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Book Review

Book Cover

Fantastic TV
50 Years of Cult Fantasy and Science Fiction


Author: Steven Savile
RRP: £14.99, US $19.95
ISBN: 978 0 85965 420 3
Available 03 May 2010

Science fiction and fantasy has been around on television longer than the majority of this reviews readers, with a rich history of highs and lows.

Fantastic TV: 50 Years of Cult Fantasy and Science Fiction is a personal journey by the author Steven Savile. I know that most people skip over the introduction to books but in this case the introduction is obligatory if you are to understand Savile’s choice of shows to cover. This is not a history of Science Fiction and Fantasy, nor is it an in-depth examination of the genre; there is no attempt to place the shows in their socio-political context.

Savile, in the introduction, states that the idea for the book came out of a conversation where he contended that much of the best science fiction was being written for the small screen. I can imagine that there are many who would feel that this is far from the truth.

Even so, Savile has put his money where his mouth is and come up with a list, which he feels proves the point and this is the most disappointing part of the book. I was hoping for some analysis of the shows, especially from a writing perspective, but most of the sections after some admittedly interesting snippets about the shows, including reminiscences of those who worked on them, never really get round to address the central contention that good science fiction had moved to television.

Okay, so this all sounds a bit negative and it isn’t really, taken on its own merits this is a good example of a starter book. What I mean by that is that there is enough information to hopefully pique your interest in the individual shows, enough to actually watch them and maybe want to find out more about the shows, the history of science fiction and the importance of the genre as an art form.

The book is well written, with a reasonable number of black and white pictures, no colour plates unfortunately. Savile covers a nice range of shows but, as he admits, this is a personal list, so many of the shows which others may have decided were important may not be included.

Savile may have set out to prove the superiority of television writing and in this regard I feel that he has failed, however as a short introduction to the shows which he has enjoyed over the years, the book is a resounding success.


Charles Packer

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