I enjoy Eric Frank Russell’s stories as a whole, but Sentinels from Space is far from my favorite. It has very little of the classic Russell humor and a moderately interesting plot.
Humanity has developed several different kinds of mutants, mostly due to space travel. Most of the known ones live on Mars and Venus since everyone there has ancestors who traveled through space, whether or not they themselves have done so.
Mars and Venus are looking to establish their independence from Earth. Certainly, any American citizen can sympathize with the desire to not be ruled by a distant power, at least if he or she has an understanding of history. But in this case, a war between the three worlds is inadvisable, even though no human knows it.
Yes, Earth, Mars, and Venus are watched over by alien sentinels, who know that such a war is not a good idea, as an alien invasion is a very real future problem. They would prefer to keep the planets united, and not allow Earth to be ruined, as it easily could be in such a war.
I found the range of mutants quite interesting and creative. Beyond the usual telepaths and teleports, there are “insectivocals” who can speak to insects and other such mutations. I’ll give some points for creativity, but still, this isn’t one of Russell’s stories that I will reread often.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the great classic science fiction movies. Dated in many ways, it still has a captivating storyline.
The silver flying saucer is such a cliche now, and the effects are quite simple, but you do have to consider when this movie was made when considering them. The movie isn’t about the effects anyhow.
The storyline relates quite strongly to the fears of the Cold War. Klaatu comes with a warning that if the people of Earth try to spread their warlike ways to other parts of the galaxy, we will be destroyed. Naturally, our response is, umm… less than friendly, and Klaatu is shot.
This film is not filled with action. The intrigue is more political, as Klaatu learns about human society and the government tried to recapture him. There is one very tame chase scene, and when tanks are destroyed, it is in a flash of lights, scarcely dramatic.
The story is extremely well told. You’ll understand its portrayal of international politics, people, bigotry and the media. You do need to recognize that this film was made in the 50s, which means there are many dated characteristics. It’s a little preachy as well.
The biggest problem with this one is the low quality of the DVD. I had to turn the volume up very high to hear some of the dialogue, but many of the background sounds came in more clearly.
And, of course, this movie gave us the classic line, “Klaatu Barada Nikto”