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.