coverThe title of the book caught my eye — “Science Fiction Television”. Immediately I wondered if it would mention a relatively short-lived TV series “Space: Above and Beyond” (I really liked that show and its concept). But surprisingly, and somewhat of a disappointment, the book didn’t mention the show. Otherwise, it seems very comprehensive. In fact, what surprised me was that I am aware of almost all the post-60s TV shows mentioned in the book (most have been aired in the Singapore broadcasting network).

In fact, you might want to check out the Index page of the book to get a sense of what shows it would cover.

Personal impressions of the book:

  • Readable and enlightening (I caught on more after the first few chapters, probably because I could relate to the shows that I’ve watched).
  • I suspect that those who’ve watched some of the shows would appreciate the book more. That’s not to say you wouldn’t appreciate the book if you’ve not watched any of the show).
  • Might be a good reference source if you’re researching into Science Fiction in Television (American and British).
  • It covers American and British SciFi television, with an emphasis on the former (well, I think Sci Fi stories and TV/ film has much of its origins from the US).
  • It’s Television, and not Film.
  • Star Trek gets mentioned alot because the series dominates Sci Fi Television.
  • Analyses and interprets the context and backdrop of the Sci Fi shows, e.g. how shows from certain era focused on how science would be used for good, while some (e.g. during the ’80s Cold War) reflected the Cold War tensions.
  • Reading the part about Lexx, ‘cos I remember watching the show but having missed some episodes, I didn’t really get the entire flow.

I found it useful in increasing my level of appreciation of Sci Fi television. I mean, it made me reflect back on the TV Sci Fi shows (e.g. Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek series, Babylon-5) and reminded me of shows that I’ve watched but forgotten (Lexx, X-files, Quantum Leap…) Aiyah! Why didn’t it cover “Above and Beyond”? No “Starship Troopers” (the animated series) either.

Chapters
1 – Early predecessors to The Twilight Zone: The birth of science fiction television
2 – From Doctor Who to Star Trek: Science fiction television comes of age
3 – Lean years to Star Trek: The Next Generation: Science fiction television is reborn
4 – The Golden Nineties: Science fiction television in an Age of Plenty
5 – Back to the Future: Science fiction television in the New Millennium

Photo essay from page 148.

Something related to “Libraries” – P10. Episode from The Twilight Zone, Nov 20 1959, “Time Enough At Last” – Mild-mannered, myopic banker Henry Bemis (played by Burgess Meredith) is alienated and tormented by his boss and wife. Neither understands his passion for reading (which is a form of escapism). He regularly locks himself in a bank vault to read in peace. One day, while in the vault, a nuclear attack destroys almost all of human civilisation. Bemis emerges unscathed and finds himself utterly alone. Eventually he contemplates suicide but then he discovers a public library with most books intact. He realised then he now had all the time in the world to read and has a newfound joy in rearranging the books and planning what to read in years to come. But then he drops and shatters his thick glasses. With no means to repair or get a replacement, he becomes helpless and all the books are worthless. (Author suggests that the point of the episode was that its not so easy to live without other people afterall. I think the writers of that particular episode just wanted to add a particularly ironic twist for an ending, one that would befit a loud Singlish retort, “Wah Lau Eh!”)

Book blurb says “M. Keith Booker is Professor of English at the University of Arkansas”.

Advertisements