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Book Review

Book Cover

100 Science Fiction Films


Author: Barry Keith Grant
Publisher: BFI Screen Guides
RRP: £16.99, US $20.00
ISBN: 978 1 84457 457 5
Publication Date: 21 June 2013

It’s always going to be problematic producing a book which covers the history of a particular filmic genre, let’s face it you’re never going to please everyone.

100 Science Fiction Films, by Barry Keith Grant, sets out to give a flavour of science fiction cinema from Georges Méliès, Le Voyage dans la Lume (1902) to Neill Blomkamp’s, District 9 (2009). With so many films to choose from, Grant has further restricted the choice, allowing only one film per director, which inevitably means a lot of films, important to an understanding of this genre, will be missing.

The defining of terms is also important, both in the literary and in the cinematic form. For this, Grant has decided to include films which both present spectacle as well as those which provide speculation. In some cases films have been able to provide both. This does mean that as well as the more seminal works of science fiction films like, Star Wars (1977) have been included. Although it’s a fine and well beloved film, it is very poor science fiction, if the term can be attributed to it at all.

So, what we have is a list of the author’s favourite films, rather than the 100 most influential science fiction films and there’s nothing wrong with this as a premise. The films presented are mostly plucked from American and English studios, though there are a number of other countries represented, both Russia and Japan, especially, have a strong tradition of science fiction films.

The book has a forward by the author defining how the films were chosen. The films are presented in alphabetical order, rather than chronological. Each film gets a picture, taking up anything from a quarter to three quarters of a page, as well as a mixture of colour and black and white prints. To the side of the first page is a greyed out area with the most pertinent details of cast and crew, including the original book the film was based on, if this is the case.

Each film gets two pages, which isn’t very much considering the space taken up by the picture. It’s just enough to say a little about the director, a brief synopsis of the plot and some interesting ancillary information. What the book lacks is any great depth when presenting individual films, but I don’t really think that this is the point of the book.

100 Science Fiction Films is a coffee book style enterprise, meant to be dipped into occasionally, rather than read cover to cover and in this respect it does a good job at introducing films you may not have heard of and reminding you of great films you may have forgotten.


Charles Packer

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