Tor.com content by

Brian Switek

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Ridley Scott Needs to Stop: Why We Don’t Need Any More Alien Prequels

Someone needs to talk to Ridley Scott. They need to tell him he’s George Lucas-ing, before it’s too late.

Don’t get me wrong. The British director has given us genre fans some great gifts over the years. Blade Runner alone would have been enough, but 1979’s Alien forever changed science fiction. The horror flick explored the notion that there was more to space than shiny starships and Roddenberryesque utopias. Space was also hostile, dark, grimy, and potentially full of slime-dripping creatures whose only goal was infestation.

Given the indelible mark Scott made on scifi and horror with Alien, you’d think it would be a good thing that he’s planned an entire series of films explaining how and why the dreaded, acid-blooded xenomorphs came to be. So far we’ve already gotten 2012’s divisive Prometheus and this year’s Alien: Covenant—already out for home release, faster than a chestburster’s gestation time. But in trying to walk us through the steps of the titular Alien’s genesis, Scott is making the same mistake George Lucas did when he decided to tackle the Star Wars prequels.

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Dinosaurs on the Battlefield

Next week marks the release of The Dinosaur Princess, Victor Milán’s new novel in The Dinosaur Lords series, set in a primordial world with every species of dinosaur, large and small. The books are bloodsoaked—the basic elevator pitch is “Jurassic Park meets Game of Thrones”—specifically because the saurians aren’t around to be pets, attractions, or build a Dinotopia.

Milán employs them as scaly war engines which brings up a question pondered by generations of kids as they’ve assembled plastic dinosaur toys in their sandboxes—which are the best dinosaurs to wage war?

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Monster Mixtape: The Top Ten Terrors

Aliens. Ancient terrors. Scientific experiments gone awry. We’ve spent time with many different monsters over the last few weeks. All of them have a special place in the bloody cockles of my heart, and they might be burrowed into yours, as well. So with this series at an end, I want to know which of the ten aberrations is your favorite, or what alternate horrors are at the top of your list? But first, let’s review which monsters earned a place in my own morbid menagerie…

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Monster Mixtape: The Xenomorph

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.” Let’s talk about the xenomorph from ALIEN.

Space is not a welcoming place. The void is cold, dark, and hostile to life as we know it. The dragons we used to paint in the margins in global map could very well be scattered among the stars now, and there is no better embodiment of those fears than the xenomorph.

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Monster Mixtape: The Thing

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.” Let’s talk about John Carpenter’s The Thing.

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Monster Mixtape: The Many Faces of Gojira

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“If we don’t defend ourselves from Godzilla now, what will become of us?” Let’s talk about Gojira.

[We love this scaly force of destruction.]

Monster Mixtape: Graboids

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“That’s how they git you. They’re under the goddamned ground!” Let’s talk about the graboids from Tremors.

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Monster Mixtape: The Gwoemul

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“Simply put, so far, there is no virus whatsoever.” Let’s talk about the fish monster from The Host.

This one was a little bit of a hard sell when it was my turn to pick movie night. “Hey! Let’s go to a theater in the middle-of-nowhere New Jersey to see a South Korean monster movie!” Maybe it was because the pitch threw my wife off-guard, but she agreed and we were treated to one of the best monster movies in recent memory, if not of all time.

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Monster Mixtape: An American Werewolf in London

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“Beware the moon, lads.” Let’s talk about David from An American Werewolf in London.

When I started this series, I promised myself that I would focus on unique monsters and try to stay away from monster archetypes as much as possible. No vampires. No mummies. No zombies. Ok, trolls sort of break the rule, but Trollhunter was just too charming to leave out. But, as much as I wanted to pick the Grabbers or Brundlefly for the fifth entry in this series, a particular werewolf stuck its fangs into my brain and refused to let go.

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All the Ways SciFi Brings Dinosaurs Back

What’s the point of having dinosaurs around if they can’t terrorize people? That’s the lesson that Jurassic World reminded us of with its $1 billion worldwide haul. But tinkering around with amber-trapped bugs is just one of the ways authors and filmmakers have made dinosaurs part of our world. Here’s a quick primer on the major ways scifi creators put people within reach of dinosaurian jaws and claws.

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Monster Mixtape: The Tusseladd

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“Fairy tales are for kids. Trolls are animals. Predators. They eat, shit, and mate. Eat anything they can.” Let’s talk about the Tosserlad from Troll Hunter.

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Need More Monsters? Watch Earth Beasts Awaken

Godzilla gave me a fondness for man-in-rubber-suit monsters. It seemed that at least one basic cable television station ran a couple of the classic kaiju films during my childhood, and, always anxious for the all-out brawls saved for the last act, I watched as many as I possibly could. Now those summer afternoons feel like ancient history. Computer-generated monstrosities have largely put an end to such practical effects spectacles. But not entirely. The joy I felt at watching the “King of the Monsters” repeatedly pummel his mechanical counterpart has recently been rekindled by Earth Beasts Awaken.

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Monster Mixtape: Arachnid Warriors

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“Your basic Arachnid warrior isn’t too smart, but you can blow off a limb and it’s still 86 percent combat effective.” Let’s talk about the bugs from Starship Troopers.

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Monster Mixtape: The Silicates

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies! Between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

“His body’s all like… like jelly.” Let’s talk about the silicates from Island of Terror.

I admit this one’s a little bit of a sentimental favorite. While mostly-forgotten now, 1966’s Island of Terror seemed to be on television at least once a month when I was a kid. I didn’t appreciate how painfully British the film’s dialog is during those early views, but the bone-sucking silicates creeped me out. And they still do.

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Monster Mixtape: Attack the Block

It’s that time of the year again. There’s a slight chill to the late summer evenings. Leaves are starting to bring out their fall colors. Each day is just a bit shorter than the last. We can all feel what these changes signify. No, not going back to school, but that it’s the season for monster movies!

From the first time I saw Alligator when I was five—which was probably too young given the gore—I’ve been hooked on creature features. There’s nothing guilty about the pleasure. A, B, or Z grade, it’s fun to imagine what might be lurking in dark corners, at the bottom of the sea, or just beneath the soil. So in celebration of cinema’s great monsters and the special effects experts who brought them to life, between now and Halloween I’ll be highlighting ten of the best toothy, sharp-clawed, and mutated aberrations to shred the silver screen. Some are old classics, others are newcomers, but all are awesome.

[Track 1: The Aliens from Attack the Block]