Greenwich Village may be a big mall now, but it used to be one of the most alien locations in America. Full of beatniks, hippies and freaks, it seemed like a natural hang-out for a slumming monster. In classic scifi, the Village is always full of bizarre acid trips and aliens who pass unnoticed. Click through for our round-up of way-out Village tales.
Greenwich Village in the 50s and 60s was a place where anything seemed possible. Not only did writers like Samuel Delany and Kurt Vonnegut live in the Village back in the day, but some of the weirdest science fiction stories take place there. Just consider:
The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson. This is the first novel in the "Greenwich Village Trilogy." But the other two novels, written by other authors, aren't nearly as well known. Anderson's semi-autobiographical novel has a main character named after himself, and a supporting character named after his roommate at the time. Aliens are supplying a new kind of drug, known as "Reality Pills," which cause your LSD hallucinations to become physically real. One character takes the Reality Pills and is able to make butterflies appear spontaneously, all colors and sizes. Chester faces the vicious Blue Lobster aliens, who hook him up to a machine that forces him to experience horrifying visions that he would have paid to see otherwise. He writes: "I was the rabbit in the moon. I was as corny as Kansas in orbit. I wasn't thinking very well at all!" The book's Amazon reviews are full of raves about how true to the 1960s Village scene it is.
Hark! Was That The Scream Of An Angry Thoat? by Avram Davidson. A surreal description of the Village of the 1950s, populated by weird caricatures of science fiction writers including Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett. John Carter, Warlord of Mars stalks through the city looking for Edgar Rice Burroughs. Later, "a Thark astride a thoat rides through the streets." There are loving descriptions of the Open Air Market off Bleecker St., interspersed with a four-armed green monster rampaging down the street.
Green Lantern. Fighter-pilot Hal Jordan went nuts and lost the right to be Green Lantern, and his replacement was artist Kyle Raynor. We could tell he was a more bohemian artist type, because he lived in an artisty studio above a coffee shop in the Village. And because he wore a sandwich press on his face.
The Youth Information Party Line. Not fiction, but a very scifi piece of retro-futurism. An early cyberpunk experiment, the YIPL set up shop in the Yippie headquarters on Bleecker St. in 1971. A phone phreak who called himself Al Bell worked with Abbie Hoffman to "liberate" the communications infrastructure. But the venture broke up in 1973 because Bell wanted it to stick to technical assistance and Hoffman wanted it to be political.
"Walking The Floor Over You" by Walter Simons, from the Wild Cards: Deuces Down anthology. Bob runs a comedy club in the Village called the Village Idiot, and his star comedian, Carlotta has the telepathic power to induce laughter in her audiences. When mysterious bad guys start coming after Carlotta, Bob has to use his power to turn into a puddle to save her.
Conan The Barbarian. When Conan travels in space and time, guess where he ends up? At least the hairstyle fits right in.
Sleeper. Okay, it doesn't actually take place in the Village, but Woody Allen's macrobiotic health-food store owner lives there, before he's frozen for 200 years. And his flakey Village person sensibility makes him the perfect wide-eyed stranger in a future that's both more laid-back and more repressive than the 1970s.