Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Time Travel and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction in If You Like the Terminator...: A Book Review

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*full disclosure: a review copy of this book was provided by Limelight Editions.

Author: Scott Von Doviak.

Limelight Editions released a fun trivia book to the masses with If You Like The Terminator... This title released May 1st and author Scott Von Doviak introduces film fans to a host of science fiction facts and informative tidbits with this 212 page read. "Chapters 2: Do Not Attempt to Adjust the Picture: The Outer Limits," "Chapter 4: No Fate But What We Make: Time Travel" and "Chapter 5: Hasta La Vista Baby: Post-apocalyptic Cinema" are the standouts in the book. Each chapter explains specific influences related to James Cameron's 1984 film, The Terminator.

In Chapter 2, Doviak lists some of the television influences in Cameron's breakout film. Cameron admits to borrowing from two episodes of 1963's "The Outer Limits." This was a strange science fiction show that displayed stories of time travel and humans enslaved by aliens one time per week. Apparently, Cameron was most influenced by Harlan Ellison's episodes titled: "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand." Both episodes helped Cameron create his opening time travelling scenes while also opening up the possibility of lawsuits. Cameron made many more nods to other filmmakers and writers and there is a depth of history in this chapter.

Chapter 4 also offers interesting tidbits. This chapter chronicles time travel in film and television. One of the most prominent film series, Planet of the Apes, is given special attention. And, it is curious to read of time streams, paradoxes and circular narratives. Doviak points out how writers can paint themselves into a corner when their stories involve too much travelling back and forth across time. Yet, film fans still find these plotlines fascinating as seen in the recent reboot of this series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).

This film fan's favourite chapter was found in the middle of the book. Chapter 5 looks at the post-apocalyptic film genre. There are many films to be found here and thankfully, Doviak gives a nod to one of the most famous films in this genre, The Road Warrior. It is interesting to note how few lines Mel Gibson had in this picture. And, The Road Warrior would begin a new style of "Ozploitation" films, which are still prominent today. There are also references to The Omega Man, Soylent Green and many others. The threat of nuclear annihilation has influenced these films and the Terminator series as well.

If You Like the Terminator... is a light read with many insightful facts. There is a lot of background here for fans of the original Terminator film and the series in general. Though, Doviak keeps the writing at a fairly shallow level. This printing is likely targeted to a young readership and the book is much like an introduction to the sci-fi genre at large. Film afficionados might have knowledge of many of the tips found in this read.

Thus, this book is for film fans who are looking to expand their basic knowledge of film. Genres targeted are both science fiction and post-apocalyptic cinema. Doviak has created a well written book here and this reviewer would recommend If You Like the Terminator... to burgeoning fans of cinema. Others will still likely find a few lines of interest here.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (many films mentioned, controversies surrounding the Terminator films are covered, a light read).

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