the net guide for creative
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
Science Fiction Cinema: From Outer Space To Cyberspace
by Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska
Wallflower Press paperback, 128 pages £11.99
review by Steven Hampton
A useful introduction to serious business of film/cultural studies, King and Krzywinska's
slim volume is a concise but thoughtful look at the main issues, including exploration
and innovation, that SF and therefore SF cinema is concerned with. Because the cinema
and science fiction were 'born' at more or less the same time, it's only fitting that a
century later, as the auhtors point out, their histories and development are closely
interlinked, and SF has long since become the most popular genre in the cinema.
From Buck Rogers and Barbarella to Johnny Mnemonic and
Tank Girl, SF cinema has centred on a variety of human figures, despite certain
critics asserting the genre relies too heavily on awesome spectacle and the magical
technology of visual effects. This book identifies the core themes and tropes of SF as
presented in the cinema, and notes their relationship to modernity and change in the
real world. An important point is made here about the way in which SF, and the cinema,
may be viewed as a testbed for the future, trying concepts on for size in the safety of
an entertainment medium. Not in order to predict the future (as some mistakenly say SF
tries to do), but to show us what may happen - so that we can, perhaps, as in the case
of a dystopia, avoid it.
Although this book-length essay is focused almost entirely on Hollywood's
productions, with a chapter on Star Wars Episode i: The Phantom Menace forming a
case study, there are mentions of and references to European and Russian works of high
standing, so that the American industry's wholly dominant position is seen in context
of other cultures' contribution to the field.
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