Why is it SF films are so unimaginative? Starwars has Hans Solo with a C96 Broomhandle Mauser with stick-on bits as a blaster pistol. Storm troopers used Sterling sub-machineguns, also with bits stuck on. Even in Aliens the Marines wear Vietnam War body armour with extra bits stuck on.
I hate to remind these people that fashions change and military dress is normally just a version of civilian dress. Just because we are wearing a certain style now doesn’t mean that it’s the pinnacle of fashion and isn’t going to change. Good grief, even during the dark ages we can see fashions in brooches change amongst the Germanic tribesmen who settled in Britain during the fourth and subsequent centuries!
One thing people sometimes ask is how did you get into this whole SF/Fantasy thing? Well I suppose it’s my mother’s fault. She was a teacher and wasn’t impressed by comics, but she decided that ‘Look and Learn’ was educational and so she bought me that. But then ‘Look and Learn’ incorporated ‘Ranger’ and suddenly things started looking up. Ranger brought the story of the Trigan Empire. What’s not to like, space ships, atmosphere craft, laser cannon, charging horsemen and flashing sword play? OK the stories were probably a bit stereotyped, but looking back they managed to avoid the semi-naked slave girl look, indeed their women wore more than in Star Trek. They also managed to break down the SF stereotype of the future dressing virtually like we do but with more electronics and different fabrics.
Then, in about 1972, I bought Jack Vance’s book. ‘Dragon Masters.’ Set in the far distant future you have a pre-industrial society that has bred lizard-like intelligent aliens to function as mounts for riding and warriors for fighting. Their insular little world is invaded by an alien ship which is crewed by the same aliens, who fight using humans that they’ve bred for much the same purposes.
This story totally blew me away. The world and the society it described was so utterly different from our own that I realised at once I had to read more by this writer.
To that day, whenever I’ve seen a book by Jack Vance that I didn’t own, I’ve bought it, no matter whether I had to walk home because I’d spent the bus fare or not.
But this is back in 1972. Jack Vance finally passed away this year, at the grand old age of 96. I’m waiting for a modern writer to set his SF story in a distant future where, once more, real men wear doublet and hose.