Sorry No Gas: Photos from Documerica, 1972 – 1975

At the dawning of the 1970s, Americans were more aware than ever of the great damage more than a century of unrestricted industry had done to their country. With the passing of Richard Nixon’s Reorganization Plan Number 3 by Congress in 1970, the U.S. government welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency to the roster of federal agencies. The EPA was meant to consolidate federal efforts to protect America’s air, water, and soil, and to give environmental protection efforts a fiercer executive independence…

Fontana Modern Masters Cover Gallery, 1970 – 1984

The Fontana Modern Masters series was conceived in the late 1960s at Scottish publishers William Collins & Company’s Fontana imprint. Fontana Books had spent its first decade publishing inexpensive paperback pulp and detective fiction, priced between two and three shillings. But, in May 1968, revolutionary theory and Situationist praxis caught fire in the streets of Paris, as students plastered walls and barricades with catchy slogans meant to détourne the mainstream postwar advertising culture around which they’d grown up…

Avenge Me!: American Catharsis in 1980s Soviet Invasion Fantasies

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s probably gave a lot of thought (and worry) to the depictions of the aftermath of nuclear war. Films like The Day After and Testament in the US (1983), and Threads (1984) and When the Wind Blows (book, 1982; animated film, 1986) in the UK graphically portrayed the results of a global thermonuclear war. But what about the stories where the Soviets actually, physically invade the West using conventional forces?

Threnody in Black and Gold: ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ as Cold War Historiography

By Michael Grasso

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Return arrived on television screens in the summer of 2017, promising to take fans of the original 1990-1991 ABC series back to the comfort of coffee and cherry pie at the Double-R Diner. What Lynch and Frost delivered was a sometimes bewildering 18-hour film that tested the limits of serialized television storytelling…

Theory and Conjecture: ‘In Search of…’ and the Golden Age of Paranormal TV

Last week, a story came across the We Are The Mutants news desk that inspired equal parts hope and dread: a reboot of the classic paranormal documentary series In Search of… is in the works, appropriately hosted by 21st century’s Mr. Spock, Zachary Quinto. I like Quinto well enough, and appreciate the sentiment of trying to resurrect probably one of the most important television shows from my youth. But of course I’m extremely skeptical about how well it will recreate the oddball outsider art aesthetic of the original series…

Sticks and Stones: ‘Dowsing and Archaeology’ and ‘Site and Survey Dowsing,’ 1980

These two odd little volumes were discovered a few months ago in an antiquarian book shop in Canterbury, UK. Published by the British Society of Dowsers in 1980, Dowsing and Archaeology and Site and Survey Dowsing collectively offer a few dozen short articles, culled from the annals of the Journal of the British Society of Dowsers over the half-century leading up to 1980. As the book titles make clear, these articles take dowsing past its usual folk magic remit of finding sources of water and into territory usually ceded to archeologists or metal detectorists: finding ancient objects and the outlines of ancient structures…

Altering Reality on a Shoestring Budget: PBS’s ‘The Lathe of Heaven’

By Michael Grasso

In the wake of the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin last week, I took the opportunity to revisit one of the more fascinating products of her life and career: the 1980 television-movie adaptation of her 1971 novel The Lathe of Heaven. Produced by station WNET in New York City, the film is the summation of nearly a decade of technological and artistic experimentation in public television…

‘UFO Drawings From The National Archives’ by David Clarke, 2017

A recent spate of books have sought to analyze the visual culture of 20th-century ufology. 2016’s Flying Saucers Are Real!, which featured the archive of science fiction writer and amateur UFO material collector Jack Womack, offered richly-drawn, full-color images of UFO culture from every decade of the phenomenon. What Flying Saucers Are Real! did for American ufology, David Clarke’s UFO Drawings From The National Archives does for the United Kingdom…