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My Top 7 Science Fiction Influencers from Back in the Day

Updated: Jan 3

Everyone has influences.

Ask ANY rock band. One of my favourite bands (The Pixies) are said to have influenced Nirvana and Radiohead. Another of my favourites is Morrissey, and his solo work and his 1980's band "The Smiths" have influenced just about anyone who is anyone in the world of music.

So it comes to be with writers and creators.

Take Steven King. He has influenced so many writers that it is easy to lose count.

Victor LaValle.

Lauren Groff.

Sherman Alexie.

Bret Easton Ellis.

I'll stop there. He really has influenced just about everyone. Including me haha.

Here are a list of my top influencers on me from "back in the day" that have shaped what I enjoy, what I write about, what I talk about, and how I think about the world. That's not to say that your influencers are there to be "copied". No. Nor do you have to identify with ALL that they stand for (for example, my political beliefs are an almost polar opposite of the said Mr King!) Nor are they all writers, as you will see, a lot of my influences have been found on the big or the small screen first - that's not to say they are any LESS of an influence just as they are a different media form. Here we go...

Arthur C Clarke

2001 was a book that I read after seeing the movie of the same name. It introduced me to space, to automated assistants (HAL anyone?) and the belief that higher realms can exist and influence the present and the past.

A picture of 2001: A Space Odyssey
The first automated assistant - HAL9000.

John Wyndham

Another writer who I found after seeing a TV adaptation, The Day of the Triffids is indelibly printed on my mind. It highlights the possible future perils of a world inhabited by alien creatures. It wasn't the slow moving killer plants that did it in this story for me - it was the isolation, the feelings of abandonment and of hopelessness. Perhaps explains why I listen to Morrisey so much!

A picture of Bill Mason facing off with a Triffid in the BBC's adaptation of "The Day of the Triffids"
The Day of the Triffids - BBC

Steven King

I've read lots of his stuff. Yet again, one of my influences here was a movie before I read the book - of course "The Running Man". The movie of the Arnie fame was a precursor that I'm sure inspired "The Hunger Games" later on. Written under King's pen name of Richard Bachman, the book is actually much better than the movie, which I enjoyed very much. A very different feel, the story is much cleverer than the Hollywood adaptation, with an excellent ending.

A picture of the first edition "The Running Man" novel penned by Richard Bachman aka Steven King
"The Running Man" released under the pen name Richard Bachman

John Carpenter

Wasn't he a director? Yes. He also wrote an amazing movie called "Escape from New York". This was a mind blowing slice of dystopia that has themes that certainly make their way into "The Unravelling" - police states, leaving criminals to fend for themselves, and the social and economic fall outs from those decisions. I still watch this movie every few years.

An iconic scene of the Statue of Liberty's head fallen on the streets of New York in the movie "Escape from New York"
A scene from the movie "Escape from New York"

Alex Garland

Another screenplay that has heavily influenced me is "28 Days Later". Zombie movies have come and gone in my consciousness over the years, and I do enjoy the genre, but the isolation themes early in the movie that see Cillian Murphy travailing deserted streets of London were just so jaw dropping that this movie is never far from me. I must watch it around once a year at least. Alex has also written some great books and more amazing screenplays so if you haven't checked him out yet then you should do.

A split screen picture showing two scenes from "28 Days Later".
"28 Days Later" one of the very best zombie movies.

William Gibson

Ah, my namesake. This is one that I got into in a literary way well before I saw any of his efforts brought to life on a screen. I mean, Johnny Mnemonic was distinctly underwhelming, but the recent TV series "The Peripheral" on Amazon Prime was just jaw droppingly brilliant, even if the novel received a significant re-write in order to make it on screen.

I love ALL of Gibson's work, Neuromancer being the stand out, and, as a marketer in the corporate world, Pattern Recognition is another that really speaks to me due to it's subject matter. One of the all time GOATs in my humble opinion.

A promo picture for the TV series "The Peripheral"
"The Peripheral" is an Amazon Prime adaptation of the novel by William Gibson.

Margaret Atwood

Another Canadian author, and another influence that I discovered on the screen first, before reading her novels. "The Handmaid's Tale" is just a stunning cautionary tale of how feminism and dystopian politics could combine with horrific consequences, and the semi-religious tones of the politics portrayed in Gilead are certainly thought provoking.

I cannot put any of these into any particular order. However, they are my influences alright, and if you like any of these seven then do please check out "The Unravelling" as you may find some of that influence at work for sure.

If you haven't heard of any of these 7 GOATs (IMO of course!) then please do check them out and if I inspire one single person to seek out their genius even in a small way it will be a good day.

A scene from the TV adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale"
"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood was made into a very successful TV franchise.

What are your influences? I'd love to know. Comment or hit me on social and let's discuss!

Speak soon!


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