“The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

61LHpmem-5L

I’ve made no secret of my disappointment in The Rise of Skywalker (TROS), particularly in Ben Solo’s redemption arc. However, whatever my feelings about the final film, I find the process of making Star Wars movies fascinating. I always make it a point to pick up the “Art of Star Wars” books by Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak, which collects concept art used to bring director J.J. Abram and writer Chris Terrio’s story to life. Continue reading ““The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker””

“Inventing Tomorrow” by Sarah Cole

9780231193122I admit I’m probably not the intended audience for this book. I’ve read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, and I’m very interested in the history of science fiction, but I’m not as well versed in his broader body of work. Sarah Cole’s Inventing Tomorrow is an academic study of Wells’s writing that takes him seriously as an early 20th century author. Not an early 20th century science fiction author – just an author. Continue reading ““Inventing Tomorrow” by Sarah Cole”

“Alien Vault” by Ian Nathan

41arQOLvb8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

I discussed Alien, Ridley Scott’s seminal science fiction masterpiece, on a Mythgard podcast last year. Alien is one of my favorite films. No matter how many times I watch the film, I can’t help but be drawn into Scott’s dark, dreary vision of our future. Like Star Wars, another science fiction classic from that era, the story behind the scenes is almost as interesting as the film itself. In Alien Vault, Ian Nathan chronicles what it took to make a film unlike anything else before or since. Continue reading ““Alien Vault” by Ian Nathan”

“George Orwell: A Life” by Bernard Crick

41ppw+UnYpL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

The name “Orwell” is more closely associated with dystopia visions of the future than with a man who lived and breathed. Ever since the publication of 1984, we’ve used the term “Orwellian” to describe suffocating oppression in totalitarian regimes. Yet, George Orwell’s life and political philosophy was more than a condemnation of totalitarianism, as notable as that condemnation was. Bernard Crick’s biography of Orwell – the first of its kind when it was published in 1980 – attempts to understand the man and his works.  Continue reading ““George Orwell: A Life” by Bernard Crick”

“Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski

x510

Some of us might know Joseph Michael Straczynski through his work on Babylon 5. Some of us came to know him through his time on the Spider-Man and Superman comic book lines. Some might have found Joe by browsing on Netflix and finding Sense8. Some of us might even know him primarily through his always amusing and often insightful Twitter feed.

Well, unless you’ve read this book, you don’t know Joe. Continue reading ““Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski”

“Defining a Galaxy” by Bill Slavicsek

51wIkLXTh2L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_I’m currently working on a project about the Star Wars Expanded Universe – the collection of tie-in novels, comics, video games, and other media before the Disney era – and how it influenced the Star Wars animated TV shows. I picked up Bill Slavicsek’s Defining a Galaxy as part of my research. Slavicsek worked as an editor at West End Games while the company was creating material for Star Wars roleplaying games during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Continue reading ““Defining a Galaxy” by Bill Slavicsek”

“Becoming Dr. Seuss” by Brian Jay Jones

511YVC9L5bL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Brian Jay Jones is quickly becoming the foremost chronicler of the lives of American pop culture icons. His biography of Jim Henson is one of my favorite books of the past decade. His treatment of George Lucas wasn’t quite as insightful, perhaps because there have already been many other books about Lucas and Star Wars. His latest book, Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, looks at a very different creative genius.  Continue reading ““Becoming Dr. Seuss” by Brian Jay Jones”

“So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman

2662bdbb8336af9dfe3d591fa76d21a6f53125f1

The original Battlestar Galactica brought groundbreaking effects to the small screen, while Ronald D. Moore’s reboot remains the gold standard for serious science fiction on television. Yet, while BSG has easily earned its place in the science fiction hall of fame, few books have documented the story behind the camera. In So Say We All, Mark Altman and Edward Gross attempt to do what they did with the Star Trek franchise and provide a complete oral history of the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

Continue reading ““So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman”

“Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” by Bob Batchelor

61szh04fjpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I come to this book less as a Marvel fan and more as someone interested in the history of pop culture. Given the recent explosion of superhero films, Stan Lee has come to rank as one of the most important figures in pop culture history. Yet, I realized I knew remarkably little about him. I’ve enjoyed some of the Marvel movies, but had never read any of Stan Lee’s comics.

Bob Batchelor’s new biography is a good start for the uninitiated. He provides a comprehensive overview of Stan Lee’s life and work. It’s a largely sympathetic – but not uncritical – biography of a man who brimmed with creative energy and occasionally made bad financial deals.  Continue reading ““Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” by Bob Batchelor”