Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Nigel Kneale leaves us

by Rob - November 2nd, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Just this past Sunday, during “An Hour with Robert J. Sawyer” at MileHiCon in Denver, I told the audience that half my career has been writing riffs on one of my all-time favourite SF films: Quatermass and the Pit (also known as Five Million Years to Earth).

The author of the screenplay for the movie, and the earlier BBC television serial, was Nigel Kneale. The story featured a paleontologist as a main character (and, in the longer serial version, it was made clear that he was a Canadian paleontologist), dealt with early hominid forms, had some great philosophical underpinnings, unearthed a long buried alien spaceship, presented a pacifist hero, and made a reference to a real-world scientist being known to one of the fictional characters — all things I myself have since included in my own fiction.

As it happened, on the day I uttered those words, Nigel Kneale died, at age 84. I never had the honour of meeting him, but he influenced me greatly.

(For the Doctor Who fans out there, much of the feeling of the Jon Pertwee years was lifted directly from Quatermass and the Pit, with The Doctor in the role of Quatermass, the Brigadier standing in for Colonel Breen.)

Rest in peace, Nigel Kneale.

Tributes are here and here.


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