Space Roundup: Horror Stories, Psychic Astronauts and Galactic Ghouls


Houston, we have a problem. (Allied Artists/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

My name is Robert Lamb, and I get excited about space horror. And I don't just mean really good stuff like "Alien." I will gladly endure such lackluster entries as "Event Horizon" and even the such utter cheese as "Jason X" and "Leprechaun 4: In Space." I am still trying to talk my wife into watching 2009's "Pandorum" with me. That movie's better than it has any right to be, people.

Aside from my posts here at the HowStuffWorks.com blogs, I also contribute to the Discovery Space blogs. The crew there does a fantastic job of covering breaking space news, and I throw in my own takes on a variety of topical or weird space subjects. So here's a look at just a handful of the topics I've covered there over the past few months:

5 Frightening (But True) Space Stories The space age is young, but it has already introduced a handful of bizarre and frightening situations or concepts. Are you ready for the horrors of going No. 2 in orbit? How would you rate an astronaut's chances of being eaten by wolves? Will the future allow us to have awkward sex in space? Discover the horrifying answers here.

The USSR Considered Training Psychic Cosmonauts You've got to love the concept of piloting a space ship using ONLY YOUR MIND. I'm not sure that we've really seen the concept exploited in straight-up space horror, but such works as "Dune" and "The Worthing Chronicle" certainly have some horrifying moments -- and both works feature space psychics. But did Russian scientists actually consider enlisting spoon-bending cosmonauts? Find out here.

NASA Unleashes the Galactic Ghoul? The Galactic Ghoul follows in the footsteps of gremlins and sea monsters, personifying what happens when fallible technology heads into uncharted and hostile territory. Just when did NASA coin this term, and when did it last strike? Find out here.

Dwarves in Space: Colonization, "Phantasm" and Transhumanism If you've never seen a "Phantasm" film, then you're missing out on the best film ever about creepy old men, undead dwarves and flying silver death balls. Also, you probably didn't have cable access in the '90s. The films are pretty far from hard sci-fi, but a number of intriguing scientific quandaries spin off from it rather nicely. Hint: What possible reason is there to turn a human corpse into an undead dwarve slave? Read about it all here.

Cobble those ideas together, and I think you have one heck of a sci-fi horror flick on your hands. Genetically altered psychic cosmonauts deal with a haunted space toilet while adrift in the cosmic Bermuda triangle? That had "SyFy Original Picture" written all over it.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.