Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder | What lies within the BFI compendium?


Sci-Fi Days of Fear and Wonder

Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder is the BFI’s nationwide blockbuster celebration of the world’s most popular genre featuring three months of bold programming covering Tomorrow’s World, a place packed with futuristic ‘what-if’ thrills; Altered States, the sci-fi of inner-space and the strange imaginings of different ways to be human; and Contact, with aliens in outer space and in our midst.

Alongside screenings at the cinema and on TV, DVD and online, the BFI have produced a range of new sci-fi film classic books, as well as this meticulously-researched compendium. Split into the three terrains that featured in the BFI season, the compendium charts cinema’s sci-fi landscape – from its infancy, when Georges Méliès took A Trip to the Moon in 1902 to the epic head-rush that is Christopher Nolan’s newly-released Interstellar – with 28 illuminating, stimulating and informative essays nestling within a soft back book packed with iconic imagery.

Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder Compendium

Among the contributors are SF writer Stephen Baxter (on Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), astrophysicist-turned-author Alastair Reynolds (on the dangers of space travel on the big screen) and scientist/broadcaster Adam Rutherford (on artificial intelligences); genre specialists Matthew Sweet (on classic British TV sci-fi) and Mark Salisbury (on the history of sci-fi special effects); while a number of in-house BFI curators express their love for the genre with articles ranging from the avant-garde to classic sci-fi on a shoestring. I particularly liked researcher Marketa Uhlirova’s excellent sci-fi costume and fashion essay (which deserves a book on its own) and writer Ashley Clark’s fascinating article on Afrofuturism. A chronology helps bridge the genre’s time span, and there’s a handy film index. This one will be well thumbed by the time you’re finished, so watch out for the soft back.

Sci-Fi Days of Fear and Wonder

Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder is the fourth BFI Compendium, following 39 Steps to the Genius of Hitchcock, Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film and Electric Shadows: A Century of Chinese Cinema, and is available to buy from the BFI Shop at BFI Southbank for £15 (RRP £16.99), or visit:

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on November 7, 2014, in BFI Player, Books and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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