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Book Review: TCM: Must-See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies That Are Out of This World
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TMC Must-See Sci-Fi review

TCM: Must-See Sci-Fi
50 Movies That Are Out of This World
Paperback | Kindle Edition
By Sloan De Forest
Foreword by Roger Corman
Running Press
Release date: May 1, 2018

I was born in maybe the greatest year in science fiction film history: 1982, which gave us The Thing, Blade Runner, and E.T. By the time I was five years old, I knew Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters. Science Fiction and I go back a long time. How do you define science fiction? Is it robots? Aliens? Giant bugs? How about time travel or visions of the future? It is all this and more and for fans of sci-fi cinema, Sloan De Forest‘s TMC: Must See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies That Are Out of This World is a must-own book.

The gorgeous book from Turner Classic Movies and Running Press features over 260 pages filled with photos, “Far Out Facts,” and “Mind Blowing Moments” as well as details about the importance of the films selected. Sloan De Forest has outdone herself in creating a work that is a crucial part of any sci-fi fans collection. Who better than Roger Corman, acclaimed producer, writer, and director, to introduce the book. In his foreword, he talks about seeing Things to Come, written by H.G. Wells in 1936 and producing “atomic monster” movies in the 1950s when the genre, not the stars of the films, were what people paid the money to see. Like The Twilight Zone, science fiction could explore deep ideological and philosophical questions in broad daylight under the disguise of alien attack or giant bugs.

Phil Hardy called science fiction a genre that “calls into question the world we live in and accept as absolute.” Sloan De Forest’s book is more than a list of great movies, it’s a starter kit for fans of the genre. She makes a point in her introduction to say this isn’t a list of the best movies, but a list of those that have “embedded themselves into the depths of our minds.” And don’t worry if your favorite movie isn’t there. For instance, my favorite sci-fi film is John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982. She deeply discusses the impact of 1951’s The Thing From Another World, and even mentions and pays homage to Carpenter’s classic remake. Her list spans from 1902’s Méliès cinematic achievement, A Trip to the Moon, and goes all the way up to 2016’s Best Picture nominee, Arrival. It contains classics, B-movies from the ’50s, blockbusters, and Oscar winners. It is truly a list worth reading about and then watching. And for true cinephiles, there is a comprehensive bibliography of books, articles, and online resources for the readers to learn more.

This paperback edition serves as a coffee table book, and will likely prompt great discussions about the films and what should or should not be added to the list. I’m ashamed to have only seen half the list myself, so I have some homework to do.

Spanning nine decades and branded by the most trusted authority on film, Turner Classic Movies: Must-See Sci-Fi showcases 50 of the most shocking, weird, wonderful, and mind-bending movies ever made.

From A Trip to the Moon (1902) to Arrival (2016), science fiction cinema has produced a body of classics with a broader range of styles, stories, and subject matter than perhaps any other film genre. They are movies that embed themselves in the depths of the mind, coloring our view of day-to-day reality and probably fueling a few dreams (and nightmares) along the way.

In Turner Classic Movies: Must-See Sci-Fi, fifty unforgettable films are profiled, including beloved favorites like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Fantastic Voyage (1966), groundbreaking shockers like Planet of the Apes (1968) and Alien (1979), and lesser-known landmarks like Things to Come (1936) and Solaris (1972). Illustrated by astounding color and black-and-white images, the book presents the best of this mind-bending genre, detailing through insightful commentary and behind-the-scenes stories why each film remains essential viewing. A perfect gift for any film buff or sci-fi fanatic!

TMC Must-See Sci-Fi cover

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