Saturday, August 17, 2013

National Geographic, Vol. 133, No.2, February 1968 (the Jaws issue)

Even if you were not one of those families like mine who received the National Geographic magazine in the mail every month, you might still get a twinge of deja vu should you happen to flip through the February 1968 issue.

That's because pages of this issue were prominently featured in a little film you may have heard of.... Jaws. In the scene where Chief Brody is flipping through the pages of a book about sharks to educate himself (and the audience) on the history and biology of the 25-foot menace that has invaded his beach-front home...

...we are actually seeing the pages of several different books cleverly edited together to appear as if belonging to a single volume. Many of the pages viewed are from the National Geographic article Sharks: Wolves of the Sea (Nathanial T. Kenney).

Pgs.230-231, diagram by William H. Bond, Geographic Art Division. This graphic efficiently informs the audience that sharks are attracted to splashing sounds.

Pg.251, photo of a shark biting down on an aluminum rod used to measure bite strength in tons. The picture establishes the fact that sharks will bite down on large, heavy, metalic objects (making the climax, which requires our villianous great white to bite onto a scuba tank, a little more...uh, palatable and believable for the audience than it might otherwise have been.)

Pgs.242-243, a diver swims along a 9-foot grey nurse shark in an Australian aquarium.

Pgs.228-229, a 12-foot Australian great white. The audience hasn't seen much of the actual shark yet at this point in the film, and this is a very cost-effective way of planting in our mind what is supposed to be lurking out there in the murky depths.

Pgs.246-247, a shark chomps "ham-sized" chunks of flesh out of a dead porpoise.

Pg.249, an Australian shark tower. This photo reminds the audience that the problem of shark attacks is neither unique or rare. This threat is real.

Pgs.238-239, this painting by Paule Calle recreates an actual incident of a 12-foot shark attacking a lobstermen's boat off Canada's Cape Breton Island in 1953. It also let's the audience know that a boat is no safe-haven from a hungry shark.

Other pages from this scene, among them graphic shark-attack injuries and the fossilized jaws of prehistoric megalodon, come from various other books: Sharks and Rays (Spencer Wilkie Tinker, 1973); The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea (Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1970); Sportfishing for Sharks (Frank Mundus, 1971); About Sharks and Shark Attacks (David H. Davies, 1964); and Dangerous Marine Animals (Bruce W. Haulstead, 1959).

This bibliography comes from the excellent and highly recommended 2013 documentary Inside Jaws (created by Jamie Benning, one of a series of informative and entertaining "filmumentaries").

Friday, August 2, 2013

Science Fiction Tales (Roger Elwood, Rod Ruth, 1973)

And finally here's Science Fiction Tales, the remaining entry in a series of hardcover science fiction/horror anthology books for children published by Rand McNally in the 70s (I previously posted on Monster Tales, Horror Tales, Tales of Terror, Baleful Beasts and Eerie Creatures, and this book's direct follow-up, More Science Fiction Tales).

Edited by Roger Elwood and illustrated by Rod Ruth, here are seven stories by seven authors, with an introduction by Theodore Sturgeon.


In the first story, Keevan, a young boy on an alien world, participates in a coming-of-age ritual that revolves around the hatching of baby dragons. The alien world is Pern, and this tale turns out to be an early entry in McCaffrey's successfull Dragonriders of Pern franchise.

ALONE IN SPACE (Arthur Tofte)

A young boy left alone in a spaceship after the death of his father must outsmart space pirates looking for rare interplanetary gems. The boy cleverly uses a display case of geological samples to disguise his valuable payload.

THE MYSTERIOUS GEM (Claire Edwin Street)

Two kids cross paths with blue-skinned aliens after happening upon a teleportation device.


In this werewolf story transplanted to an alien world with three moons, the livestock of interplanetary colonists are being killed and eaten by some mysterious animal whenever the moon and the moon and the moon is full....

THE LAUGHING LION (Raymond F. Jones)

A boy accidentally time-travels back in time to a medieval castle on the eve of its mysterious destruction. A knight wearing the crest of a laughing lion helps protect him and his egg-shaped craft from superstitious villagers.


The last young survivor of a spaceship in which the rest of the crew has been killed off one by one after succumbing to madness, encounters friendly plant-like aliens.

SOME ARE BORN CATS (Terry & Carol Carr)

This humorous story suggests your pet cat just might be an alien in disguise.