I've been reading, and appreciating, the DVD Savant on-line column for years. Apart from Glenn Erickson's almost terrifyingly prolific output, it's the scope of his work that impresses. He writes in an accessible, conversational style, and yet avoids the superficiality to which a lot of web-based criticism is prone. He has a remarkable knowledge of background detail on filmmakers and individual productions, which he combines with observant critical skills and a willingness to address such often overlooked or avoided things as social, historical and political context, the implications of a film's content, rather than just the details.
In, the introduction to his new book, a collection of 100 of his reviews from the past 13 years of on-line writing, he states that his interest in science fiction movies lies in what they have to reveal about social issues and the ideologies that underlie their stories.
Sci-Fi Savant (Wildside Press) is a useful companion to Bill Warren's classic of the genre, Keep Watching the Skies. While Savant's book has less depth (Warren packs his essays with interviews with participants and surveys of contemporary critical responses), it is broader in scope, covering films from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (the opening essay is on the recent almost-complete restoration) to James Cameron's Avatar, while Warren's focus is on the '50s (well, up to 1963). Sci-Fi Savant offers a historical context into the centre of which Warren's work can be comfortably slotted.
While Savant gives time to many of the major titles of the genre, he also offers coverage of more obscure films, including ones not readily available on DVD – Abel Gance's Le Fin du Mond (1931), which sounds like an interesting disaster; Vasili Zhuravlyov's Kosmicheskiy reys (aka Cosmic Journey or The Space Voyage, 1936); and Harry Horner's red scare revivalist curiosity Red Planet Mars (1952).
One hundred reviews allows him to cover most of the major titles in the genre, plus interesting low budget items and a few buried treasures ... and most importantly, whether you already know the film or have merely heard of it, or it's entirely new to you, these short essays will spur your interest and make you want to see it.