The Science Fiction Film Reader


REVIEW by Willard Manus

Lovers of science fiction films have a treat in store for them. Limelight Editions has just published THE SCIENCE FICTION FILM READER, a book which collects some of the best reviews and articles dealing with the movie genre. Ranging from interviews with such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Robert Wise and Don Siegel to think pieces by Arthur C. Clarke, Anthony Burgess and Susan Sontag, the book can be read straight through as history or taken in small bits and pieces, as cinematic smorgasbord.

Editor Gregg Rickman has authored previous books on film, plus a biography of Philip K. Dick, who wrote the story (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) on which the sci-fi classic film Blade Runner was based. Rickman also interviews Dick in THE SCIENCE FICTION FILM READER, detailing his battles with director Ridley Scott over the adaptation of Androids. Ultimately, Scott had his way, making major changes in the story which Dick grudgingly came to admire.

"Dick was a fan of Blade Runner, then, in the final months of his life, but he recognized that it was in the film's background density rather than its foreground story that his own vision was most vividly realized," Rickman writes. "The final compromising of a very audacious film project would have saddened the author, but not surprised him."

READER is broken down into 13 different sections: Foundations, Adventures in Outer Space, The 1950s, Imagining Disaster, The 1960s, Kubrick and Others, Star Wars, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Films of Philip K. Dick (Total Recall and Paycheck are his other two credits), Cyborg Cinema, Travels in Time and Place, Gods and Aliens, Not every essay in the book is laudatory; George F. Will on E.T., for example, dismisses the movie with this wisecrack: compared to real science, "space elves are dull as ditchwater."