NONFICTION

The Geek's Guide to SF Cinema: 30 Key Films That Revolutionised the Genre

Little, Brown. May 2019. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781472139856. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9781472139863. FILM
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Lambie (deputy editor, denofgeek.com) highlights 30 pivotal films in this history of sf cinema spanning 1902–2010. The author devotes a chapter to each film, discussing its plot, production, and legacy. Although he relies on more recent research, he largely works within the established sf canon, and he's not saying anything new about, for instance, Forbidden Planet in only four pages. Where Lambie succeeds is in contextualizing a movie, demonstrating its importance by showing how it drew from previous works and inspired later ones. He is careful to point out this is a compilation of influential films, not a "best of" list—Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for example, is only mentioned. Lambie draws parallels between Frankenstein (1931) and RoboCop and illustrates how Godzilla (1954) launched a genre. He also displays a deep knowledge of his field, citing Soviet-era films, obscure silent titles, and plenty of direct-to-video efforts. The writing is playful and insightful, and each chapter ends with a list of view-alikes, which is sure to please genre buffs.
VERDICT A fascinating, focused book for sf followers.

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