Call for Chapters: The Influence of 1950s Science Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Dennis Cutchins / Brigham Young University
contact email: 



Revenge of the Remakes: Adaptations and the Influence of 1950s Sci-Fi Films is a proposed edited collection that will focus on the influence of 1950s science fiction films in later decades through direct and indirect adaptations. A great deal has been written about the sci-fi films of the 1950s, but much less has been written about how these films have been recycled, repurposed, and reused over the years. Science fiction has thoroughly saturated our own era. Hollywood, alone, produces over four hundred science fiction films annually, and many of these owe a great deal to films from the 50s. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between 50s sci-fi films and the explosion of sci-fi texts that have been made since, with the intent of unveiling their continued influence on the various themes and concerns of subsequent science fiction.

Certainly SF films were created earlier, but the decade of the 1950s is the first heyday of science fiction film. Many of these films, like Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), strongly reflect concerns of the moment, but tropes from Siegel’s film have found surprising new life in shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things. One of the most revered sci fi films of the 1950s, MGM’s Forbidden Planet (1956), became the blueprint for Star Trek, its movie franchise, and its growing list of television spinoffs. As these films have been adapted, recycled, and remade many, like 2009’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, re-focus central themes. In this case from 1950s fears of nuclear proliferation, to millennial fears of environmental collapse. Other remakes, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), preserve similar themes, but take advantage of improved special effects technology to more accurately adapt the original ideas. In John Campbell’s novella, Who Goes There?, the alien creature has the ability to change shapes to mimic any living creature, including the scientists at the isolated Antarctic research station. Howard Hawks may have been drawn to that central conceit when he made The Thing from Another World in 1951, but the technology to convincingly put that shape-changing ability on the big screen would have to wait 30 years for Carpenter and his team. 1979’s Alien, arguably another adaptation of The Thing, introduced an interesting variation on the themes of Hawk’s film. In the 1979 film, and its sequel, Aliens (1986),feminist elements are added as Ellen Ripley, a strong and very capable woman, is the sole survivor of the first film. In the second film Ripley faces off against a female alien intent on protecting her offspring.

As we envision it, the book will consist of the tentative general headings below, though we hope that potential contributors will recommend other (and better) topics:

Human and Alien Interaction 

Body Snatching Then and Now

War (and Peace) Between Worlds

Its, Things, and Blobs—the Monstrous and Not So Monstrous Other


The Space Race

     Recasting Race in Sci-Fi Remakes

     The Roles of 1950s Sci-Fi in Racial Relations

 It’s a Small World After All: Cultural Reappropriations of Science Fiction

      The Influence of Hollywood’s 1950s Sci-Fi on World Cinema

      Hollywood Remakes of Foreign Sci-Fi

Gendered Perspectives

     Changing Gender Roles in Sci-Fi

     Gender as Other: She Demons, Planetary Gender, and Gender Transgression

Lost Worlds and Giant Monsters

     Lost Continents

     Mysterious Islands

     The Center of the Planet

     Undersea Kingdoms

     Forbidden Planets

Ends of the World      

     Holocausts, Nuclear and Otherwise

     Human Influence on a Planetary Scale

     Deserted Cities

     Last People on Earth


Here’s the timeline for the project:

•           Sep 30                  Formal proposals due

•           Feb 17, 2020        Drafts of completed chapters due

•           May 11, 2020      Final drafts of chapters due

 The formal proposals should be about 300 words and should include the 1950s film text or texts with which you plan to work, the later or “influenced” text(s) you hope to include, and a brief description of your approach. They should be submitted by September 30, 2019 to one of the email addresses listed below.

 The complete chapters should be a concise 5200-6500 words, or about 17-20 double-spaced pages. We hope this will be a richly illustrated volume with at least an image or two for each chapter. This will, however, depend somewhat on the publisher.

 If you have questions let us know, otherwise we hope to hear from prospective contributors by the end of September.

 If you are interested in contributing to this collection please address inquiries and chapter proposals to:


            Dennis R. Perry                       or                     Dennis R. Cutchins

            4171 JFSB                                                      4167 JFSB

            Brigham Young University                            Brigham Young University

            Provo, UT 84602                                            Provo, UT 84604

            801-422-1717                                                  801-422-9042


Dennis Perry and Dennis Cutchins are the authors and/or editors of multiple books on the film adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, adaptations of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and multiple volumes focused on adaptation studies.