Saturday, 25 September 2010
One of my favourite science fiction films is 'Forbidden Planet' made in 1956 starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and a young Leslie Nielsen. Of course the special effects were naff and the acting a little cheesy but I remember seeing it as a child and being both thrilled and terrified by the inspired 'Monster from the Id'
Imagine my excitement when I discovered there was a book written in 1956 to be released in conjunction with the film and that there are still copies around today!
Forbidden Planet is set in the future on the distant planet of Altair IV; a desert world many light years from Earth. 20 Years previously an expedition was sent to Altair IV from Earth but was never heard from again. At the beginning of the film the space cruiser C57D arrives on Altair IV where the crew find Dr. Morbius, the sole survivor of the original expedition, who has discovered the technological remains of an ancient alien race which lived on Altair IV thousands of years earlier. All is not well on Altair IV as Morbius warns the crew to leave the planet at once before a deadly planetary force, which was responsible for killing the members of the previous expedition, returns to kill them.
To begin with the book is very dated however, unlike the film, it hasn't aged well. The book is poorly written and disjointed, a different character from the story narrates each chapter which means the book doesn't read smoothly and the reader has to re-adjust to the different character's individual style and viewpoints which can be confusing.
The content of the book is inherently sexist; when the sex starved crew of C57D discover Morbius has a young daughter the highly trained and disciplined spacemen, who are supposed to be the best of the best, turn into dribbling lecherous perverts attempting to seduce the hapless girl at every turn (which even borders on creepy since she is described as 'like a child' due to her naivety)
Sadly the wonderful spirit of science fiction adventure captured in the original film is not present in this book at all which was a terrible disappointment to me, especially as copies are rare and I had to go through some expense to get my hands on a copy.
One reason this book will stick in my mind is that it is the only book I have ever read where swear words are stared out! It happens more than once! Bizarre
Final verdict 2/5