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Book Review: Cinema Futura: Essays on Favourite Science Fiction Movies by Mark Morris

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Cinema Futura is a collection of essays edited by sci-fi author Mark Morris. The essays themselves (60 of them, each about 1000 words) come from several other sci-fi personalities. Some of the personalities will be recognisable to even the casual reader (Peter F. Hamilton wrote an essay on Aliens) while some will need to make themselves known by the contributor notes at the end.

It’s worth noting that a few of the essayists write for Doctor Who or Torchwood, such as Robert Shearman (who wrote Dalek from the new series, and wrote an essay on The Purple Rose Of Cairo) and Joseph Lidster, who wrote both an episode of Torchwood and contributed content to the tie-in fictional websites for Doctor Who and Sherlock

The 60 pieces are sorted into chronological order, from Metropolis in 1927 to Avatar in 2009. (If one was feeling snarky, one could say that it goes from a high to a low. But I’m not feeling snarky today.) I want to seek out more because I’ve seen exactly a fifth of the films, and it seems to be the more famous and obvious ones.

The introduction and the years the films were produced helps clarify a consensus that the 1940s was a horrible era for science fiction films due to other, more important events (such as the Second World War). Which is fair enough really. My favourite essay was the one on Star Wars, as it emphasised how much that film appeals to children and why (most kids want to be a Jedi Knight).

The essays themselves are written for the purpose of explaining why they are that contributor’s favourite science fiction film. So naturally, you have the obvious ones such as Star Wars, Metropolis and Blade Runner. However, some ones that you wouldn’t necessarily class as science fiction come up, such as Lord Of The Rings and V For Vendetta. The rationale behind these inclusions is explained in the introduction and in the essays themselves (in the case of Lord Of The Rings, it’s because fantasy as an adult genre didn’t exist when the books were first published, so critics called it science fiction).

My one complaint is that Cinema Futura is perhaps a tad obscure, and would have been worth a large print run in my opinion. For this reason I have included a link to the page where you can buy it from the site.

The essays make for interesting reading and shed some light on the films themselves and sometimes show you new ways of looking at them (the essayist for Blade Runner, for example, seems to dislike everything about the film except the ending). Cinema Futura will make you interested in checking out some of the films mentioned therein (one that I want to check out for this reason is Twelve Monkeys). If you can buy it though, I absolutely recommend doing so. Perfect for any sci-fi fans.

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About Scott Varnham

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    “My one complaint,” you write, “is that Cinema Futura is perhaps a tad obscure, and would have been worth a large print run in my opinion.”

    Say what? I’ve read your review twice, and cannot fathom that sentence.

    Are you saying that this book did not receive a large print run? If so, it would’ve been helpful to establish that fact before opining that it’s worth one.

    Moreover, are you saying that it’s worth a large print run because it’s “perhaps a tad obscure?” In what way does being “perhaps a tad obscure” justify having a large print run?

  • zingzing

    you aren’t really confused, are you alan?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Why are you following me from thread to thread?

  • zingzing

    i’m assigned to your tail by the secret police. shhh. don’t tell them i told you. they’re so mean.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    It’s no secret. Everyone knows you’re in the pocket of Christopher Rose. The question is: why? Isn’t it time you learned to think for yourself?

  • zingzing

    heh. oh, paranoia… a most self-reinforcing of delusions. why would i be in chris’ pocket? there’s no money in it. actually, there’s nothing at all in it. chris has explained time and again why you (and others) are getting edited. but you (and others) continue to do the same thing, then escalate your complaints to cries of soviet fascism and the like. you’re just hitting your head against a brick wall, and i’m sure chris is beginning to enjoy it. you’re your own worst enemy. i’d like to see this place be more of a free for all as well, but that’s just not going to happening, and possibly for good reason. unrestrained internet chat gets ridiculous, as i’m sure you know. if we want there to be any semblance of actual discussion around here, there’s a few rules we’ll have to put up with. just get over it, alan.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    any semblance of actual discussion around here

    Such as: “i’m assigned to your tail by the secret police. shhh. don’t tell them i told you. they’re so mean.”

    Right.

  • zingzing

    exactly. you asked. i told. even though i may be killed for it, i had to let you know by principle. for what is a man without principle?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    If you actually had any principles and were truly interested in discussion, you would’ve addressed the sentence by Scotty2 with which I led off my comment #1. Since you have improbably identified yourself on other BC threads as a professional writer (boasting, as I recall, about your many freelance articles on such discussion-worthy topics as pimples), why not tell us why that quoted sentence is not, as I contend, a non sequitur and therefore a case of bad writing, but rather exemplifies good writing.

    Instead, you get off as usual by attacking me personally. So much for principles.

  • zingzing

    i didn’t attack you, alan. get off your high horse. calling someone out for “playing dumb” isn’t a personal insult, is it? i think not. but that’s what you were doing.

    the sentence is perfectly intelligible. he’s bemoaning its small print run or how hard it is to find, as he finds it to be worthy of a larger run. the choice of the word “obscure” may lead to a few initial questions (as in, is “obscure” a criticism of the work itself, or is “obscure” just the fact that the book’s difficult to find), but those questions are cleared up in the second half of the sentence.

    you ask “Are you saying that this book did not receive a large print run,” so it’s pretty clear you figured it out.

    but then you go on: “If so, it would’ve been helpful to establish that fact before opining that it’s worth one.”

    that’s pretty much what he did isn’t it? pretty sure… he said it was “obscure,” meaning hard to find, then he says it’s worth a larger print run. i’m mystified by your supposed confusion.

    i’m highly doubtful that you had any trouble deciphering the sentence’s meaning. it’s not a perfect sentence, but it’s not worthy of all that up there in your comment.

    and yes, i have written stuff about pimples. i do a lot of work for an esthetics school and skin care company. such is life. you don’t always get to write about stuff you want to write about. i also write a lot about music, both criticism and promotion, but lots of people actively want to do that, and, as i’m sure you know, the pay isn’t always the best. i’ve written television commercials, entire ad campaigns, plays, comedy sketches, etc, etc, etc. so, there’s no shame in admitting that i’ve written about pimples, although there was a lot of self-deprecation in putting it that way. so i’m way ahead of you on that one, al. at least i can truthfully say that i make my money from writing, rather than saying “i’m a writer, and i work in a restaurant to pay the bills.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    The problem is the word obscure. The dictionary defines it variously, of course; but its first four meanings relate to “not clear.” Only upon reaching definition #5 does the meaning “inconspicuous or unnoticeable” kick in.

    A writer who uses the word obscure has a duty to be clear (and not obscure) as to which meaning he’s invoking. Scotty2 failed in that duty. His sentence is badly written.

  • zingzing

    well, you do know it means that it means that, don’t you? i had no trouble figuring out what how he meant it in the sentence. that’s what context is all about.

  • Scotty2

    Actually, although I can see where the word came from, I’ve always used obscure meaning ‘hard to find or see’, which is what I meant here. I was bemoaning the fact that it had a low print run and was well worth a large one. I thought that was clear but apparently not.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    why would i be in chris’ pocket? there’s no money in it. actually, there’s nothing at all in it. chris has explained time and again why you (and others) are getting edited. but you (and others) continue to do the same thing, then escalate your complaints to cries of soviet fascism and the like. you’re just hitting your head against a brick wall

    A gross and self-serving simplification, as usual. Anyone attentive to BC comment threads would surely be aware of a number of complaints against administration of BC comments policy from such diverse personalities as Clavos, Dave Nalle and El Bicho, not to mention the usual suspects. And the worst part of the process is the opining on the part of the censors who, by all reasonable criteria, should be invisible just like Akismet. Yet, the Technorati monster interposes a guardian of the gate in the form of a real person, to make us believe that the Technorati management cares. A vestige from the Olsen era who effectively, as time went on, proceeded on removing himself from day-to-day BC operations in favor of turning BC into a cash cow.

    I have no relationship with Technorati, and I’m certain the majority of BC writers share the same sentiment. Nor do I have any relationship with the Technorati’s gate keepers. But I do have a relationship with the editors who edit my submissions. It’s the editors of their respective sections who ought to be in charge of policing the internet traffic within their domain. Of course, they would have to be paid to perform those and other editorial duties – a topic which, for some reason, remains a taboo.

    It’s bad enough the contributors to BC are being exploited in generating undisclosed amount of advertising revenue to the Technorati monster, but being harassed by guardians of the gate is only adding insult to injury.

    It’s time to abandon the anachronistic practice and bring the matter to a vote. Let the rank and file decide.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, if you were being attentive, you would by now be well aware that if you (or anyone else for that matter) have an issue with something to do with the comments space, the first thing to do is to bring it to my attention. I’ve given you this information both in the comments space and by direct email, so I would hope you would be able to take that on board. I guess you might have ulterior motives for choosing to make your remarks in this way but that wouldn’t be a nice thing to do now would it?

    Beyond that, if you are still not content, we can refer the matter up for a decision. I have no problem with that process and see it as useful.

    It goes with the terrain that there will be occasional complaints about specific choices made in the comments space and I, like everybody else on the planet, make mistakes and am happy to see them corrected, if that is required.

    I take it that you dislike the fact that Rob and I also participate in the comments space. Personally, I disagree with the view that the comments editors should be “invisible like Akismet” and think that it is far better to participate in a community than to simply regulate it from outside, which seems cold to me.

    To the best of my knowledge nobody is being harassed, so I fail to see what your point is but, participation in Blogcritics is completely optional, so if you dislike it, your options at this point are clear. For the sake of clarity, let me add that I am not in any way encouraging you to stop participating and hope you continue to do so.

  • zingzing

    “A gross and self-serving simplification, as usual.”

    how so? i have no truck in the matter. i’m just annoyed by the whining. i know damn well when i’m going to run afoul of the comments policy. so do you. so does alan. we all do it occasionally, but it’s a pretty fucking simple policy and if you can’t understand why you’re being edited, i suggest you go read it.

    i challenge you to tell me how i profit from telling alan what i told him.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Just a reflection of your personality, zing, always going with the flow.

  • zingzing

    well, i certainly recognize the reality of the situation. and i’m not certain this is an issue worth getting all up in a huff about. if someone can’t live by a simple request to be civil (which you yourself demanded in the jackson pollock episode), well, too bad.

    and you certainly know that i’ll make a stink if making a stink is necessary.

    but you still haven’t told me where my profit is in this. i’d really like to know. because i like profit. if i have it, i’ve misplaced it, and i want it back.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    “Self-serving” doesn’t necessarily translate to dollars and cents. In this case, it’s a matter of self-validation.

  • zingzing

    self-validation? how so? i don’t think you know me well enough to make such pronouncements, especially without a shred of backup. and self-validation doesn’t really seem to be a logical conclusion as to why i’d say what i said, as i have no control over the comments policy and it validates nothing within me. your psychoanalytic skills have proven rather weak before, which may just be because you know little about me except whatever “me” i present here. psychoanalysis by internet is a fool’s game, roger. i’d think you’d know that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Chris, I’m trying to keep it in the realm of organizational structure, beyond personalities. And it’s my opinion that the structure sucks. I don’t need any Technorati presence to remind me of their supposed oversight. As I said, my working relationship is and ought to be limited to the respective editors. Anybody else be damned.

    But since we’re on the subject, my other “ulterior motive” concerns the mixing of style with content. More than once, comments and being edited if not outright deleted on account of content – which is to say because the comments editors happen to disagree with the views expressed. And if they’re not being deleted, the commenters are being ridiculed simply for the fact that their views are disagreeable. (There is no need to bring up examples.) And this doesn’t make for a level playing field when a censor carries that kind of weight, being able to delete an entire comment simply because he or she finds it disagreeable and contrary to their own views.

    As to discussing these matters in a different venue, you know that it doesn’t work. When I contacted Barbara and her cohorts, her first response was, “we’ll take care of it.” Until you stepped in. Whether you realize it or not, Chris, you are a big whig in BC organizational structure and what you say goes. The so-called editors or executive directors all stand in awe of you and for lack of spine, are resigned to doing your bidding. I call it conspiracy of silence.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    zing, we can only judge here in the very terms you consider inadequate – which is to say, how you or anyone presents themselves. But I thought you’d know that.

  • zingzing

    so you can only judge by false standards. not a sturdy foundation there, roger.

  • zingzing

    “More than once, comments and being edited if not outright deleted on account of content – which is to say because the comments editors happen to disagree with the views expressed. And if they’re not being deleted, the commenters are being ridiculed simply for the fact that their views are disagreeable. (There is no need to bring up examples.)”

    if that’s true, that’s not good. but i think there is a need to bring up examples. if the editing was done on political grounds, and not because the comment clearly violated the comment policy, prove it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    if the editing was done on political grounds, and not because the comment clearly violated the comment policy, prove it.

    What rubbish! Do you separately save each and every comment you post at Blogcritics? Of course not. Nobody does.

    Failing that, how does one go back and point to an example? The comment has already been either expurgated or expunged. It’s impossible to re-create, unless the writer has a photographic memory.

    I’ll let you and Roger (whose comments directed to Mr. Rose on this thread have been superb) hash out your warped motivations, zingzing. But if proof were needed, comment #24 shows just how deep you are in the pocket of Christopher Rose.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Not false standards, zing, but the only standards available.

  • zingzing

    “Failing that, how does one go back and point to an example?”

    well, if one makes an accusation, one ought to prove it. don’t you think? i haven’t seen anyone edited on purely political grounds. if you wrap a political argument up in a series of insults, you’re going to get the comment edited. the comments editors aren’t going to extract your political argument from your insults. learn how to express yourself without insulting people, and you won’t get edited. it’s fucking simple.

    “comment #24 shows just how deep you are in the pocket of Christopher Rose.”

    all i’m saying is prove it. you’re denouncing the comments editors as fascists and you don’t want to prove it, just because it’s difficult? mccarthy would love you.

  • zingzing

    “Not false standards, zing, but the only standards available.”

    when you try to judge a personality on a persona, it’s a false standard. i’m sure alan wouldn’t dare act like he does here in public. now, i like to make judgments upon him, but i’m not naive enough to think i’m really privy to alan’s deeper psychological motivations. he’s playing a part.

    you say my argument is a gross and self-serving simplification. but that’s a pretty gross and self-serving simplification as well. and who would have seen alan and roger getting together in a pointless battle against a comments editor who holds all the cards?

    if you can prove (or at least recall a time) where you were edited PURELY on political grounds, i’d have as much a problem with that as you would. that would be political censorship. if it’s just some insults that got edited, well, that’s just niceties. them’s the rules. and get over it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Learn how to express yourself without insulting people, and you won’t get edited.
    zingzing (#27): Nov 14, 2010

    nah, it’s because you’re an asshole to everyone, irvin. chris got involved because he got sick of you insulting everyone, and you took to insulting him. do you not see the problem here? if not, you ARE a “dimwitted dolt.” he tried some constructive criticism, but you just responded with insults. connect the dots, idiot.
    zingzing (#110): Nov 12, 2010

    Obviously, it’s OK for you and Mr. Rose to insult people, but wrong for his critics to do so.

    zingzing, your perennial immunity from BC’s Official Comment Policy, which your patron saint Mr. Rose “enforces” with such selective favoritism, is proof positive that you are in his pocket. You are a blunt instrument with which he polices BC’s commentary threads. Just as he expects, you vilify those whom St. Christopher has accused of Anathema on their way to Excommunication. You are a lamb.

  • zingzing

    i fully expected that to get edited. and i wouldn’t complain if it was. in fact, that’s kinda why i wrote it. i’m disappointed. i’ll admit that the fact that it still exists is rather baffling, but i have no control over it. maybe chris checked out. or hasn’t been on duty since that time. i dunno.

    “You are a blunt instrument with which he polices BC’s commentary threads.”

    i don’t see how me getting away with shit makes me a “blunt instrument with which he polices.” and i’ve been edited many, many times before. far more than you ever have. i’ve probably been edited more than you have since you’ve shown up round these parts. i’d bet we’re running pretty close to even at the least. even reprimanded for being a little too nasty.

    but i know when and where to do it. if i want something to stick around, i’ll be very careful about where i place my insults.

    like right at the end, you [Edited]. that was a joke, son. are you even listening?

  • zingzing

    and where’s your ire for doc? do you only despise chris? i’m sure doc has been responsible for as much of the editing of you as chris has. why have you designated chris as your sole enemy? at least put some of the blame on doc. sorry doc.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    No, since you ask (#31), I don’t only despise Chris. I also despise you.

  • zingzing

    for what? disagreeing? ah, poor baby. i’m so sawwy. i’ma go cwy a bit in the cowna. wait for mommy to come hold me.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Not for disagreeing. For being zingzing, a thoroughly despicable creature.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    He doesn’t realize that, Alan. Zing takes himself for a very agreeable human, a real peacemaker if I may say. There are rules, and the rules are there to live by. That’s the world according to zing. But actually, it’s symptomatic of the sick liberal mindset. It’s tyrannical when it comes to protocol. And it’s unaware of its tyrannical aspect because of its preoccupation with issues of social justice on a piecemeal, reform type of basis. Indeed, on this view, a typical liberal is more conventional than a conservative. And their feeling good about themselves and about their intent hides from them the fact that in reality they’re petty tyrants.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, to the best of my knowledge it simply isn’t true that comments are being edited “because the comments editors happen to disagree with the views expressed” nor that “the commenters are being ridiculed simply for the fact that their views are disagreeable”.

    My participation in the comments space is almost always in a personal capacity and, on those rare occasions I do have to make a comment as the Comments Editor, I always make it clear that is the case.

    When you contacted Barbara and others, being new they hadn’t had any previous experience of being contacted about comments matters and when they told you “we’ll take care of it”, they did, by referring the matter to me, which is what one would expect them to do.

    If you knew how difficult it is to get things done in terms of managing the comments space or to introduce any of several new features Rob and I would like to see, you wouldn’t say things like “you are a big whig in BC organizational structure and what you say goes. The so-called editors or executive directors all stand in awe of you”, which is so entirely inaccurate as to be comedic. I would hope they appreciate how hard I try to provide a level playing field for a very divergent group but really have no idea about that as it isn’t something we discuss.

    As an individual, my views are of exactly the same value and importance as those of anybody else, although to my own personal way of thinking I trust my own views more because I have a higher degree of confidence that I am more willing to look at the merits of an argument than some, who clearly are bound in loyal service to one dogma or another.

    I agree that in theory I could overwhelm any views that disagree with my own if I wanted to but that is purely theoretical because I am opposed to such an abuse on practical, community grounds and in principle. Furthermore and at the rest of being too repetitive, you can always contact me if you think I was doing such a thing and escalate matters if required.

    Alan, you’d be surprised how many people do keep copies of their posts to all kinds of sites for a variety of reasons. In your case it might be that you have decided not to trust certain people on principle regardless of the facts but that is obviously speculation on my part…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Fair enough. I’m not going to wash dirty laundry in public, Chris, but I’ll reserve the right to call you on it if and when the occasion should arise. So let’s put it behind us.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Oh, Alan, do you recognise the distinction between gratuitously insulting somebody and accurately describing someone’s behaviour?

    Irv has been self-indulgently attacking people rather than debating ideas, which is why I stepped in, to curtail that, not his points of view. Technically, it seems accurate to describe such behaviour as being that of an “asshole”, so does it not then follow that that was not a personal attack?

    Alan, it is starting to appear that you simply want to have an axe to grind rather than make any substantial or specific point or to request a review of or make a complaint to me about anything to do with how the comments space is managed.

    As I have pointed out before, I don’t see that the comments space is the right venue for an extended debate about how the comments space is managed, particularly in the context where no complaint has in fact been made nor any attempt made to raise an issue with me. It becomes a debate about debating rather than a debate about ideas. At some point, one has to draw a line under the meta-debate. I’m leaving all the back and forth between zingzing and you in place as it appears to show quite clearly the characters involved here but otherwise feel this topic has run its course, particularly as it is not the first time we have had it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Technically, it seems accurate to describe such behaviour as being that of an “asshole” …

    I disagree. Calling someone an asshole is not a technical description. It’s an insult.

    On the other hand, in his same post (#110), zingzing also called Irvin F. Cohen an “idiot.”

    As I’m sure you’re aware from personal experience, that is a technical description of individuals having an IQ below 30. It is therefore a misnomer to classify Mr. Cohen as an idiot. But it’s not an insult.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    So you object to Irv being referred to as an asshole but not as an idiot? Noted, but now we must be moving on so, if you have any further issues, which I feel should be dealt with formally if you do, please do raise them directly with me and I look forward to hearing from you in that case.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Alan,

    IFC calls people assholes on a regular basis; it’s his standard repertoire. He forfeited the right to cry uncle when the shoe is on the other foot.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    And if I were to say of Cohen that he’s being a dickhead, I’m only referring to his behavior. It’s not, in the right kind of context, a personal attack.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Roger Nowosielski (#41), as far as I know (I could be wrong), Irvin F. Cohen has not specifically objected to being called an asshole.

    However, as a BC reader and commenter, I object to zingzing calling Mr. Cohen or anyone else an asshole. It’s not intended, as Mr. Rose would have us believe, as a technical description. It’s meant as an insult.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Perhaps you’re right, Alan, but I’m in no position to ever divine anyone’s intent. Form of words and context are the only things to go by. I’m only trying to be fair, though I agree that zing can be annoying at times.

  • zingzing

    roger: “a typical liberal is more conventional than a conservative. And their feeling good about themselves and about their intent hides from them the fact that in reality they’re petty tyrants.”

    you do what you want, i’ll do what i want, ok? mmm, tyranny.

    roger: “And if I were to say of Cohen that he’s being a dickhead, I’m only referring to his behavior. It’s not, in the right kind of context, a personal attack.”

    how liberal.

    alan: “However, as a BC reader and commenter, I object to zingzing calling Mr. Cohen or anyone else an asshole.”

    asshole. technically, you have one, and a part of you is one. that part is this one. i’m pointing at you.

    roger: “I’m in no position to ever divine anyone’s intent.”

    you’re awful at it. so i’m glad you recognize. i was going to have to regulate. i hate regulating. when i regulate, shit ends. and it don’t end well.

    roger: “I agree that zing can be annoying at times.”

    i’m eating your mother.