What Was That?

When people ask me how long it took me to write The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, I tell them over 40 years. I’m kind of not joking. It took years to absorb all the science fiction and fantasy culture I needed to recreate the Golden Age of Sci Fi. Bradbury, Heinlein and Asimov alone took up most of my 14th year. And then there were all the movies, games, and TV shows that just had to be watched as well. Had I known where it was all leading, perhaps I would have read more literary works and watched more French cinema—but not everyone can predict the future as well as Asimov.

Point is, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. Frankly, I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember, and I’m left with some odd memory fragments. Like chips in my teeth I keep poking with my tongue, these missing pieces are irritating. I thought I’d ask you, the Tor readers, if you could help me fill in some of these gaps. Don’t be a wiseguy and send me a link to “Let me f’in Google that for you.” This is how we fans used to do things. And if you have things you can’t quite remember—let’s hear about them.

  1. One of my earliest memories is of a cartoon about a boy who owns a Pegasus statue that comes to life under certain circumstances. What was it?
  2. This super-freaky movie took place on the moon. As the astronauts bounced around, a tree-alien thing would appear and flash stop-lights at them. Then a big ball of aluminum foil would devour them. Swear to God, that’s how I remember it. So, seriously, what the H?
  3. In this book, miners excavating energy from another dimension accidentally release a strange spider-like creature on an unsuspecting city. In spite of their best efforts, the creature builds a web dome over the metropolis that not even a nuclear blast can destroy.
  4. Now this may be two movies I’m confusing into one. I recall a lunatic asylum. Then, at the end, people are standing on a beach looking at the ocean and great islands are hanging in the sky. Not much more to go on. Sorry.
  5. In this YA book, a couple of kids living on the moon discover a secret cave full of flowers—they trip their asses off—in a YA sense.
  6. This British movie ends with sex “evolving” two good-looking people into some kind of giant talking monkey that strikes ominously across the country-side.
  7. Here’s one for all of those who shared my experience of growing up in Taipei, Taiwan. This show featured a woman who would turn into a scary, hairy ghost version of Cousin It and freak me the hell out.
  8. Back when rolling the dice meant Dungeons & Dragons to me, and not Craps, we occasionally broke out this odd board-game. It was somewhat like Risk, in that you tried to occupy and hold territory—but it was fantasy-based: plus you could send one of your pieces on a dangerous journey high into the mountains where you could appeal to the gods for heavenly help.
  9. I always assumed this boy-and-his-robot book was an Isaac Asimov tale, but I’ve never been able to prove it. Told from the robot’s POV, he/it feels such a strong attachment to his boy owner than when the kid’s family leaves him behind, he escapes his new slavery and follows. He/it becomes a celebrity at the end because of his humanity.
  10. A simple children’s storybook about a moon boy lost on earth. At one point, he is imprisoned, but as the moon wanes, so does he—until he can slip through the bars and escape.
  11. Bonus: Superman vs. Batman at some point in the early seventies. Superman becomes some kind of bad-ass in a black costume with a starburst symbol on it. Batman is worried.

So? Let’s see how long it takes to find out what these things are. I predict less than a day. But you never know.


Paul Malmont is the author of The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, out this month from Simon & Schuster. Find out more at www.paulmalmont.com and the Facebook page. He tweets from @pmalmont.

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