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Gainesville Author Invades Theaters Worldwide

Rick Yancey poses for a photo provided to WUFT by his publicist. "The 5th Wave" will be debut in theatres with early showings Thursday night.
Rick Yancey poses for a photo provided to WUFT by his publicist. "The 5th Wave" will be debut in theatres with early showings Thursday night.

He asked his wife: What is your greatest fear?

It was 4 a.m.

She said aliens.

Rick Yancey said his wife admitted that the thought of aliens being out in the universe is horrifying. Not only because of possible human abductions, but also because if humans were to return to earth after being abducted nobody would believe them.

Yancey decided to take that concept and write his own story. He published “The 5th Wave,” the first novel in a three-part series, in 2013.

In the novel,  aliens invade Earth in an effort to destroy the human population while keeping the planet and its resources intact. The main character is Cassie Sullivan, who tries to survive while finding her family that she lost during the planet's takeover.

Although the film “The 5th Wave” is already open in select screens overseas, it will be shown in local theaters beginning January 22.

“I have always been a huge fan of science fiction,” Yancey said. “This book was my first encounter with extraterrestrial life.”

After Penguin House published “The 5th Wave” it hit number one on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers List under Young Adult Paperbacks. It was also the first time one of his 13 novels would be transformed into a motion picture.

Sony Pictures bought the novel’s screening rights before Yancey was even finished writing it.

“It’s a whole different art from,” Yancey said. “It took a small army to make it happen, opposed to a book, which is a writer and editor hashing out things from nothing.”

As a Gainesville resident and lover of nature, Yancey said that writing outside in Florida had an impact on the novel’s theme.

“It made me so much more productive with the writing,” Yancey said about his time in Gainesville. “I spent a lot of extra time outside.”

Like Yancey, Joe Haldeman, a science fiction author and Gainesville resident, found that the local environment has seeped into his work.

Haldeman said that he writes in the mornings and rides his bicycle to local coffee shops and writes all of his novels longhand.

“Riding my bike makes it a calmer start for the day,” Haldeman said. “As a writer, you want to live in a place that is not environmentally difficult.”

Haldeman also said that living in a university town can be great for writers because of all the activity, libraries, book stores and being surround by the younger generation.

He referred to Gainesville as “the city of trees” and found that a smaller city is something that has positively impacted his writing.

Although Yancey balances his time between living in Gainesville, since 2005, and in Knoxville, a much larger city, the rural environment and warm weather has influenced his science fiction novels.

On February 17 and 18, a roundtable discussion with climate scientists and science fiction authors will take place in the Reitz Union Ball Room on The University of Florida’s campus. The event is called “Imagining Climate Change: Science and Fiction in Dialogue”, and will feature New York Times Best Selling author, Tobias Buckell.

“With concerns about flooding and being right in the middle of many a hurricane’s path, I think any author growing up in Gainesville probably has a strong awareness of the power of nature,” Buckell said.

Yancey said that “The 5th Wave” film will incorporate the same aspects of the novel, including what humans have done to planet earth, including over population, climate change and resource management.

The third and final book in the series will be published in May of 2016. Yancey said that a tour would then be put together with Florida as one of its stops.

Although the film “The 5th Wave” is already open in select screens over seas, it will be shown in local theaters beginning January 22.

The PG-13 rated movie based on Yancey’s novel was reviewed by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that helps parents and children navigate through today’s technology. The organization rates books, movies, apps and video games in hopes that parents and teachers will regulate how media impacts young children’s education.

Regan McMahon, a Common Sense Media’s children’s books reviewer, said that they might give a novel 5 stars for quality, but because of its violence and intense nature, they still want to warn parents of its content, which happened with Yancey’s “The 5th Wave”.

“Kids might think that after seeing Star Wars that they like sci-fi,” McMahon said. “But this novel is one about an alien invasion where the entire world is almost wiped out which might scare some kids.”

With today’s sophisticated special effects, movies and advertisements can really impact children’s emotions, McMahon explained.

Common Sense Media rated “The 5th Wave” as a novel for ages 13 and older, which correlates with its PG-13 rated film that will air on Friday.

Yancey and McMahon agreed that aliens taking over the world would be scary. Mrs. Yancey seemed to be onto something that one night at 4 a.m.


Kristina is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.