A few weeks ago I spotted, in someone's trash, Isaac Asimov's science fiction classic, The Foundation Trilogy. Shortly after, I found the 1954 giant-ants-in-L.A. film, Them, in a discount store video bin. Garbage to some, these tales were once treasures to me, although I prefer science fiction more subtle than the formulaic doomsday scenarios of humanity succumbing to oversized or overabundant (a) birds, (b) mind-snatching seed pods, (c) blobs, and of course (d) ants. The humans always prevail.

The best plotlines echo evolution. The 1951 film When Worlds Collide, for example, dramatizes the founder effect and eugenics. A few humans, selected for their superior intelligence, board a spaceship to escape an earth suddenly in the path of an oncoming planet, to settle elsewhere and found a human colony. (This theme reemerged in 1997's Asteroid, a film so bad my husband dubbed it Hemorrhoid.) Similarly, postnuclear-holocaust scenarios...

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