Book Review: "James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction"

I love, love, love this book.

Get ready for one looooooonnnnng review! I'll break apart every section in the book for you guys–and sure hope you buy it, because the book has a wealth of info beyond what I'm able to express here!

Maybe I'm on a roll from being interviewed about books the other day on the radio! What an exciting day to be a guest and talk about intellectual things for a change, and I'm so grateful to have been invited to do so! If you're curious, I pop up on this UK radio show, The Mother of All Talk Shows, hosted by former UK member of parliament (MP) George Galloway around 1:45:12. The books I mentioned as inspiring me the most in my teen years were The Diary of Anne Frank and The Time Machine. Side note, thank you so much to Mr. Galloway and staff. Everyone I know loved the book talk portion of the show I was featured on! UK and USA pals!

When I say "grateful," I mean thank you-OH WOW-thanks-jump for joy-thank you level. I'm so used to in the past people asking me things that were really stupid assuming I couldn't speak. They would speak to others at an event, or have me on a radio show, and after having a stimulating conversation, ask me things like, "So....you do this?" As if I were dumb as rocks. Thank goodness I rarely deal with that anymore. And, I mean it from my heart, thank you to all at the radio show for treating me well.

My website absolutely lacked book reviews. People always wanted me to do book reviews, and to me, because many new books are chick lit or wanting to be another Twilight. Books didn't move me unless they were classics. And it hit me, "I could read books that interest me and review them. I don't have to review Gossip Girl Imitation Novel 35 as everyone else does, or that fake-y public speaker's book. Hardly anyone else is online giving credible reviews to these film industry titles. Young people who want to make movies could benefit from hearing what I have to say!"

And here we are, everyone! My first film related book review.

You may watch some of the interviews directly on AMC's website. As someone who has seen them, I highly recommend the tag-a-long book to refresh yourself over what people said on the show and read the additional material.

The formal book description is pretty straightforward. Clearly, this is a book about what it says it is about. No hiding! You think that might be rare nowadays; really, it's not. Publishers always release books you think are going to be stupendous works and are like another Sex and the City or Lord of the Rings knockoff of a knockoff of a knockoff. By the time you get three or four layers down into the imitators, things get really sour.

Luckily, James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction is a good book, really, really, yes.

The perfect companion to AMC’s six-part television series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, this unique book explores the history and evolution of the genre with contributions from the filmmakers who have helped bring it to life.

For the show, James Cameron personally interviewed six of the biggest names in science fiction filmmaking—Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ridley Scott, and Steven Spielberg—to get their perspectives on the importance and impact of the genre. This book reproduces the interviews in full as the greatest minds in the genre discuss key topics including alien life, time travel, outer space, dark futures, monsters, and intelligent machines.

An in-depth interview with Cameron is also featured, plus essays by experts in the science fiction field on the main themes covered in the show. Illustrated with rare and previously unseen concept art from Cameron’s personal archives, plus imagery from iconic sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books, James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction offers a sweeping examination of a genre that continues to ask questions, push limits, and thrill audiences around the world.

James Cameron is an Oscar®-winning film director, celebrated explorer, and the visionary behind record-setting blockbuster movies such as Titanic, Avatar, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Cameron’s passion for diving and exploration has led him to embark on a number of trailblazing deep-sea expeditions, including more than thirty dives to Titanic. Cameron made history when he undertook the first-ever solo dive to the Mariana Trench in 2012.

Brooks Peck is a curator at the Museum of Pop Culture. There he has curated exhibitions on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, among others. He also cowrote two creature features for the Syfy Channel, Rage of the Yeti and Zombie Apocalypse. He lives in Seattle.

Randall Frakes has been an author and screenwriter for thirty-five years. Frakes wrote novelizations of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and edited Titanic: James Cameron’s Illustrated Screenplay. He lives in Los Angeles.
— Simon & Schuster
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I'll share a few images with you I found online before I get into the actual review. Super cool book...

All rights are owned by the respective publisher(s). I am only posting these to encourage people to get a copy and enjoy the book. You may get your copy at Amazon, Apple iBooks, and the show itself on iTunes.

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On iTunes, someone left a negative review saying he/she wished James Cameron interviewed scientists instead of his fellow filmmakers. OK, I get it. And for season two of this show if ever it happened, how amazing would that be?

As for season one, and the book I'm about to review based on the show, you should know what you're in for when you rent/purchase a show on iTunes with descriptives like "Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott, Milla Jovovich and others explore what terrifies us about monsters and why we like being scared so much." Is Ridley Scott a scientist? No. By comparison, that's like me knowingly buying a neon orange 1980's Miami Vice pantsuit and being upset it's orange and tacky. You know what you're in for. Did you think it were something George Clooney might wear? Exactly.

 

First Thoughts

What I Disliked

The Story of Science Fiction is interviews with a select number of filmmakers. All of them are the more established filmmakers and not tomorrow's filmmakers. Examples of people I would have included in the book:

• I Origins director Mike Cahill. His prior film was Another EarthI Origins is one outstanding movie. Unconventional, realistic, modern science fiction blended into religious overtones. That story is probably about as original as anything crafted by the people Mr. Cameron did interview for the AMC book/TV series. Neglecting Mike Cahill is a major "what!?!"

 Wall-E director Andrew Stanton. Animation didn't get any love with this special. Wall-E fits into whatever Mr. Cameron discusses in the book/show and, because it's a Pixar work, is flatly ignored. Wall-E covers a dystopian future during which humanity has downright abandoned earth. Our little guy, Wall-E the robot, is the only thinking individual left with his little pal, a cockroach, who I promise you guys, isn't creepy. The animators did a beautiful job with the difficult task of cute-ifying a creepy roach. Humanity has all but turned obese living out in space, ignoring life in front of them because they are all glued to technology. A robot controls the aircraft pilot. Artificial intelligence has taken over the world! What does Mr. Stanton have to do? Mr. Cameron talked about the dying earth aspect on Interstellar, the artificial intelligence question a lot, and hello!?!? Wall-E meets all the criteria to be in this selection! What gives!?!

• War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves. The pressure on him to revitalize an iconic film franchise must be insane. Young people I meet all the time love the new Planet of the Apes. To me, I'm always for the original, very first film. Everything else is second banana. HAHAHA, did you see I snuck in an ape joke? :D Mr. Reeves could have talked after the Steven Spielberg portion on what it's like taking over for when the men who kickstarted sci-fi films into the mainstream are no longer around. We don't live forever. Life happens. Someone else has to take over.

• Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. People online declared his film the best of the bunch since A New Hope.

• Adam Rifkin, Small Soldiers director. A very underrated film beloved by all. He's really established; why wasn't he invited?

Iron Man 3 director Shane Black. You can't get more sci-fi than Iron Man.

• Zack Synder? Man of Steel? Sure, sure, invite Mr. Nolan, the film's producer, and ignore Zack Snyder.

• Patty Jenkins. Some Wonder Woman movie was a big deal everywhere. It's not like she'd know anything about sci-fi as storytelling.

• Futurama creator Matt Groening. Evidently because his, oh, ENTIRE SHOW set the bar higher.

• People who score music for sci-fi films. Anyone who does that? Music is storytelling too!

...and others! Or, we could've done a one on one with the major folks and included the new names at a roundtable afterwards. Someone reading this book could take away, "Only these filmmakers are important. Only George Lucas and so-and-so is capable of changing the science fiction landscape.


The lack of special effects people interviewed. Directors get all the credit. You cannot make a movie without the effects people. Our culture will never memorize their names. They'll never have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Why can't we give them a little bit of credit interviewing them for this book/show?


Not my idea. Stealing it. Interview scientists about theories. ;) Kinda agreeing with that anonymous iTunes user. Kip Thorne the physicist gets name dropped here. The perfect interview, and it's not here! Heartbreaking. One interview with Mr. Thorne would've made me happy.


The book is called Jame Cameron's Story of Science Fiction when others participate in writing it. He didn't sit here alone and do all this. Other writes beautifully participated in the science fiction discussion. The right term should be The Story of Science Fiction in Hollywood. Credit is due when it's well deserved. I "get" marketing this with James Cameron as the main name. Please, I would've bought the book had his name not been in the title.

 

What I Liked

• A non-journalist doing journalism! Stealing a thought from a teacher I had when I complained about biased journalists on both sides of the political spectrum and nobody in between, "You have to care about the topic personally to be a good journalist." He's probably the only good journalism teacher I had and amongst the few good teachers I ever had. Yes, in another life, I did the whole college thing out of pressure from my parents! James Cameron in this book does so much better of a job interviewing peers because he cares. Journalists covering film either make it super boring or off into the too-analytical realm. It never feels at home, as in, you know everyone here is really invested in what the other person is saying and doing. Journalists look at things as a whole; Mr. Cameron approaches it as an excited, child-like person who can't grow up. He loves science fiction and the works each filmmaker is releasing. You can sense it flying off the page most in his Ridley Scott interview. This book could've been excessively boring, and the show also, were it initiated by someone whose dream is writing articles. To really have a good book about film, you have to live and dream in film.

• The filmmakers interviewed are so cool. Each person is very different and shares the same values: dreaming big in the sci-fi genre. Quite often, people interviewed for books are all pretty much the same person cloned. Here, you get different personalities. One goofy person, a shy one, a child-like one, all of these beautiful personalities.

• Seeing the amazing images! All of the behind the scenes, movie posters, and clippings from the AMC limited run series are included. Check this one out. I'll share one!

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• My personal belief is any moment in time you can be around the scene of whatever industry you want to be in, you grow from it. The magic rubs off on you. As someone who wants to continue forever doing film and music, and the crossover blend of film music composing, I cannot begin to tell people the number of times I've been inspired by being around any of it. Going to a party, red carpet, awards show, anything I could as a teen or twentysomething, or now if even. Me watching people do dress rehearsals before the real deal and seeing my peers were just like you or me, these young people, who turned themselves into superstars at the big concerts, events, or awards shows. I loved seeing Beyoncé before, looking like any everyday pretty girl you could meet at a Starbucks, and how she transformed into the woman with full on stage makeup and clothing. Beyoncé because of that to me today isn't "Queen Bey," she's a girl like me or any friends I used to have my age who happens to be a mega-watt famous R&B goddess on the side. Fergie turning into Cinderella. Actresses I saw in magazines who, up close in person when you sit by them or see them around, looked like girls I could've met at my own school back in the day but with glowing makeup and dressier gowns.

When you see people around you doing big things who happen to be your age from the time you're 14, 15, you lose that whole train of thought people have in America that actors and all of these people are out of reach. They're just kids doing big things, or young adults like you or I once were or possibly are. You see that boy may be so-and-so, but in all actuality, he's a silly teen with a bit of snobbery like that jock guy everyone at your school thinks is hot.

Me having a copy of this book beyond simply viewing the AMC show has that effect on me. Any time I have a movie on repeat with scenes as inspiration to me, or books like this, I feel like I am one step closer to being the final version of who I want to be. It's magical. Becoming who you want to be is a daily process. I could be sitting here having directed a Star Wars film and feel today like I have yet to become the person I wish to be entirely because my goal is to be like a Yoda level filmmaking "force" master teaching tomorrow's new crop of filmmakers. You don't become that way until you get really established.

 

Highlights

I'm going to pull things from each chapter and leave some untold so you get a copy of the book yourself.

Foreword by James Cameron

• Mr. Cameron has a lifelong love of sci-fi.

• He feels sci-fi takes on a deeper meaning than aliens and monsters. We can envision our society's solutions to problems, or discuss problems overall, through the fictional element and imaginative "what if?" questioning.

Science fiction is a way for us to both dream about the promise of the future and exorcise the demons of our present angst. In these uncertain times, rife with fear of nuclear war, social unrest, and ecological disaster, science fiction allows us to explore our greatest hopes and fears for the future. It also allows us to address our uneasy relationship with humanity’s technological prowess, along with our growing under-standing of the universe and our possibly insignificant place in it. Science fiction is our way of dealing with these fears.
— James Cameron

• Mr. Cameron lists out his top favorite sci-fi films and movies.

Preface by Randall Frakes

• Mr. Frakes met James Cameron, whom he refers to as "Jim," during college.

• I'm jealous Mr. Cameron has pals from college. His friend seems so nice. Maybe I should've gone to a smaller college to make friends like Randall Frakes. All I met were sorority girls who were into studying and girly stuff, people who studied 24/7 period, and frat boys. As someone who would have gladly joined a relaxed-fun-party-never-study frat house but was not allowed into a frat house because I'm not a guy, and didn't fit in with the girly girls, as well as felt allergic to studying, finding a clique was obviously not doable for me.

• He tells us how awesome Mr. Cameron is, which all of us pretty much know.

James Cameron Interview by Randall Frakes

• Reading and watching sci-fi genre films like mad inspired him. He loved Lost in Space "until it got silly."

• Sci-fi is terrible at predicting the future. We hear a lot about his, and others' agreement, on that throughout the book.

• He does feel we should listen to what filmmakers are saying in sci-fi works so as not to have our culture/world wind up like the film settings.

• Star Wars in the 70's encouraged people who were not nerdy to fall in love with sci-fi.

• Mr. Cameron if he were a novelist would write more faith storylines interacting with scientific facts into his tales.

• Sci-fi advances humanity in equality.

There was a science fiction story—and I wish I could remember what it was—that I read as a kid that was basically about homosexuality. And the line I remember from the story is, “Love strikes like lightning.” And so, that is what Guillermo is saying, and that is why he has the main character’s best friend be gay, because that is what the story is about. The story is about—when someone is in love, they are in love. You don’t get to judge it.
— James Cameron

• He dips a little into sci-fi as political metaphor for current events. Oil. Other cultures. People who are unlike us. In my own opinion regarding this, I feel we can reach children and older youth discussing great topics due to science fiction who otherwise might be bored by TV news.

• Filmmakers should get the science data in science fiction accurate to make good sci-fi.

Alien Life by Gary K. Wolfe

• H.G. Wells helped pioneer the "scary monster" alien view seen in modern cinema.

• Aliens being very unlike us helps storytelling, often as a metaphor for whatever a filmmaker is trying to express, good or bad.

• Lots of info on the down to details historically for those who want to read all that. I'm not going to rehash all of it. This is done in a truly historical context.

Steven Spielberg

• #actualLOL People were getting high when he went to go watch 2001: A Space Odyssey because it was marketed as a space-y film, aka. drug fun, at the height of psychedelic drug-dom.

Mr. Spielberg soon clarifies, no, he really wasn't high when he watched it. He was a nice guy! Clean! No drugs or drinking! He simply loved the movie. Hahahaha.

Something about so much of what he says in this book makes me laugh! Not at him, with him. He's so full of stories here! Of all the people, it seems Mr. Spielberg let loose the most in these interviews and felt free to be himself. Of course, when you're at that stage in your career, you're probably able to be yourself.

VIP INTERMISSION! And, this realization is sad to me. SAD. That many people feel, or possibly can't, be themselves, starting out in their careers. Sidetracked, I know. Sorry. I need to bring this up for a minute because many of you reading could aspire to make movies, be in them, be models, actors, on TV as a journalist, writing for magazines, or somehow relevant in entertainment, and as someone who's been a NYC agency model, always all my life aspired to make sci-fi, action, and animated movies, mayba someday a western, who does funny voices in my own toons I'm making, all of that, I want you to know as young people, this VIP message.

DO NOT ABANDON WHO YOU ARE. People in the past have tried to pull me left and right pretending to be someone I'm not, or suggesting things like if I want to work somewhere, I need to change what I look like or dress like. Including for freelance magazine writer jobs back in the day where nobody sees what you look like; all the work is done via e-mail and on the phone! Crazy! So please know that like me, you could be stuck in the middle. The real me is not sexy, ugly, or super fashionable. I'm not someone who is anything super marketable in a temporary, flash in the pan, quick sell niche. 90 percent of the time, I don't want to wear something sexy or revealing just because I am super curvy. I don't want to wear such thick makeup that I look like I'm playing The Joker in some Batman remake. I want to roll out of the house in jeans, maybe if dressing it up, a nice black dress or denim skirt, and be myself, little to no makeup, contacts or glasses, pretty but not with a ton of effort. I hate that the only marketable views for young people, or people of any age who are not at the top of the career pyramid, seem to be "frumpy everyguy/everygirl," ugly, nerd, overtly sexy, or whatever happens to be some character you stick yourself into and have no soul. And I want you to know, that if you stick with me and all of us wind up making sci-fi movies, or things that defy what culture says men and women should be like and our future generations, then all of this is marketable. Being yourself WILL BE a selling point. We won't have any more people starving down to wear clothes that look stupid anyway, or cutting themselves out head to toe to fit some unrealistic ideals. I mean, plastic surgery, changing your personality, all of that, in small instances something like a nose job for a young man if that's all he does and it makes him feel better forever, or a girl like me butt kicking herself at a young age to be outgoing and now she finally is half the time, that's good. But in excess like society tells us? NO! Don't! Please don't!

And believe every word. I have had good experiences with plastic surgery. I mean all of this. Good, caused by bad. I've had not a nose job but have had to get a...haha...Terminator bionic upper lip. Almost my entire upper lip is a plastic, Cupid's bow thing slightly bigger than my original lip, looking like my original lip as the most ironic part of all of this. Years of my life scraping out scar tissue and then sampling fake upper lip shapes, so forth. All because my 18 year old self in 2006 decided, let's get lip fillers. My upper lip looks thin. If only I did that, maybe I'd look prettier. And for what? That's the sort of thing I want you to ask yourself. Because if I had to compare this to sci-fi as we are reviewing a sci-fi book after all, I compare to The Twilight Zone episode, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You." About a girl who upon ending her teen years, possibly college age, has to select a new face out of a catalogue of pre-set faces. This was long before 2018 created fakery everywhere and people all wanting to resemble their favorite reality TV stars. I have to disagree with Mr. Cameron that sci-fi doesn't predict the future because The Twilight Zone depicted exactly what goes on right now. Only in 2018, it's worse than me in 2006 deciding I'd be pretty if I got lip fillers and wound up with an infection, likely due to diabetes not tolerating the material. It's probably only going to get worse on out from here for our future young people. And you know how you can resolve that? Start creating amazing sci-fi works! Talk about this kind of stuff in your movies, everyone who is not yet famous but will be! END OF VIP TOPIC TALK :)

• He couldn't see the lighting as Stanley Kubrick intended it because the marijuana smoke dulled it. Wow, that must have been one fun crowd to watch–as much as the film itself! As he recalls, one man walked into the screen while high!

• His dad set the sci-fi obsession in stone by teaching Mr. Spielberg as a youth about space and science.

• Shoutout to my favs, Grimms Fairy Tales! Wow, am I obsessed with fairy tales! Mr. Spielberg clarifies a reasoning for my obsession as he calls them the first science fiction stories as well as our first cautionary tales.

• He thinks A.I. had it been directed by Stanley Kubrick would have not had Haley Joel Osment but a CGI boy. Hmmm.... that wouldn't have been as cool. I liked seeing HJO play a human-like boy because it made the storyline more authentic when those hated him for essentially replacing humans.

• Mr. Spielberg loves handwritten notes, picking up the phone, hearing a human voice, having a human's touch in a conversation, anything long lost in today's age.

• #LOLagainforrealoutloud Stanley Kubrick sent Mr. Spielberg faxes in the middle of the night during story idea time for what would become A.I. until his wife said the fax machine shouldn't be in a person's bedroom, contrary to Mr. Kubrick's advice. I guess I LOL'd because it wasn't me! Ugggghhhhhh! Yeah, have to agree with the lovely Kate Capshaw here. Ain't no fax machine going in my bedroom, if I may speak Chicagoan for a second. Or New Yorker. That could also be very NYC. Haha.

• Mr. Cameron wanted his hands on Jurassic Park. Too late! Some other person bought the rights first! Someone, the name seems familiar. Hmmm. Oh yeah! Some Steven person.

• Jurassic Park per Mr. Cameron's vision was going to be a hard R, big, scary movie. I'm so glad it wasn't. Can I say that? Sorry. I'm sorry. Dinos belong in children's tales. :D Hate me if you will, I'm glad Mr. Cameron never did his thing with Jurassic Park. Children don't get enough movies where they can play the people in them, you know? Although I definitely always wanted to be Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Still do. Sort of. Although I'm not sure how much I will feel the same way if faced with actual aliens in outer space. I may chicken out–don't take my word too seriously, aliens.

• Mr. Cameron interjects his opinion throughout the book. OK, I'd take that as opposed to a stoic journalistic viewpoint! Here, he says he hates when people reference other films. Major disagreement, Mr. Cameron. I love it when a filmmaker uses a "hey, audience, recognize this reference?" inside joke.

• Mr. Spielberg believes in aliens. See this quote. And, apparently, he's a lot braver than I am about the whole meeting aliens thing.

I believe that there are advanced civilizations of biological organisms of probably vast inferiority to us and vast superiority to us out there somewhere in all the combined universes, all the combined galaxies. I wanted to believe. I felt I earned the right to see a UFO. I made E.T. I made Close Encounters. I kept waiting for a sighting. I never had a sighting. I’ve met hundreds of people who have.
— Steven Spielberg

Outer Space by Brooks Peck from the Museum of Pop Culture

• A Trip to the Moon was a landmark film because, space! Everyone wonders about space!

• A great filmmaker, Nicole Russin-McFarland, who animates her own films included A Trip to the Moon in her short work now on Amazon Prime, Pizza Delivery. Oh wait. That's not in the book about me. Well, it should be.

• Disney's unloved John Carter film, which I happen to love to tears and lost my DVR copy of during a thunderstorm outage so I should get one at once on iTunes, is amazing. Go watch the film and read the book.

Among the writers inspired by the Red Planet, the most prominent and prolific was Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose novel A Princess of Mars (1912) is a swashbuckling yarn about John Carter, a former soldier magically transported to Mars. Carter encounters four-armed Martians, parched deserts, Schiaparelli’s canals, and the princess of the title, Dejah Thoris. For Burroughs, like Kepler, the method of getting to and from other worlds wasn’t important. The point of going to space wasto go someplace hitherto unknown, and showcase the wonders found there.
— Brooks Peck

• Preaching to the choir, so to speak, about Star Trek and other big deal sci-fi in pop culture. Like, seriously, if you aren't into all of that prior to this book, you probably shouldn't be picking up this book. You should go read something like Lauren Conrad Style and call it a day. Text your gal pals and talk about how boring this sci-fi book was because it didn't have hairstyle tutorials.

NOTE: Said as a person obsessed with doing my own hair, who loves hair tutorials and sci-fi. No hate on hair tutorials. But you know, it's really bad for your brain to ONLY pay attention to beauty and not embellish your brain cells with other topics.

George Lucas

• Mr. Lucas was going to get an anthropology degree?!?! Wait, what!?!?!? You mean all this time, I shouldn't feel bad about wasting time studying a major I wasn't all that into? There's hope? A New Hope? Sorry, humor.... #dorky

• Star Wars invokes mythology–and 1960's culture.

• 2001 is probably worshipped by all throughout the book from the beginning to the end. I should probably go re-watch it.

• Art connects people. If not, it's not art.

Yeah, I’m a very strong believer that art is in the eye of the beholder. But I’m also a very strong believer in the fact that art is an emotional communication. And if you can’t communicate emotionally, it’s not art. The concept that if it’s popular, it’s not art, and if it’s art, it’s not popular is not right at all. That’s just completely bogus. If you’re able to appeal emotionally to millions of people, that’s a wonderful thing.
— George Lucas

• Good sci-fi is an accumulation of all the ideas and life experiences you have. You don't get them all in your head at once. They develop slowly as the story unfolds itself in your head.

• When he was doing The Phantom Menace, he helped Peter Jackson on FX for LOTR.

• Deep conversation about aliens and their metaphors to us. The meanings of life. I cannot get into this and summarize it too well without destroying Mr. Lucas' poetic thoughts. Story of Science Fiction is one heavy, thought provoking book. You can't really read it in one sitting like, "Hey! Oh, let's brush my teeth." This is a deeper book than most might give it credit for.

Time Travel by Lisa Yaszek

• How troubling is it you don't get to e a female name until this part of the book? Said as the person who believes "I don't want to be hired for the fact I'm female; inclusion riders are often sooooo anti-feminist despite trying to be feminist!" I mean it, it sucks that up to now in the book, you don't see any inklings of a female filmmaker who makes non-chick-sci-fi or a woman writing a piece. My opinion for a second. Don't think because those girls like dressing up at Comic Con for Instagram photo likes that everyone LOOOOOooooovoessss-loves sci-fi. I "get" sci-fi, true sci-fi, for female audiences is a hard sell. Let's change that. Make a movie like Alien where the lead happens to be female and not a PR tool for marketing, "A woman is in this movie! She is a woman in space! WOMAN!" and the film sucks. Moving along.

• This has to be the best written piece in the entire book. Wow, wow, wow. I can't rehash it. You have to read it. I wish this were in a magazine like Cosmo so girls could get excited about sci-fi.

• Shoutout! My fav book, one of them, The Time Machine, finally gets recognition. I would've put it on page one!

• Wow, did she seriously a second ago shout out The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask?!?! YES! I have that game!!!! And a newer copy on my portable Nintendo thing-y! The new Game Boy but it's not called a Game Boy, right!?! And I owned the Nintendo 64 copy once upon a time! Yes!

• This phrase is beautiful and sums up the essay better than my ranting.

Like their literary and on-screen counterparts, such games insist that time travelers might cross unthinkable distances of time and space, but what they really discover are themselves, their capabilities, and their rightful place in history. In this way, the impossible scenario of time travel continues to inspire the most human science fiction of all.
— Lisa Yaszek

Christopher Nolan

• Interstellar used footage of real elderly talking about the dust bowl cut into the scripted work. Never knew!

• He loves 2001. A lot. I mean, by a lot, beyond your standard filmmaker love of it, as in he probably sleeps with a copy under his pillow and has a 2001 buzzcut tattoo hidden under his hair. It's fine; I stan Gladiator.

Interstellar was written for Mr. Spielberg. When he took over, the storytelling changed. How cool would it be to see both versions of the film come out at the same weekend, and you going from one to another? I'd live for being able to do that with any film. Two takes on the same material!

• Big talk on time travels as a storyline and time in general.

• A lot on 2001. Again. Not a surprise from the gentleman who vowed to protect its original theatrical release, he who re-released the film strip version for select theaters sometime when he released Dunkirk on film. Nice.

People very often ask me why am I interested in time. I say, well, because I’ve always lived in it. We feel very trapped in it. And we genuinely do, it’s not a philosophical abstract conceit. We try to hang on to the moment. We take photographs of everything. We desperately want to hang on to this reality, and it recedes.
— Christopher Nolan

• He wanted people to live out his storytelling in the present. Nothing too crazy with costuming or anything else. A neat take when you think how everything is done to look sci-fi in most sci-fi flicks.

You see it go through these cycles. In the ’50s into the early ’60s, the threat of nuclear annihilation manifests itself in all these B–monster movies and the threat of Communism manifests itself in these sort of body takeover infiltration–type movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’m fascinated by the way that science fiction is always manifesting our angst, our dreams, and our nightmares.
— Christopher Nolan

Monsters by Matt Singer

• Monsters! Half of monster movies are reality.

Science run amok lies at the heart of most classic monster movies; the only variables are the kinds of monsters and the specific scientific terrors they represent. In fact, charting the entire history of the monster movie subgenre would give you a pretty good sense of mankind’s greatest technological concerns throughout the twentieth century. Viewed as a whole, the canon of monster movies is like an enormous documentary on the evolution of our society’s worst fears.
— Matt Singer

• Facts on behind the scenes on some monster and dino flicks. This article isn't as long as some others but interesting all the same.

Guillermo Del Toro

• He saw a UFO!?!?! How did I not know this until I read the book?!?!?! He and a pal in school communicated with the UFO by flashing their car lights and freaked out when it followed them! Hopefully, it was a food truck and not a UFO! Oh my goodness! That is scary!!!!! I don't know what I would do. Probably cry actual tears and hide in the backseat begging A) my friend to drive away ASAP and B) the UFO people not to eat me and dissect me! He himself says he freaked out! Finally, because do you see all those people on TV acting like they casually saw a UFO? "I saw it one day I checked on the corn crops." Like it's so normal. I saw a UFO and returned home for my spinach salad. Mr. Del Toro, or I guess I should say, Señor Del Toro, vio a los extraterrestres. Es la verdad. Y estoy feliz que no he visto ningunos UFOs. Or OVNIs. I mean, I think OVNI is UFO en español. I need to consult the dictionary because UFOs aren't typically something I've had to address people about en español.

• He mentions works blending sci-fi and horror that inspired him in his younger days. And his theory on vampires in stories.

Vampirism, its origins are in every culture. You have Greek vampires, Eastern-European vampires, Japanese, Filipino. Everything across the board for whatever reason. I have my own theory, but this is a myth like the dragon that exists in every culture. My theory is that at some point we were cannibalistic as apes. And the horror of eating each other needed a myth to explain it. I think werewolves and vampires came out of that need to crystallize that past urge or present urge.
— Guillermo Del Toro

• He screamed watching Alien. When I watched the Alien series as a youth in theaters, I covered my eyes when the aliens would pop out in little steps like this one...and watch between my fingers. He took it a bit further, hiding under his chair. Later on, I had nothing to be afraid of, because my natural teeth before orthodontic work wound up looking like that. Post-braces and some teeth moving back, my teeth only now on the lower sort of look like that.

Not only do I scream—there’s that figure of speech, hide under your seat? It was not a figure of speech. I literally went under my seat, and I said to my dad, “Tap me on the shoulder when it’s over.
— Guillermo Del Toro
alien mouth.jpg

• He relates to Frankenstein, comparing the character to his own autobiography.

Dark Futures by Matt Singer

• Chatting Mad MaxRoboCopThe Matrix, and others.

• A lot on The Matrix. This section may be useful for younger film fans, like ages 8-12. Anyone else pretty much knows this forwards and backwards. Nonetheless, Mr. Singer is an amazing writer. I'd read a menu six times if he wrote the hamburger descriptives.

Ridley Scott

• "Baby, this is what you came for! Lightning, strikes every time he moves." OK, I quoted a Rihanna song. Mr. Scott doesn't say that. I'm stating how I feel, and clearly, how Mr. Cameron feels interviewing him. I stan Gladiator. All of his work, but Gladiator so much. YEAH! I MADE IT TO HIS INTERVIEW! Mr. Cameron states it better than I could.

I always said when I grew up, I wanted to be you. Even today, I say when I grow up I want to be you. I want to keep that energy and that passion for movies.
— James Cameron on Ridley Scott

No understatement. Were I to wake up as Ridley Scott tomorrow, it might feel a little weird because I'm used to my own life–no complaints though. I'm not saying I wish I were him or any of the cool guys in the book, although it's definitely like that to me. If I awoke as Chris Nolan, Ridley Scott, James Cameron....it would be a pretty good day. Nothing bad. Whereas I don't feel I would be OK if I were to awake as any actress or female filmmaker I'm aware of at the moment. I'd want my old life back. If I were RIdley Scott in the weirdest ever remake of Freaky Friday, I'd probably say, "Yeah, it kind of feels weird having to go to a men's restroom, but beyond that, you're free to keep my old life and have fun trying on girls' clothes in my old body,  My old body is pretty awesome, don't get me wrong. Take care of it, and wear some awesome skirts! Aside from that, Ridley. I'll settle for this, pending you can find a way to extend my life being I was 31 years old, and now I'm an older dude." Hahahaha.

James Cameron talks nonstop here in this interview. Some passages are paragraphs long as Mr. Scott gets one sentence in. And, for journalists doing journalism, that may not fly well. For me, I love seeing the passion he has for his films and that we get excited as we take the journey with him. No shame in it, Mr. Cameron!

• Mr. Cameron gets technical, asking stuff like if some characters needed air. Fanboying hard, isn't he? Of course, surely you are a bit, or you wouldn't be reading this book review and wouldn't buy the book.

• What!? Did Mr. Scott say Avatar influenced him?!? He's now fanboying Mr. Cameron? Interesting!

My advice to any directors [is to] make the person [you’re working with] your friend and partner. My first film was done with my brother for sixty-five pounds. That would be Tony Scott.
— Ridley Scott

• Less is more. Definitely agree on this one. And, hide that creepy alien person for later in your movie!

Films have been ruined by showing the beast.
— Ridley Scott

• Ripley being a female, not male, lead was a passing decision. A no biggie thing. The way I like it. When you write a character because she is a woman, all things go wrong. Writing a character and changing the gender is perfect!

[I think it was then–Twentieth Century Fox president, Alan Ladd Jr.] He’d say, “What happens if Ripley’s a gal?” There was silence, and I said, “No problem with that.” I hadn’t realized the importance of women’s lib and how women aren’t really included because I was brought up with a very strong mother. So I had already accepted that women will rule eventually anyway, whatever we do about it. So I said “Why not?” To give Ripley the punch and power was the right thing to do.
— Ridley Scott

• More in detail on Mr. Scott's career achievements. Long, yet worth the read.

Intelligent Machines by Sidney Perkowitz

• Robots started as slaves in sci-fi; nowadays, filmmakers depict them overtaking the world! Another short but sweet piece.

Why this fascination with watching artificial versions of our minds and bodies? Maybe we want to see technology pushed to the point where we can feel like gods, with the power to design and create living or semi-living beings. Behind that may be a secret human longing: If we can do that, maybe someday we will know how to improve ourselves. Or maybe it’s the desire to see our-selves on-screen, but indirectly, through our own creations. That gives us a vantage point from which to honestly contemplate our human sins and virtues. But our goals may not be that lofty. We might just like imagining a world where mechanical servants do the things we’d rather not do ourselves or wait on us with inhuman perfection.
— Sidney Perkowitz

Arnold Schwarzenegger

• Mr. Cameron and the govah-nat-ah begin discussing technical points of their collaborations.

• Mr. Schwarzenegger, like Mr. Nolan, digs Westworld.

• More on The Terminator, in detail, for Terminator hardcore fans. Nearly the whole rest of the interview is focused on that.

You know what was in Terminator. The machines today have pretty much done all of the things that we see in the movie except become self-aware. I’m not an expert with machines, so I have no idea. But we would not have thought thirty years ago that all this stuff would be possible that we have seen now coming out.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger

Afterword by Brooks Peck

• I have never heard a lick about the Museum of Pop Culture. When I read this quote, it blew me away. What if some of their items actually become real? Interesting!!!!!!

So, unlike traditional museums that display historical artifacts, we display future artifacts: proton packs, hoverboards, starships, and alien insects, among many others. Although these items don’t come from a real future, they do come from possible futures.
— Brooks Peck

The afterword is pretty short. In a book where all your brain does is think in every direction it can walk and run, the afterword leaves you haunted like, "This is it? I read all of this today, and this is it? We wrap up the book in a short question mark?"

Although, when I thought about it, a question mark thought is the way to go. Science fiction is about wondering. If we know all the answers, we wouldn't be making these stories come true as fans of them or the people directing them.

 

I do recommend everyone who is interested in filmmaking, and those who are not also, get a copy of the book, the show, or both, and learn all you can about the sci-fi genre through the directors interviewed for the book. You will laugh and learn on the journey!

xoxo, Nic

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