Dave's Corner of the Universe

Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide

The Science Fiction of David Bowie

 

 

 

David_Bowie_holywood

 

Anyone who has a Facebook account knows that David Bowie died last week. In fact I’d never seen such huge outpouring on Facebook for the death of a celebrity. Although Alan Rickman who passed away a few days later came a close second. It is fitting in this world where celebrity demises anouncments are often premature (I can’t tell how many times I have erroneously read of Jackie Chan or Morgan Freeman’s death on Facebook.) that many people thought it wasn’t true at first. We live in a world that it is harder and harder to tell fact from fiction apart. I think that is the type of world that brought a smile to Bowie’s lips.

 

I have met very few people who didn’t like David Bowie. Sure a lot of people were not jazzed about some parts of his long career. That is because he changed so many times over forty plus years of preforming. From his commercial success like Lets Dance, his Berlin years, or his Ziggy Star Dust persona, he was a  true chameleon. He showed the path to people like Madonna who would reinvent themselves on stage. But I am going to focus on the science fiction aspects of his career.

 

One of the best DB roles was someone else being David Bowie, as the Sovereign of the League of Calamitous Intent. Voiced by James Urbaniak, in the TV show The Venture Bros. Basically he is a cool shape changing Lex Luthor. Now it turns out that the Sovereign isn’t really David Bowie, but just uses his form as a cover. I think that this is an apt tribute because the real Bowie, who changed his appearance and style so often.

DB VB

Space Oddity reached number 5, on the UK market, despite being a novelty song. It was timed to release around the time of the first moon landing. It tells the story of Major Tom being stranded in space. In 1982 Peter Schelling continues the story with the song Major Tom. I have been told that I over think and project in to songs (and stories) but I always have thought that Tommy Boy is actually an alien and picked up by his race.

space oddity

Ziggy Stardust blasted Bowie from novelty act to world famous novelty act. (OK, yes I know there were some minor hits between Major Tom and Zig including The Man Who Stole the World, but work with me on this) The Ballad of Ziggy Stardust is my personal favorite Bowie song. Deeply influenced by the Velvet Underground ZSd&tSfM, where pioneer glam rock. The album Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars tells the story of an alien coming to Earth becoming a rock star and warning us that we only have five years left.

Ziggy

Released in 1971 (Is there) Life on Mars, is a song of lost love and alienation. It was redone by of all people Barbara Stiestand. The London Symphony Orchestra, and the Flaming Lips. Though obviously it has a science fiction bent, it may be best known for the title of the English Time Traveling Show, of the same name, and its American clone. It is evidence that a lot of science fiction writers are huge Bowie Fans.

Life on mars

A different Loving the Alien was done by The Velvet underground. As a much younger man I remember watching Bowie’s Loving the Alien on MTV. The video kept my misconceptions that the song was a sci-fi song. The lyrics are about the crusades, and trouble in the Middle East. But this is an example of how my mind going to Sci-Fi with anything that has to do with The Thin White Duke.

 

I have not seen the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth but I did read the book in High School. The main charterer has a lot to do with biography of Ziggy Stardust. In the book he comes to earth to save his world, but abandons his mission when seduced by Earth life. I have seen the part Bowie removes his human disguise and is surprised by the female lead. The moment is both beautiful and creepy.

man who fell

I have not seen The Prestige because someone told me what the twist ending was. But I should if for no other reason than Bowie’s turn as the real world mad scientist Nikola Tesla. The movie about two feuding magicians and strange science is however on the top of my watch list now.

 

When Twin Peaks was being relaunched as a movie, the fact that the new incarnation was going to have David Bowie as a dimensional hopping FBI agent was part of the appeal. As Special Agent Phillip Jefferies he appears mysteriously in an elevator that he disappeared in two years early. And in classic Twin Peaks style he vanishes again after announcing “I found something… and then there they were!”

Fire walk with me

The Hunger is a 1983 vampire movie based on a Whitley Strieber book. David Bowie plays a 200 year old vampire who lover promises him he will live forever. What she neglects to tell him is that after two centuries, even though he won’t die he will start to rapidly age. The show is seen by many as a classic analogy of vampirism as addiction.

Hunger

David Bowie’s most famous Movie role is probably as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth. One of my female friends feels that role is the sexiest thing anyone has ever done in a movie. Not truly science fiction, but Labyrinth is a classic modern fantasy story. In ways he is the classic bad boy from a movie. He steals the baby but only when Jen Connelly’s charcuterie asks him to without knowing he is real. It is a classic case of be careful of what you ask for. In this move he is sexy evil light incarnate.

Jareth-Bowie

 

Check these out

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMacfEGWCo0     _Venture Bros

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLYafk0Lui0&spfreload=10     Ziggy

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfccDapMA14 The man who feel to earth original trailer

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOaqDEjxQAU    loving the alien

 

 

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7 comments on “The Science Fiction of David Bowie

  1. J. C. Conway
    January 17, 2016

    Reblogged this on J. C. Conway.

  2. Lolsy's Library
    January 17, 2016

    You don’t realise how much his music has influenced other things as well. My Mum and I were watching tv and we realised how either they were a lot of Bowie songs in it, or in some way had been influenced by him.

    • davekheath
      January 17, 2016

      Yeah this post was impaired by a conversation I over heard, and It got meto think about how much he influenced others. If I had more time I could post a lot more.

      • Lolsy's Library
        January 17, 2016

        It’s alright, I understand! That happens to me a lot,lol

  3. leftofmormon
    January 18, 2016

    Nice post. I think SF was a good vehicle for Bowie to express his “alternative” thoughts, way of life, etc. I read somewhere that Bowie’s was the music of the very alienated, so the motif if the alien from that perspective makes great sense.

    Do see The Prestige. You may know the ending already, but the photography is fabulous, as is the soundtrack.

    • davekheath
      January 18, 2016

      Thanks for the input will have to check The Prestige out.

  4. Brian Bixby
    January 19, 2016

    Indeed, it was quite an outpouring, much more than I expected, especially since Bowie’s greatest fame was decades ago. I noticed on my blog that the post which went into some detail about “The Hunger” got a great many hits the day after Bowie died. And I see the “Screen Junkies” site issued one of their “Honest Trailers” on “Labyrinth” to capitalize on Bowie’s posthumous popularity. Now, Alan Rickman’s death attracting attention on account of “Harry Potter,” that seems more understandable.

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