Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 132

128 Populär Culture Review Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Populär Culture Jam es C hapm an and N ich o la s J. C ull I. B . Tauris, 2 0 1 3 The first thing to be said regarding Chapman and Cull’s new book, Projecting Tomorrow is that it is pleasure to read; in an appealing, clear and witty style, Chapman and Cull analyze twelve key Science fiction films in order to trace the evolution o f the genre from David B utler’s Just Imagine (1930) all the way to James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). The result is both entertaining and highly instructive, as Chapman and Cull shed light not only upon the conditions o f production o f each film, such as their respective historical and cinematic contexts, but also present their socio-cultural implications and semiotic contents— smoothly shifting from contextual to textual description and interpretation. While the introduction justifies the corpus o f study underlining the merits o f the selected films, the afterword introduces the new cultural trends that inform the study o f Science fiction cinema at large, observing in particular an increasing independence o f the medium vis-ä-vis its traditional sources o f inspiration, such as novels, plays, novellas and short stories, suggesting hence that cinema is more than ever in the process o f articulating itself as a complete culturally and artistically significant narrative vehicle. Projecting Tomorrow is an important work for several reasons; first, it represents a direct and fundamental contribution to the on-going elaboration o f a populär cultural canon, for it allows us to perceive the merits o f traditionally frowned upon cultural narrative products, such as Science fiction films, and their influence not only on our society but also on the manner in which we understand our reality. Secondly, from a theoretical point o f view, Chapman and Cull’s book is nothing short than exemplary: as cultural studies are plagued by over-conceptualized jargon and often exhibit a definite disdain towards primary sources, which more offen than not serve as mere pretexts to promote pre-existing ideological agendas, Projecting Tomorrow, on the contrary, is firmly grounded upon empirical data and leaves no room for idle, theoretically esoteric speculations. This is not to say that Chapman and Cull are not theoretically informed, far from it, but rather that their approach Privileges the primary sources and remains within the scope o f their