science fiction digest

2

“Like visions of Heaven and Hell on a medieval triptych, the postatomic wastelands of my dad’s mags sat side by side with the exotic, triple-sunned vistas that graced the covers of my mum’s beloved science fiction paperbacks. Digest-sized windows into shiny futurity, they offered android amazons in chrome monokinis chasing marooned spacemen beneath the pearlescent skies of impossible alien worlds. …

On television, images of pioneering astronauts vied with bleak scenes from Hiroshima to Vietnam: It was an all-or-nothing choice between the A-Bomb and the Spaceship. I had already picked sides, but the Cold War tension between Apocalypse and Utopia was becoming almost unbearable. And then superheroes rained down across the Atlantic, in a dazzling prism-light of heraldic jumpsuits, bringing new ways to see and hear and think about everything. …

But there’s even more going on beneath the surface of our appetite for the antics of outlandishly dressed characters who wil never let us down. Look away from the page or the screen and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve arrived into mass consciousness, as they tend to arrive everywhere else, in response to a desperate SOS from a world in crisis. …

With a stroke of lightning, the spark of divine inspiration ignited cheap newsprint and the superhero was born in an explosion of color and action. From the beginning, the ur-god and his dark twin presented the world with a frame through which our own best and worst impulses could be personified in an epic struggle across a larger-than-life, two-dimensional canvas upon which our outer and inner worlds, our present and future, could be laid out and explored. They came to save us from the existential abyss, yet first they had to find a way into our collective imagination.”

Grant Morrison - Supergods, 2011