A cutting-edge film maker who stunned audiences with A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey. A comic book artist who created covers for Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. And a Japanese animator whose Princess Mononoke fantasy adventure film is one of the most celebrated of all time.
Those are among some of the 2014 inductees into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, which is housed in Seattle at the EMP Museum. Inductees include author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett, artist Frank Frazetta, film director Stanley Kubrick, writer and animator Hayao Miyazaki, and author Olaf Stapledon.
They were nominated by EMP members, with final inductees chosen by a panel of award-winning authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. Other Hall of Fame members include musician David Bowie, author J.R.R. Tolkien and filmmaker George Lucas. The Hall of Fame was established in 1994, and moved to Seattle in 2004 from the University of Kansas.
Here’s more on each of the inductees, courtesy of EMP.
Leigh Brackett, December 7, 1915 – March 17, 1978
Leigh Brackett has been hailed as the “Queen of the Space Opera”—a master of richly detailed stories of planetary romance. She began writing during the early years of the Golden Age of science fiction, quickly gaining prominence as a novelist and screenwriter.
A native of Los Angeles, Brackett joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society in 1939 where she met other emerging science fiction authors including Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein. They would remain close personal friends for years to come. In 1940, her first published science fiction story, “Martian Quest” appeared in Astounding Science Fiction. She worked in many genres—not only science fiction, but also crime, mystery, and westerns. Most of her science fiction falls into the planetary romance style (also called science fantasy)—sagas of adventure and struggle across a fantastical solar system that included desert barbarians on Mars, jungles on Venus, and deadly storms on Mercury.
Even at the time these stories were written it was known that these planets couldn’t harbor such wonders, hence the term science fantasy. She embraced the escapist nature of the genre, saying, “These stories served to stretch our little minds, to draw us out beyond our narrow skies into the vast glooms of interstellar space, where the great suns ride in splendor and the bright nebulae fling their veils of fire parsecs-long across the universe…. Escape fiction? Yes, indeed!” Notable works include Shadow Over Mars (1951), The Long Tomorrow (1955), and Alpha Centauri or Die! (1963).
Simultaneously, Brackett built a career as a screenwriter, notably with The Big Sleep (1946), Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966), and The Long Goodbye (1973). She contributed episodes to various TV series including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Rockford Files. In 1977, director George Lucas hired Brackett to write the screenplay for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, bridging her space opera and screenwriting talents. She completed the first draft in 1978, just a few weeks before her death.
Frank Frazetta, February 9, 1928 – May 20, 2010
Frank Frazetta’s prolific art graced the pages of comic books, the covers of paperback adventure novels, and the sleeves of record albums with a distinctively rugged style that strongly influenced future generations of illustrators.
His work is immediately recognizable and larger than life. The men in his illustrations flex their rippling musculature as scantily clad Amazon women flaunt improbable proportions—both fighting off grotesque monsters conjured from Frazetta’s imagination.
A precocious child with preternatural artistic abilities, Frazetta enrolled at the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts at age 8 and by age 16 was working in Bernard Baily’s studio as an assistant. In 1947, Graham Ingels gave Frazetta his big break with a job at Standard Comics. Frazetta drew comics across many genres: fantasy, westerns, and mysteries among them. Throughout the 1950s he worked at EC Comics and National Comics, as well as created covers for Buck Rogers and daily Flash Gordon strips. While his experiences in the comic book industry helped Frazetta hone his craft, he found the work to be stifling to his emerging personal style and vision.
Frazetta hit his stride with painted covers for paperback adventure books. His covers for the Conan the Adventurer collection by Robert E. Howard redefined the sword and sorcery illustration completely—many new readers bought the book based on the cover alone.
Throughout his career, Frazetta accumulated many accolades, including a 1966 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist and a Life Achievement Award in 2001 from the World Fantasy Convention. Frazetta was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999.
Frazetta is cited as an influence by a diverse group of artists including Yusuke Nakano (Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda), Roger Sweet (He-Man creator), and fantasy artist Joseph Vargo.
Stanley Kubrick, July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999
Stanley Kubrick’s impact on science fiction filmmaking cannot be underestimated. He brought otherworldly concepts to wide audiences and mainstream acceptance, and his film 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to influence the genre to this day.
Starting in high school, Kubrick worked as a freelance photographer for Look magazine, and later became an employee. He began to hone his visual storytelling skills by creating stories told in series of still images. Soon he moved into documentary filmmaking, tackling diverse subjects such as boxers, sailors, and priests. His first feature film, a war story titled Fear and Desire (1953), had only two crew—Kubrick and his wife Toba Metz. Seven years later he directed Spartacus (1960), the highest budget American film to date. With the apocalyptic satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Kubrick adapted a serious novel about nuclear destruction into a comedy—to controversial effect.
His next project, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), changed science fiction film forever. Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and written in collaboration with him, the film is an ambitious portrayal of the evolution of humanity as assisted by extraterrestrials. It features bold special effects and a highly realistic portrayal of spaceflight. Many directors cite 2001 as a key influence, and the film set the stage for the coming era of the science fiction blockbuster.
Kubrick went on to write and direct A Clockwork Orange (1971), based on Anthony Burgess’ novel about a sociopathic teen who is brainwashed into docility. He also worked for many years on an adaptation of Brian Aldiss’ short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long,” but died before he could realize the film. Steven Spielberg took over the project, which became A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
Hayao Miyazaki, January 5, 1941 -
Writer, animator, and film director Hayao Miyazaki has spent his career creating fantastic and wondrous worlds for a global audience. His films depict pastoral, sometimes utopian landscapes and celebrate nature, flight, imagination, and the simple joys of childhood.
He began his animation career in 1963 working as a concept artist, in-between artist, and storyboard artist, working his way up to directing for television. He directed his first feature film Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, in 1979. In 1984 he founded Studio Ghibli, proceeding to produce a string of successful films such as Castle in the Sky (1986), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001).
Between 1982 and 1994, Miyazaki wrote and drew the manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, an epic story set approximately one thousand years in the future, in a time when the Earth is recovering from a war that left the landscape ravaged and strangely altered. The heroine, Princess Nausicaä, is a brave young woman called upon to lead her small nation. She is the first of a series of strong heroines created by Miyazaki such as Satsuki in My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki in Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and others.
Miyazaki garnered international acclaim with Princess Mononoke, which won the Picture of the Year Japanese Academy Award, a Nebula Award for Best Script, and numerous others. Spirited Away claimed the Best Animated Film Academy Award in the United States. In 2005 the Venice Film Festival awarded him a lifetime achievement award.
Olaf Stapledon, May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950
Olaf Stapledon was many things: philosopher, educator, veteran of WWI, and pacifist activist—but he is remembered most fondly as the author of ambitious, prescient, and seminal works of science fiction.
A graduate of Oxford, Stapledon worked in a variety of jobs before taking up social work and tutoring for the Workers’ Educational Association teaching philosophy, history, and poetry. During World War I he served as a conscientious objector with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in France and Belgium. He later attended the University of Liverpool and was awarded a PhD in Philosophy in 1925. His first novel, Last and First Men, was published in 1930 and with its success, Stapledon devoted himself to writing full time.
Set two billion years in the future, Last and First Men describes an epic journey of human evolution through the rise and fall of 18 human races. In 1937, Stapledon published Star Maker—a story spanning 100 billion years of human and alien evolution. Odd John (1935) concerns a precocious young boy who discovers that he is one of a number of mutant geniuses. The mutants create an isolated colony and ask only to be left alone, but find that simple request too great for their fellow humans to respect.
Stapledon’s works collectively explore the capacity of human intelligence, compassion, and the ability to comprehend our place in the universe. He is credited with first describing phenomena that have moved from fiction to science including genetic engineering and terraforming. He frequently lectured throughout Europe, was an outspoken agnostic and advocate for peace, and was involved in the anti-apartheid movement. Stapledon Wood, near his home in Caldy, is named after him. In 2001, he was awarded the first annual Cordwainer Smith “Rediscovery” Award.