Patton Oswalt Talks the Last 25 Years of Science FictionPhoto by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Comedy Features Patton Oswalt
The SYFY Network turns 25 this month, and to celebrate the cable channel has asked some of the biggest stars and fans of genre fiction to talk about the last quarter century of pop culture. One of those fans is stand-up great (and proud Emmy man) Patton Oswalt, whose nerd bona fides are beyond reproach. Throughout his career Oswalt has established himself as a passionate voice for sci-fi, comics and the larger spectrum of geek culture. As you’ll see in his answers to SYFY’s survey, he’s still as knowledgeable and opinionated about this stuff as ever.
Oswalt’s next stand-up special, Annihilation, will be out on Netflx on Oct. 17. Later this year he can be heard as the voice of Happy the Horse in the SYFY series Happy!, which is based on the comic from Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, and premieres on Nov. 29. He’s also a member of the newly formed SYFY Advisory Council, which, per a press release, “features diverse leading voices in the genre, from creators to influencers to on-screen stars and more, to provide guidance for the network as it embraces its renewed commitment to science fiction and fandom at large.” Other names on that panel alongside Oswalt include Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Carlton Cuse, Luc Besson, Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds, and more. And if you want to learn more about SYFY’s 25th anniversary, you can check out the new podcast SYFY25: Origin Stories, a 15-part series hosted by Adam Savage of Mythbusters and featuring some of the most storied figures in the speculative fiction business, including Neil Gaiman, Rick Baker, Frank Oz, Jonathan Frakes and more. And if you want to relive what’s probably still SYFY’s most beloved show, there’s a Battlestar Galactica marathon running the weekend of Sept. 22-24, which coincides with the actual anniversary on Sept. 24.
While you’re getting ready for those surefire gems to grace your television box and pod-playing machine, read through Oswalt’s SYFY survey, and learn about his favorite shows, most beloved characters and why invisibility sucks as a superpower. There’ll be more surveys just like this one from other stars and creators over at SYFY’s website next week.
The one thing you geek out over the most: Post-apocalypse science fiction.
The first thing you remember geeking out over: Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars
The science-fiction / fantasy creator you most respect: Harlan Ellison.
Your geeky guilty pleasure: Superhero movies. Even when they’re completely awful, they tend to be awful in fascinating and entertaining ways. And they say waaaaay more about what we desire as humans than we might want them to.
The current state of science-fiction in three words: Action over actuality.
The biggest genre game-changer of the last 25 years: Alien—introducing the aspects of capitalism and social class into science fiction.
The best quote from anyone in the genre, real or fictional: “There are only three science fiction plots: What If, If Only, and If This Goes On”—Isaac Asimov
The best genre movie of the last 25 years: Unbreakable.
The best genre series of the last 25 years: Battlestar Galactica, brilliant even with all of its flaws.
The best genre book of the last 25 years: The entirety of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun.
The best comic book of the last 25 years: Warren Ellis’s Planetary.
The best videogame of the last 25 years: Oh man, I don’t play enough videogames to answer this one, I’m sorry.
The best genre theme song or soundtrack of the last 25 years: Twin Peaks.
A movie that desperately needs a remake: Videodrome or Scanners.
On the flipside, a movie that should never be remade: Jaws.
The genre character you most admire and why: Ripley from the first two Alien movies. Resourceful, and truly brave—because she gets frightened and then conquers her fear. A true hero.
The genre character you most despite and why: Ripley from the third and fourth Alien movies. Her resourcefulness I curdled into nihilism in the third movie (for no reason) and then contempt in the fourth (for even less of a reason). Ugh.
The genre character you love that no one else seems to pay attention to: John Garrett from Elektra: Assassin. The Frank Miller conception of him—boozy, self-loathing and weirdly moral.
If you could live in any fictional universe or reality, it would be: Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga universe, ‘cuz of the amazing array of species and cultures, or Richard Corben’s Magic Planet (‘cuz of the big boobs and giant women).
A scene from a movie that scared the ever living shit out of you: The dog with the old man’s head in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The most underrated sci-fi / fantasy movie of all time: The ‘80s Flash Gordon.
The most overrated sci-fi / fantasy movie of all time: The Matrix.
The fictional character with the best style: Rick Deckard in Blade Runner. Death from the Sandman comics.
The best Batman was: We haven’t seen him yet.
The LOTR character you’d like to be: Gandalf.
The LOTR character you’d actually be: Some douchebag who gets killed right at the middle of one of those major battles after pooping his pants in fear.
The most unforgivable insult in all of nerddom: The Star Wars prequels.
People in fantasy tales are always British because: British people are magic.
If you could have one superpower it would be: No-fail teleportation.
Which superpower comes with the biggest drawbacks—flight, invisibility or telekinesis?: Invisibility. Still too many ways to get seen unless you’re reeeeeaaalllly careful. It’s a superpower you can’t truly enjoy while you’re using it.
If you were a hero, your sidekick would be: A very good personal injury lawyer.
The Sorting Hat would put you in: Hufflepuff.
Your patronus would be: A bag of Cheetos.
On a voyage through space, your captain would be: Kirk.
If you could pick one genre vehicle, your ride would be: Max Rockatansky’s V8 Interceptor.
Who would win in a fight between Dumbledore and Gandalf?: Gandalf.
Who would win in a fight between Picard and Kirk?: Picard.
Who would win in a fight between Wonder Woman and Superman?: Draw. Isn’t he susceptible to magic?
Who would win in a fight between Hulk and Thor?: Hulk.
In six words or less, what words of wisdom do you have for fellow fans?: To quote Shaky Kane: “Forget cool. Love everything.”