Aliens in Popular Culture

Greenwood. Mar. 2019. 335p. ed. by ed. by Michael M. Levy & Farah Mendlesohn. photos. index. ISBN 9781440838323. $94; ebk. ISBN 9781440838330. REF
H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1897), with its sentient Martians, is considered the first introduction to nonhuman aliens in popular culture. Since then, these beings have had a huge impact on the imagination. Editors Levy (formerly, English, Univ. of Wisconsin, Stout, now deceased) and Mendlesohn (Rhetorics of Fantasy), along with 90 contributors who study sf, literature, and other fields, examine the portrayal of aliens in a variety of media, from the late 19th into the 21st century. The volume begins with a sampling of essays that provide historical context and raise questions about the symbolism of aliens. The bulk of the material consists of short entries on familiar and more obscure topics: films Contact and Men in Black, TV series Futurama and Third Rock from the Sun, authors Octavia Butler and Robert Heinlein, and much more. Each entry includes a short list of further reading suggestions. Readers will come away with a strong understanding of the various ways in which aliens have been perceived.
VERDICT Sf enthusiasts will appreciate this comprehensive reference about extraterrestrials in popular culture.

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