we’ve already had Dalek like automatons as used to pull carts [Three Sabres; pepperpots; “Physical Manipulation Unit”]. I quite like this as a subtle dig at the fearsome beasties; they’re not destroyers but porters; push, pull, drag, lift. Could even have them controlling trains before the Bombs started dropping. Imagine the terror of that....
Dr Who Androids as other robots: Cybermen, autons. Slightly more technically adept models.  Human interaction. K9 is also an option; robot dogs are not unknw in Fallout.

Thunderbirds, and other Gerry Anderson bits. The future is big, shiny and jet powered. It is not small, full of silicon chips, covered in a fetching floral pattern and able to fit into the pocket of a pair of skinny jeans. To quote stuff I’ve written elsewhere “Wikipedia? Fuck you, here’s the Encyclopaedia Britannica on 24 microfilm vidslugs.”
The world that was looked pretty darn Thunderbirdsy. Think uniforms. Think transport. Think technological devices that take you from place to place without having to get up and show quite how badly you walk. Nobody gets to fly Thunderbird 1, but one suspects that the Fisher Kingdoms have a scaled-down something like Thunderbird 2 as their vertibird/ airship moment. Perhaps it’s even painted like a giant flying haddock.

The Quatermass Experiment (& co). Yes, yes, yes. Tweedcoated scientists (it would not be unfitting to be able to dress like one; see also the costumes of the various Doctors); the British Experimental Rocket Group; fear of Nuclear War. Aliens infesting Westminster Abbey (Or mutants, I guess.). The Scarlet Capsule (Quatermass and the Pit).

Dan Dare. Thrilling space adventures; the Mekon and his Treens. Doesn’t really need an explanation. Some images the same; green uniforms; square jaws. The astronauts presumably a touch less international so far as make up goes.

The Prisoner. Obligatory, really. Any virtual reality bits probably bear a resemblance. As do the nicer bits of the Fisher Kingdoms. And some of the crazier chaps in London. It is an option to dress like an inhabitant of the village.

The Avengers (John Steed and Mrs Peel). Go watch a few episodes if you haven’t before. Not SF really, but the high-tech world of tomorrow spy stuff is relevant. Additional weird spy stuff like The Prisoner. There will always be room for bowler hats in the future. I’ve written before about solid ink.

That Hideous Strength. 1945. The NICE would not be out of place among the governmental institutions of Fallout Canon. The transhumanism expressions also chime nicely with the New Model ARMY.

1984. The SF elements tend to be downplayed versus themes of dystopia (see pre-Bomb Fallout canon), surveillance &c, but telescreens are worth considering. See also Floating Fortresses, Rocket Bombs- functionally the same as some of the weapons of the Second World War, but with a certain twist so far as flavour goes. One should be able to find Victory Gin everywhere.

Not so close to the 50s
Star Wars. I know it isn’t British per se, but the connections (Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, West Country Darth Vader, Princess Leia’s mid-Atlantic accent, protocol droids, the Dambusters, Elstree Studios) are there. Should be some reference – IE, protocol droids, Officers of one sort or the other saying ‘Rebel Scum’, brown robed White Horses teachers. The used-future aesthetic of the original trilogy is relevant. How many times did the Millennium Falcon break down?

Elric, the White Wolf. Fantasy, I know. It’s a tiny detail, but where American Fallout uses a Conan knockoff called Grognar for background material, Home Counties ought to use an Elric knockoff.
Where Conan is a barbarian, of a young vigorous tribe, hardy, strong, averse to sorcery and so forth (all traits exaggerated in stories not written by Robert E Howard), Elric is an enfeebled albino princeling of an ancient and decadent line (a cruel island empire called Melnibone), and only given power by magic and the demon soul-eating blade he carries. Written by a British man (Michael Moorcock) appeared in print 1961. Not just anti-Conan, but certainly worth comparing. A more British creation.

2000 AD. Not 50s/ 60s, but definitely a British comic. Judge Dredd and Mega City One don’t have much of a place in Fallout (the Cursed Earth is an exception; somehow Vegas survived the Nuclear War in the pages of 2000 AD also), but the blasted, poisonous, war-ravished world [“Nu-Earth”] of Rogue Trooper and its baroque weaponry deserve a mention.
(That weaponry includes lazookas, sure; see also hallucinogen spewing mirage tanks, poisonous saboteurs called Filth Columnists and the immortal line “And wherever you go, the sound of our Souther martial music will accompany you and your heroic deeds! Play, boys –play the digi-marches!” – played, of course, on the Synthi-bugle.)

Strontium Dog’s oppressed mutant minority also deserves a mention. Who wouldn’t want bounty hunter (good for the Western angle) Johnny Alpha as a companion?

Details again, but for exotic weaponry Dredd’s lawgiver seems favourite [“Hotshot!” “High Explosive!”]. Johnny Alpha had something similar [“Switching to cartridge No. 4!” - EDIT known as the Westinghouse Variable Cartridge Pistol.]. See also the power-fist like ‘ElectroKnux’ of Strontium Dog.

A touch of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy seems apt. A hapless protagonist only wanting material comfort and security. Having Not-Ford Prefect helping our faceless hero when they get out of the vault would be cool. The graphics of the TV series also are worthy of note.
An element of the Guide is the extent the premise is a parody (little too humorous to just be a pastiche; not pointed enough to be a satire) of Dr Who – our protagonist just wants to go home, no comfortable TARDIS to travel in; you have to hitch-hike; the person showing you the wonders of time and space isn’t an eccentric benevolent Time Lord but a somewhat lazy travel writer who gets his advice from a fairly ropy source.

If we are going to have Not-Arthur Dent appear, he should be more like Simon Jones than Martin Freeman. (I’ve seen Jones called a grammar school boy compared with Freeman; not entirely relevant as an everyman for the 21st C. All the better for F: HC; the BBC of Fallout probably casts more grammar school boys as everymen than not.) original cast only!
All a question of flavour. Not a direct influence –though computers (even impressive space computers that can talk) with ticker tape seems relevant. 

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