BOOK REVIEW: SCI-FI CHRONICLES: A VISUAL HISTORY OF THE GALAXY'S GREATEST SCIENCE FICTION / AUTHOR: GUY HALEY / PUBLISHER: AURUM PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 2ND
The sci-fi genre has always fascinated, and for well over a hundred years has provided an artistic outlet for many, utilising almost every available medium. This weighty tome attempts to give an overview of the progression of the various different properties that have emerged over that time.
Laid out in chronological order, what we have is a potted - but incredibly detailed - history of science fiction, from the publication of Frankenstein in 1818 right up to Avatar (2009). Nothing particularly ground-breaking, then? Well, actually, yes. Rather than follow the standard for a chronology - which would involve a lot of two-and-throwing should one wish to look up, say, Doctor Who. Instead, each entry follows the timeline of a particular story, film, writer, etc. in one entry. So, for example, H.G. Wells' section contains an overview of his work, then various adaptations, in the various mediums. Entries that have a rich legacy of reinterpretation and adaptation also have a timeline graphic at the bottom of the page, which is great for at-a-glance reference. There's also pages dedicated to specific 'universe' items. For instance, there's a Dune entry that attempts to summarise the epic saga within a few hundred words, but this, along with a timeline of important events in the story may well be enough for someone to bluff their way through a conversation on Frank Herbert's work.
There's so much crammed into this book, it becomes a joy to just flick to a random page and learn something new. It's not going to go in-depth on the intricacies of plots, or provide everything you always wanted to know about Seaquest DSV, but there's more than enough here to keep one entertained, fascinated and educated for hours.
It's something one can keep coming back to, just like any good reference book should be. Beautifully illustrated and written in a comfortable style that is neither condescending nor dumbed-down, it's an impressive read.