Archive for September 13, 2014


When writing science fiction, I enjoy including knowledge gained during my former career in science in my stories to give them an air of realism and draw the reader into a world where the borders between fact and fiction blur.

I have had the pleasure, of late, to view that approach adopted, to some extent, by some recent TV shows. I also appreciate the new approach these outlets are using in presenting their programs. More on that appreciation will follow in another post.

One program I have been following, and I hope you fans of horror have also, is The Strain, based on the novel of the same name written by Guillermo del Toro seen on Sunday nights on FX. Vampires are the beasts in question and for the first time, to my knowledge, an explanation is given for the condition and its spread. Also detailed is a reason for the monster’s primary weakness – sunlight.

Ever since Bram Stoker penned his classic novel, Dracula in 1897, horror fans have been fascinated by this lustful amoral sucker of blood. Beginning with the classic film, Nosferatu, seen in 1922 followed by vampire movies starring Bela Lugosi and on to Christopher Lee we have witnessed countless young maidens come under the spell of these heartless fiends through their bite. But how is this evil trait passed from one victim to the next? The Strain has answered that question.

A virus is the culprit.

More and more we are becoming aware of the horror viruses can weak. From polio to the appearance in the western world of AIDS in the early 1980s to the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa, viruses have left their mark on mankind. I find it fascinating that a virus is now being used in the formation of vampires. Granted, the vampires in The Strain do not follow the classic manner in neck bites seen in days of old. These current vampires have a much more dramatic method. Also cleverly explained is their weakness to the sun, nicely tied into their propagation by a virus.

Those who have worked with tissue culture I’m sure have do so in a biological safety hood. When the hoods are not in use a UV lamp is illuminated to destroy any bacteria or viruses lurking within. In The Strain scientist fighting the disease are caught in a convenience store which, in addition to selling the usual fare of magazines, soda and beef jerky, has a well-stocked supply of UV lamps. And vampires are susceptible to UV rays such as those found in sunlight.

I love it!

The scientist use the UV lamps the combat the vampires when leaving the building. They also mention that the lamps are useless while they are inside for the rays do not penetrate glass, which is true.

I find this show entertaining not only because of the horror but also for the use of correct science. I also now know the answer to another burning question I have pondered: Why are nubile bikini-clad women never attacked by vampires in the dead of night while using tanning beds? It’s the UV rays.

Another program I’ve been following is Falling Skies broadcast also on Sunday nights by TNT. Aliens have attacked earth and are powering their ships using electricity beamed from the moon. One of the characters says, “Just like Tesla predicted.” He’s right.

Back when the use of electricity was in its infancy, a debate began between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla as to what form of electricity should be provided to customers. Edison was for direct current (DC) and Tesla for alternating current (AC). Fortunately Tesla won, AC being a safer product. Tesla also wanted to transmit electricity without the use of wires, solely through the atmosphere just as the aliens are doing in Falling Skies.

Finding science fact in science fiction and horror makes the genre all that more interesting.

September 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm 1 comment


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