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Paul Di Filippo reviews Gary Westfahl
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Preview this item Preview this item. It discusses classics; innumerable films which gesture toward realism but betray that goal with melodramatic villains, low comedy, or improbably monsters; the distinctive spacesuit films of Western Europe, Russia and Japan; and America's televised Apollo 11 moon landing "--Provided by publisher. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private.
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Functioning as both a summary and a continuation of this tradition was the television series Men into Space , which introduced the topic of how pioneering astronauts might uncover evidence of extraterrestrial life see Aliens. But such films were swimming against the tide, as the drive to attract audiences with more conventional entertainment drove producers away from authenticity and toward what Westfahl termed pseudo-spacesuit films, which might gesture toward realism with perfunctorily introduced spacesuits but otherwise merely transplanted familiar generic patterns — from melodramatic serials, slapstick comedies, and horror films — into the novel setting of space.
In the late s, though, the impending Apollo Moon landing brought a new burst of genuine spacesuit films: Countdown , Marooned , and most memorably A Space Odyssey , which paid homage to many predecessors while extending the argument of the spacesuit film by positing that ultimately, humanity would have to undergo Evolution in order to truly conquer space. Spacesuit films have continued to appear since , though most are either nonfictional accounts of actual space triumphs, like Apollo 13 or the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon , or involve events that while implausible might have really occurred, like the unplanned launching of children into space in the films Stowaway to the Moon and SpaceCamp or the recruitment of elderly ex-astronauts to perform a unique mission in Space Cowboys There have also been a film about astronauts pretending to land on Mars Capricorn One [ ] , films in which heroic astronauts attempt to prevent Asteroids from striking Earth Armageddon [ ], Deep Impact [ ] , and films about first landings on Mars The Angry Red Planet [ ; vt Invasion of Mars ], Mission to Mars [ ], Red Planet [ ]; see also Mars.