The new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame official opens tonight at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). In honor of its 20th anniversary, the SF&F Hall of Fame is inducting 20 new creators and creations, in addition to its 2016 regular inductees: the films, “Star Trek,” “Blade Runner,” and authors Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
The MoPOP exhibit includes interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 35 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ film, “The Empire Strikes Back,” the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film “Hellboy.” We were able to dig up some interesting tidbits on a couple of the inductees.
Founded in 1996 at the University of Kansas, the SF&F Hall of Fame relocated to its permanent home at MoPOP in 2004. Each year, nominations are accepted from the public, and the final inductees are chosen by a committee of industry experts. You can nominate your favorites for next year’s inductees through April 16th.
From Asimov to “The X-Files,” the Hall of Fame celebrates the creators and works that have opened new avenues of discovery and made significant contributions to the genres. The 2016 inductees include authors, computer games, composers, actors, artists, and a comic book super-power Although many of the honorees are familiar, a couple of them may surprise you.
One of those surprises is “Wonder Woman.” It is the first time a comic book has been inducted. WW has been a favorite since she debuted in “All Star Comics #8” in 1941, and is considered to be the most famous female superhero of all time for her brains, brawn and beauty. Her induction is perfectly timed–a new “Wonder Woman” film is scheduled to be released this year.
Not too long ago, “she” became a “he” in order to succeed in the male-dominated field of sci-fi. Alice B. Sheldon was 51 years old when she started writing science fiction under the pen name of James Tiptree, Jr. Her male pseudonym was whimsically chosen in a supermarket, where a jar of Tiptree jam caught her eye. She tackled issues of sex, gender identity, male/female relations, and death. She went on to win numerous awards for her work, and the Tiptree Jr. Award for science fiction or fantasy, was created in her honor. FYI: Her pseudonym James Tiptree made the SF&F list in 2012.
A high school drop-out, Terry Pratchett authored the best-selling, long-running “Discworld” comedic fantasy series—41 novels in all. His works have been adapted into film, games, comics, radio, and theater.
Created by Gene Roddenberry 1966, “Star Trek” follows the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise as they explore new worlds and “boldly go where no man has gone before.” So it’s no surprise that the series is among the new Hall of Fame inductees, as is Leonard Nimoy, best known for portraying Mr. Spock, our favorite half-human/half-alien. Scientists, astronauts, engineers, and technologists have admitted to being inspired by the series. Little known fact: “Star Trek” was originally introduced to the world by Desilu, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez’s production company.
George Orwell’s tome, “1984,” a fictional dystopian tale of the future, still resonates, given the current political climate. Written in 1949, the novel is considered one of the best English language dystopian novels of the 20th century, along with Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World.”
Although Margaret Atwood doesn’t consider herself a science fiction genre writer, her novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is a dystopian tale, set in a world where declining birth rates have condemned fertile women to slavery. It’s considered to be one of the best feminist science fiction works. In fact, Hulu is creating a series based on her book. It will begin streaming on Hulu, starting April 26, 2017.
Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” ranks as one of the most ambitious science fiction films ever created, unlike any sci-fi films created before or since. It follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith. It deals with themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. Noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery, the film uses sound and minimal dialogue instead of a traditional narrative, ending with a psychedelic panorama.
Jack Kirby was one of comic book’s greatest artists, writers, and innovators, co-creating Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Black Panther, the Avengers, and the X-Men, among many others. His prolific output and explosive, mind-bending visual style earned him the title “King of Comics.”
The movie version of “The Princess Bride” charmed audiences with its witty banter, fairy tale romance, and imaginative setting. Based on William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name and directed by Rob Reiner, the 1987 film is one of the most popular comedic fantasy films of all time. And who can forget Mandy Patinkin’s line? “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Inducting Academy Award winning composer/conductor John Williams makes perfect sense. He has composed scores for many of Spielberg’s science fiction and fantasy films including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” the “Indiana Jones” series, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” the “Jurassic Park” trilogy, and “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.” Williams also created scores for other sci-fi and fantasy movies, including the “Star Wars” trilogy for director George Lucas, as well as the first three films of the “Harry Potter” series
Known for his lush, vivid, and macabre directorial vision, Guillermo del Toro’s films include “Blade II,” the “Hellboy” series, “Pacific Rim,” and “Crimson Peak.” And Howard Phillips Lovecraft is known for inspiring a hybrid of science fiction and horror that he called “cosmic horror.”
One of the original members of the Monty Python gang, filmmaker Terry Gilliam went on to create a string of science fiction and fantasy classics-to-be, including “Time Bandits,” “Brazil,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” The Fisher King,” and “12 Monkeys.” Gilliam ingeniously combined surrealism, absurdity. and grotesque images with a warm insight into the human condition.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the classic cult film “Blade Runner” follows Detective Rick Deckard, who is hired to destroy a group of renegade androids, in futuristic Los Angeles. The film was an immediate hit.
Actor Keith David, who has a bigger-than-life persona, landed his first motion picture role as Childs in John Carpenter’s classic film, “The Thing,” He worked with Carpenter again on “They Live.” David starred as Imam in the movie “Pitch Black” and its sequel, “The Chronicles of Riddick” He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his voice-over performance as Goliath in the animated Disney series “Gargoyles.” More recently, he voiced Dr. Facilier for Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog,” David also co-starred in the science fiction epic “Cloud Atlas,” based on the novel by David Mitchell.
Having sold well over 100 million copies of her works, Rumiko Takahashi is one of the most widely known and successful creators of manga–her work helped bring Japanese comics to the attention of the West. In Japan, “manga” refers to both comics and cartoons. Many of Takashi’s manga have been adapted for television and film and released worldwide. She won the Shogakukan Manga Award for both “Urusei Yatsura” and “InuYasha.”
Jim Henson is best known for his television series “The Muppet Show,” which aired from 1976 to 1981. Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the whole crew were adored. But in 1982, he created and directed the film “The Dark Crystal,” followed by the 1986 film, “Labyrinth,” starring David Bowie as the Goblin King.
Combining sophisticated science fiction, horror, mystery, and UFO folklore, “The X-Files” depicted a world where the fantastic and bizarre lurk just out of sight. The series follows two FBI agents, Fox Mulder, a believer, and Dana Scully, a skeptic. Together, they investigate cases involving unusual, otherworldly, and paranormal phenomena.
Dungeons & Dragons was the first true role-playing game. Since its creation in 1974, D&D has entranced millions of players; spawned a vast, modern role-playing game industry; and left its mark on contemporary geek culture.
The surreal adventure puzzle game “Myst” became the top-selling computer game from 1993 to 2002. Players enter the mythical world of “Myst,” where they explore and solve puzzles to unlock the storyline. There are several possible endings based on the player’s ethical decisions.
NASA’s recent discovery of a new star system Trappist-1 will surely inspire a new generation of science fiction creators and works. Not only are its seven planets in tight orbits, they are unusually close to one another, and to quote NASA, “conjuring an image straight out of science fiction.”
And finally, here’s a sample of Sci-fi/fantasy jargon: Grok (v. understand), Muggle (n, non-magic civilian). Turncloak (n, betrayer). Replicant (n, android), Droog (n, friend). Precog (n, psychic mutant), Gorram (n, goddamn). Grassed (n, drunk). Confusticate (v, bewilder). Apparate (v, transporting spell used by witches and wizards). Frood (n, amazingly together guy). Qapla’ (n, success).
Now, to use them in a sentence. I always grok; I’m a precog. You’re nothing but a Muggle. I suspect he’s a turncloak, while you are a droog. I envy his qapla. Shall we apparate? He’s just a frood. Keep that replicant away from me. Don’t you dare confusticate me. I couldn’t decide if he were a Gorram or a Grassed—or both.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame 20th Anniversary Inductees
Guillermo del Toro
2001: A Space Odyssey
Dungeons & Dragons
The Princess Bride
CURRENT EXHIBITIONS AT MoPOP
Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds
Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction
Indie Game Revolution sponsored by Nintendo
We Are 12: The Seattle Seahawks and the Road to Victory
Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film
Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic
Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses (closing and touring starting March 19, 2017)