The Science Fiction Reboot by Heather Urbanski (book review).

‘The Science Fiction Reboot’ by Heather Urbanski has nothing to do with footware but a look at the number of films and TV series that have had a make-over to seek a new audience and supposedly, to my mind, revitalise the original ideas. It doesn’t actually say that this is a good idea nor the fact that studios would rather rework an existing property that they own copyright to than to introduce new ideas.


I’m not sure if I would include the latest three ‘Star Wars’ as a reboot because essentially they were stories, according to George Lucas, waiting for the technology to catch up before he filmed them in his original plane back in the 70s. Mind you, this is the only film let alone SF series that is mentioned. I had a think about this and, considering this book is released this year, I can’t help wonder why Urbanski didn’t consider the at least four re-makes/reboots of ‘Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers’, two versions of ‘Solaris’, two ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, two versions of ‘Planet Of The Apes’ and, at a push, even ‘Flash Gordon’, ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Superman’, ‘Batman’, ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Incredible Hulk’ remakes. If you’re going to analyse, then it pays to see what else is out there and none of them are hardly minor or direct to DVD sales that could be missed. If this had extended into horror films that are border-line SF, she would have even more. All of the examples I’ve given are off the top of my head without even looking at Google. It’d all very well wanting to make a point but could have done more with a little more thought.

Urbanski is a bit more accurate with the SF TV series although I’m not convinced that the short-run new ‘Knight Rider’ is a reboot but more a continuation to the next regeneration. In contrast, the new and even shorter season ‘Bionic Woman’ series was a reboot and yet only gets a couple mentions than a proper analysis.

If you’re into the remakes of ‘Battlestar: Galactica’, ‘V’ and ‘Star Trek’, then these are very much compared to their originals in some detail. Although I haven’t seen neither of the first two, this doesn’t harm your reading of this book and might even convince you to give them a look. I should also point out that Urbanski’s ‘Star Trek’ comparisons are between the original series and the film remake than the other ‘Trek’ series. In many respects, though, the new ‘Star Trek’ films aren’t really a reboot as they exist in a pocket universe and although the new versions know little of the original reality, the presence of the original Spock maintains the link.

As to other SF TV series, she covers the major ones, although ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ between film and series has marked differences. Most of the time, remakes are made into films than other TV series, as witnessed by the 60s ‘Doctor Who’ films as one of the earliest examples. Frankly, there haven’t been that many TV SF series re-makes because ‘Star Trek’ dominated so much. Thinking about it, we have ‘The Tomorrow People’ (a third one is in the works) and at a push, ‘The Borrowers’ with two TV versions and a film. The first four Narnia books have had two TV versions before the film version.

What she does analyse, I have little to argue against. Well, except where the reference to the ‘Bones’ nickname for McCoy in the original ‘Star Trek’ series came from. In navy tradition, a ship’s surgeon is always called ‘Bones’ because derived from the word ‘Sawbones’, a nickname for a surgeon.

It is interesting where Urbanski points out how some tropes used in ‘Star Trek’ are recognisable without explanation although it would have made sense to have asked people who might have missed the original, assuming that was possible, to see how true it was. A lot of these kinds of things can be picked up on by implication after all which tends to show how bright we are or acceptable to whatever is dished up in front of us.

I suspect for the less jaded reader, there will be a lot that will make sense to the new reader. People like myself will undoubtedly react to the absences more than what is there and think she should have covered more.

GF Willmetts

(pub: McFarland. 230 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £36.50 (UK), $40.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-6509-5)
check out website: www.mcfarlandpub.com and www.eurospanbookstore.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.