Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies

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Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies

Post  BoG on Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:30 pm


by C.J. Henderson * Foreword by William Shatner * Checkmark Books, 2001 * Softcover * 516 pgs

A fairly comprehensive alphabetical reference book on science fiction films, through the year 2000, by an experienced reviewer & interviewer. The claim is of nearly 2000 entries, which seems right. He includes the required information such as year of release, length, key actors & production people but, especially for the more well-known films, he stresses a lengthy plot description and personal commentary on each film's strengths and/or weaknesses. What are considered minor films by most are usually given only a couple of sentences (example: The Day the World Ended/1956). Perhaps he just wasn't too familiar with these small films and not everything is accurate; in his entry for Attack of the 50-foot Woman, he writes that she was finished off by the military, which is not the case. Forbidden Planet gets the full page treatment.

This is strictly science fiction - no Sinbad or Dracula movies, for example - though he includes Sci-Fi/Horror amalgams and Sci-Fi comedy such as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. For many of the film sequels - Star Trek's series of films is a good example - he does not include a separate entry for each film. Rather, he begins with Star Trek-the Motion Picture and continues to describe the sequels within the same entry.

Speaking of Star Trek, William Shatner - Capt. Kirk himself - provides a 2-page foreword. Typically, Shatner goes his own way, off in his own private world, and begins by describing his movie-going experiences as a young man of epics such as The Ten Commandments & Cleopatra(1963) and their impact on cinema and the studios. Uh, Capt. Kirk, this is an encyclopedic book of science fiction...hello? In the 2nd half of the foreword he does switch to discussing 2001: A Space Odyssey and other elements of Sci-Fi, thankfully.

The book is sparsely illustrated with stills - about 90, which works out to about one every 5-6 pages. He also includes a Stock Footage Alert in the entries of certain low budget films (Robot Monster) but this did not seem very complete. There are also a few oddball & interesting sections in the back of the book: a look at the language of Quest For Fire, an interview with Frank Herbert ("Dune") and the literary sources for some of the movies in the book.
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