Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Return of the "Dinosaur"

Ten years ago, before I had any inkling I would be interested in writing s-f, I caught an episode of the latest version of "The Outer Limits" on satellite TV. I had been flipping around channels when I saw this particular story was set on a moon base and had a teleporter and aliens and all that stuff, so I stopped and watched it.

The title, "Think Like a Dinosaur", meant nothing to me. The credits said it was based on a short story by someone named James Patrick Kelly, who for all I knew was a Boston City Council member.

I was fascinated, though. I had stopped paying attention to s-f years earlier, but this episode had stuff in it that reminded me what I liked - and disliked - about s-f. A little while later, I took out a collection of short stories by the same title by the same Kelly from the local library.

I quickly realized Kelly's story had been - ahem - rather altered in the adaptation, and in fact the Outer Limits version had pretty much rammed "Dinosaur" and "The Cold Equations" and a few other stories together all together.

These kind of crappy adaptations sometimes serve as "gateways" to real s-f. This episode, along with the movie adaptation of "Minority Report" a while later (which I had to watch because my wife likes Tom Cruise) helped pique my interest in the genre at the time, so that by Labor Day in 2002 I took a few hours and wrote my first story.

I lurched home from work this evening - feeling all of the 103 degrees, which is still six degrees less than it was a week ago - and realizing I had missed the national newscast, spun the dial on DirecTV. I saw that on the Chiller channel they were showing that episode of "Think Like a Dinosaur".

I watched it again.

Wow. Despite being a rank amateur, I've spent a a lot of time during the past decade catching up on the genre, and it was certainly an experience seeing it again. A very different experience.

I was a bit surprised to see that Enrico Colantoni - the guy who stars in "Flashpoint - played Michael Burr. I didn't remember that.

I DO know who James Patrick Kelly is, now, though.

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