Ex Machina remains a strong contender for the best science fiction film of 2015. It’s jam-packed with ideas along with all that psychosexual weirdness. And now at last, writer-director Alex Garland has unpacked where some of those ideas come from.


In case you missed it, Ex Machina is a film where Poe Dameron invites General Hux to his secluded bunker, to meet a lifelike android (who isn’t played by anyone from Star Wars, weirdly.) General Hux is supposed to be testing the android to see if she’s “alive,” but the situation turns out to be a lot more complicated. Basically, it’s a trap.

In an interview with Esquire, Garland lists the books and films that influenced his acclaimed film. And there are some surprises on there. Like, not only two Ray Kurzweil books, but also Machine Language for Beginners by Richard Mansfield. And The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose. And Wittgenstein! Plus Steven Levy’s profile of Google’s Demis Hassabis. There are also two films on the list: 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Altered States.

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.