Anyone who knows me may very well have heard my first inking of it, that being of my experience as a very young boy sitting far too close to the television set, enraptured as I was with the ears of a certain logic-spouting Vulcan Sciences Officer serving aboard a certain Federation starship. And I even vividly recall being stuck home from school on my very first snow day ever, sitting before the ‘Boob Tube’ from the spell being woven by a Japanese import called ‘Prince Planet.’ (Google it, kids, and you’ll see it’s very real but sadly not available on home video in any legal format.)
Because I have a second life blogging about the daily history of Science Fiction, I picked up Guy Haley’s SCI-FI CHRONICLES from the local book retailer with great enthusiasm.
Confession time: no, I haven’t finished reading it.
For those who feel that my taking time at this point (I’ve probably made my way through about 20% of it, jumping through its various cleverly and functionally designed sections conducting my own research) to pen a review is fraudulent, then I encourage you to click around for someone else’s entry. Honestly, I wanted to get something up right away because I’ve found this encyclopedic tome to be about as good as it gets for those like myself.
Principally, Haley wanted to create a visual guide to Science Fiction, and – as you’ll learn – he’s enlisted a wealth of SciFi experts from around the globe to help construct this guide the way he has. It’s broken down in several useful ways – first by timeline; second by sub-genre (SciFi encompasses a variety of specific subsets); and lastly by index – making it easy for anyone with eight fingers and two thumbs to surf pages instead of websites in pursuit of whatever nugget of information is desired. Haley and his compatriots have even crafted a variety of visible ‘timelines’ both from a macro-perspective as well as a micro-outlook; this gives all of the writers the opportunity to reflect not only on a specific property (say ‘Star Trek’) but also on how that franchise fits into the greater evolution of SciFi as a medium unto itself. And the brilliant experience is only further enhanced by the fact that CHRONICLES is chocked full of both color and black’n’white photographs everywhere.
For genre fans, this is like Thanksgiving for the eyes.
That said, I will admit that some of the entries I’ve read are a bit ‘lacking,’ but I’m willing to give Haley and co. a pass on that front. After all, a franchise like Doctor Who has had entire books written on the property, and these various journals have examined the work from the points-of-view of history to psychology to real-world application; there’s no way a compendium can truly compete with those works. CHRONICLES is meant to be a catch-all: a vast, expansive databank that hits the bullet points … so if you’re looking for greater detail then you may need to go elsewhere.
But for ‘the straight skinny’? Haley’s collection is a veritable work of art.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE.
This is a relatively ginormous book, and I can say with great assurance that I’ll be spending many happy hours of my years ahead trapped within the pages of Guy Haley’s SCI-FI CHRONICLES. At over 500 pages of fun-filled, photographed facts documenting practically every conceivable facet of Science Fiction, there’s plenty to absorb. Granted, a few of the entries I’ve perused already may lack the kind of depth of commentary I generally enjoy when discussing the genre nearest and dearest to my heart, but that’s a small error to forgive: it’s not like any single compendium can cover every spaceship, ray gun, or robot to everyone’s liking. This? This might be as close as it ever gets.
Buy Sci-Fi Chronicles from Amazon