As stated before I’m a fan of the roads not taken with science fiction (and have a blog dedicated to it – including an entry on Star Trek: Phase II) and this was one of the first books on the topic I owned.
Star Trek: Phase II: The Lost Series is the second of three “making of” Star Trek books by the husband/wife Reeves-Stevens team (the others being for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation) but the most interesting because it is about a series that was never made.
With interviews and access, the Reeves-Stevens have fashion definitive text on the subject. Unfortunately, as such, it is also actually defined the subject. The Phase II name, for example, was in reality a parenthetical usage at best, but used to differentiate between the series (with an actual working title Star Trek II) and other things such as planned movies and the working title of Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn).
That said, it’s really the best book available, probably the best that will ever be available on the subject, so if you’re interested in this lost moment of Star Trek history, I recommend this book.
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As a movie/SF buff, I’m also a big fan of the road not taken. I even have my own blog on Unmade SF, so this was the perfect book for me.
The title is great for selling the book. It’s strong, to the point and promises knowledge of potential screen gems and the glee of frustration at what was lost. It’s not a very realistic title, however. Even if people could agree on whether a SF film was good or bad, execution is important. Some great ideas are ruined, and bad ideas can turn out great. Also, Hughes goes for completeness on the topics so some of the films discussed aren’t so great and he sometimes gets a little caught up on the development of films that were made.
The title aside, Hughes completeness is a blessing and a curse. If do a search of the best film never made online you get list after list which combine details into simple list entries. “The film was going to star X and be directed by Y with FX by Z” when X left the project before Y was signed and Z was consulted by the project was shelved before he was hired. It’s that flow that Hughes address. His well researched chapters chronologically address the development of films and their failure (and sometimes replacement). It’s far more accurate and interesting than the simple amalgam of facts. However, it does lead to rambling chapters, sometimes jumping between competing projects in the same franchise. A problem when it comes to reading the book but a necessary evil when presenting the facts.
Overall, The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made isn’t the simple read that the title promises, but a complex exploration of the struggles to get sci-fi films made; a book that pays off if you’re willing to put in the effort.
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