Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Before Plan 9

Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space
© 2012 various authors
354 pages


TV Producer:"About the title...it's highly inflammatory. What if we changed it to 'Plan 9 from Outer Space'?"
Ed Wood: ...that's ridiculous. 
(From Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp)



Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I shall spend the rest! of our lives. But this is not a book about the future, it is one about the past. Specifically, it's a prequel to the 1950s cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space.  For those who have never experience the particular pleasure of it,  the film features aliens making contact with Earth,  who have hopes of convincing us not to blow up the universe by creating three "zombies", two of whom are actually vampires.   I watched it a few weeks ago as part of a series of 1950s SF (along with Them! The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms, Satellite in the Sky, and World Without End) and have since become morbidly fascinated with the work of Ed Wood. How could I resist this little volume, each story-chapter documenting the nine previous plans that the mysterious aliens visited upon the Earth?    Like the movie, this book of tales is more comedic than thrilling, and by plan 8 the novelty had worn off on me entirely.  The premise is that roughly since the Age of the Dinosaurs, the same group of aliens has been cloning itself and maintaining a watch over Earth, attempting to persuade Earthings (first intelligent dinosaurs, then humans) not to blow up the galaxy.  The stories are most clever early on, as the authors insert the aliens into the tale of Odysessus (turns out all those gods and monsters were alien creatures, who knew?), ancient Egypt (aliens did build the pyramids!), and the story of the Pied Piper.    There are numerous references to other SF stories and legends -- Roswell, obviously --  and even one particularly funny hat-tip to Ed Wood himself. In a chapter set in Victorian America, a scientist named Glen must pretend to be a woman to find out where mind-control corsets are taking all the wives of his village; naturally, he asks people to call him Glenda.  The Nazi antics seem like something out of an old Captain America plot (Heil Hydra!), and then we get a bunch of monster movies towards the end.   Some references attempt to explain the silliness of the film, like the alien saucers being suspended by wires:  an alien complains that Earth's atmosphere is so turbulent that their ships are damaged and having to be towed by other ships in higher orbits.

If you find Plan 9 from Outer Space to be in the "so bad it's good" kind of movie,  you may enjoy these little stories to a degree.  My enthusiasm waned after the Victorian story, which I think is my favorite.

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