Insight Editions has published a hardback book titled James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction available from numerous online retailers and high street book stores. The book is based upon James Cameron’s six-part TV series of the same name broadcasted on AMC as part of the AMC Visionaries 2018 season of documentaries from some of the very best artists within their respective fields such as Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics and Eli Roth’s History of Horror. Can James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction book deliver an interesting companion that is equally as intriguing as the TV series?

James Cameron is especially known for telling epic tales of futuristic science fiction including Aliens, Avatar, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Abyss, alongside his films with his most prolific collaborator Arnold Schwarzenegger that also extended beyond Terminator 1 and 2 to the superb action film True Lies. James Cameron’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films have received many videogame adaptations such as the Terminator franchise having received a bunch of first-person shooters and side-scrolling platformers in the early 1990s based upon the original film on Amiga, DOS, Game Boy, NES, SEGA Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive and SNES with the highlights being a range of first-person shooters developed for DOS by Bethesda including The Terminator, The Terminator 2029, The Terminator: Rampage, The Terminator: Future Shock and Skynet. Terminator 2: Judgement Day had an even wider range of games and ports such as Midway’s first-person shooter T2: The Arcade Game that released in arcades before being ported to home platforms, while separate Terminator 2 games were released including an action adventure, beat ‘em up, platformer and shooter in one and an action adventure game released on Game Boy. Ocean Software published an action game with additional genres in which levels were from side-scrolling and top-down perspectives for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum. A 16-bit action adventure game was released on SEGA Mega Drive and SNES, while a chess adaptation titled Terminator 2 subtitled Chess Wars was released on DOS and a pinball tie-in was designed by Steve Ritchie and published by Williams Electronics for Terminator 2 with Stern Pinball manufacturing a similar pinball table for Terminator 3.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had direct tie-in games such as a PS2, Xbox and Game Boy Advance game of the same title and Terminator 3: The Redemption on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, while there was also a PC exclusive titled Terminator 3: War of the Machines that were all published by Atari. Terminator Salvation had a third-person action adventure on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC that had such promise but was rushed in order to be released in co-ordination with the film and a full motion capture of Christian Bale as John Connor had to be removed prior to release due to not having permission to use his likeness, while there was also a separate arcade lightgun game. Terminator games have also had games that did not follow the storyline of a particular film in the franchise such as Terminator: Dawn of Fate on PS2 and Xbox, alongside the very popular RoboCop Versus Terminator on SEGA Mega Drive, Game Gear, Master System, SNES and Game Boy. Unfortunately, there have not been any Terminator games on home consoles for a decade since Terminator Salvation with only mobile game tie-ins for Terminator Genesys. Hopefully future Terminator films fair better with their videogame adaptations reaching home consoles.

Elsewhere, True Lies directed by James Cameron starring Arnold Schwarzenegger received a videogame adaptation on SEGA Mega Drive, SNES, Game Gear and Game Boy. Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger films such as Last Action Hero, Predator and Total Recall had multi-platform videogame adaptations. One of the most interesting videogame adaptations was actually based on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in the form of a big budget PC exclusive point and click adventure developed by Westwood Studios and released in 1997. Steven Spielberg’s films including E.T. Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Minority Report and more have also been adapted into videogame, while George Lucas’ Star Wars is one of the most videogame adapted film franchises of all time, alongside Ridley Scott’s and James Cameron’s shared Alien film franchise that has also had numerous videogame adaptations.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction is in experienced hands as it is written by James Cameron, Randall Frakes, Brooks Peck, Sidney Perkowitz, Matt Singer, Gary K. Wolfe and Lisa Yaszek. Randall Frakes has written book serialisations of Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and an illustrated screenplay of Titanic, while Brooks Peck is the curator at the Museum of Pop Culture. Sidney Perkowitz is a scientist and an author having written over 100 papers and books that cuts through the technical terminology to make science more understandable for those who are not professionally educated in the matter including Frankenstein: How a Monster Became an Icon, Physics: A Very Short Introduction, Hollywood Chemistry, Slow Light, Hollywood Science, Digital People, Universal Foam and Empire of Light. Matt Singer is the editor-in-chief and film critic for ScreenCrush, while Gary K. Wolfe is a Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University and an author of many books and essays including Evaporating Genres discussing how science fiction, fantasy and horror collectively evolve into a new dynamic form, alongside writing reviews for Locus Magazine. Lisa Yaszek is associate professor in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture where she is the Director of the Science, Technology and Culture degree program; curator of the Bud Foote Science Fiction Collection at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of such books as Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction and editor of 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction has significant contributions from some of the biggest names in science fiction films beginning immediately with a foreword written by James Cameron providing an insight into the science fiction films and literature that inspired him, while also depicting what he believes to be the purpose of science fiction with a stark warning of where the endless improvement of technology could eventually lead followed by a list of James Cameron’s top 25 favourite works of science fiction between films and books. A preface written by Randall Frakes discusses the first time he met James Cameron, how James Cameron would infuse influences from the real everyday world into his stories and the fact that creating science fiction stories enabled him to create amazing technology of his own in the world of practical real world designs and computer generated special effects.

Extensive interviews commence on page 18 with an image of James Cameron leading into a James Cameron interview conducted by Randall Frakes until page 49. James Cameron discusses more about his influences in both film and literature, when he found time to read, what TV and films he would be watching to fuel his creativity before switching on a dime to delve into the creative process and message of his own films, alongside his thoughts on such topics as the constant elevation of artificial intelligence and robotics.

The second interview is the first of half a dozen interviews conducted by James Cameron as Steven Spielberg features from page 58 until page 83 as he discusses his inspirations, how he conceptualised such groundbreaking films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, Ready Player One and more besides and such topics as what he thinks about the possibilities of time travel.

The third interview sees George Lucas talking about Star Wars, science fiction, anthropology and mythology in an enthralling read for every Star Wars fan from page 90 through page 119. Next up, from page 126 until page 149 is a more modern day film director in the form of Christopher Nolan; prolific in continuous film making from his debut titled Following in 1998 through Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Interstellar discussing his first memories of cinematic science fiction and how his team went about creating a realistic depiction of a black hole in Interstellar.

The fifth interview spans from page 158 through page 175 as Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos, Mimic, Pacific Rim and The Shape of Water) discusses with James Cameron about the contrast between horror, science fiction and fantasy, his admiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the 1931 film adaptation and his frightening UFO encounter. The sixth interview is with yet another legendary director and storyteller Ridley Scott; responsible for some of the most incredible achievements in science fiction films including Alien and Blade Runner to name two of many with his most recent efforts involving The Martian starring Matt Damon and a return to the Alien franchise with Prometheus and Alien Covenant. Ridley Scott talks about A.I., creating the physicality and traits of aliens and the Tears in Rain monologue from Blade Runner in another excellent interview spanning page 182 to page 197.

The concluding interview is with none other than the Terminator himself; Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold and James discuss their lunch meeting when casting was taking place for The Terminator, the progression in robotics, artificial intelligence and technology in general in an amazing interview from page 204 through 221.

Each of the seven interviews are punctuated by guest writers providing in-depth essays covering major areas within science fiction films and literature including alien life by Gary K. Wolfe, outer space by Brooks Peck, time travel by Lisa Yaszek, monsters by Matt Singer, dark futures by Matt Singer and intelligent machines by Sidney Perkowitz. The book concludes with an afterword written by Brooks Peck in how he discusses how important science fiction really is and why it is held in such high regard at the Museum of Pop Culture of which Brooks Peck is a curator before posing the question of how advancements in technology has impacted people’s lives.

Quality of writing from the foreword through the in-depth interviews and incredible essays on a range of science fiction genres and topics is simply sensational and there is no surprise given the credentials and experienced knowledge of every writer involved.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction’s book adaptation is beautifully presented as every chapter and individual feature is complimented by concept artwork from James Cameron’s personal archives with some so rare that they have not been publicly available until this book. Concept artwork includes conceptualising classic moments from Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens’ power lifter technology all the way through to a drawing of a person in a spacesuit walking through an alien forest that became Avatar, despite having been drawn in 1970 and ideas from an unproduced film titled Xenogenesis that ultimately provided a foundation for numerous plot points in his films. Elsewhere, film posters such as Planet of the Apes, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey; book covers such as Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End; and film stills accompanying each interview including Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and his take on War of the Worlds; George Lucas’ THX 1138 and Star Wars; Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Inception; Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim; Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Prometheus; and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The 6th Day and Total Recall, alongside more film posters, book covers and film stills.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction’s ultimate value comes from gaining a rather intimate insight into each of half a dozen of the world’s most well known directors and the world’s most known sci-fi actor through their inspirations, experiences, conceptual and creative processes and much more besides. It is not just all text though as James Cameron’s wonderful conceptual artistry is showcased throughout the duration of the fantastically paced 224 pages, while film posters and book covers are displayed to emphasise the tone of each of the interviewee’s inspirations and film stills to depict their own creations in the science fiction genre too.

 

 

Analysis

  • Title: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction
  • Writers: James Cameron, Randall Frakes, Brooks Peck, Sidney Perkowitz, Matt Singer, Gary K. Wolfe and Lisa Yaszek
  • Contributions: James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, Ridley Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger through interviews
  • Publisher: Insight Editions
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Cover: Hardback

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble  and IndieBound, while you can also find Insight Editions’ official website including a back catalogue of captivating books and product details regarding James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction book.

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