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Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film Paperback – 1 Sep 1995

1 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (1 Sept. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252064666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252064661
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,292,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"A new addition to the study of film history as collective unconscious. Telotte puts our cultural obsession with artificial humans on the stand... Offers complex insights into many robotic gems." -- Hotwired

From the Publisher

Robots, Cyborgs, Androids, Replicants and other human things
HOTWIRED said, "A new addition to the study of film history as collective unconscious. Telotte puts our cultural obsession with artificial humans on th stand--our obsession, he says, springs from our narcissism. Telotte...roots this recurring cultural motif in our primal myths. Telotte delves into all the celluloid automota you care to remember, from the subterranean androids who kidnap Gene Autry in _The Phantom Empire_ to Robbie the Robot to Yul Brynner as the psycho-robo- cowboy of _Westworld_. He also covers more recent and familiar replicants, playthings, robocops and terminators. It all melts into a schizophrenic study where the robot/cyborg is both protector and enemy, liberator and threat to our position on the food chain. A good general resource on sci-fi film, Telotte offers complex insights into many robotic gems. The extensive bibliography and filmography will keep you running back and forth to the video store and library so much, you'll need mechanical legs." ***** CHOICE said, "The image of human artifice--manifest in robots, androids, and cyborgs--undergirds Telotte's account of science fiction cinema. [He] takes a humanist approach: science fiction films become a 'formula for exploring the nature of the human being' in tension with the technological. Readers will benefit from the textual analyses. Recommended."

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
When compared to our literature of human artifice-that found throughout the history of western culture in its myths, folklore, novels, and essays-the science fiction film obviously seems a latecomer to the subject. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Paperback
I have recently read this book for my current dissertation on futuristic visions in cinema and I must say I was bitterly disappointed. I couldn't believe my luck when I found a book (in the university library - thankfully I didn't buy it) on such a specific subject, relevant in many ways to my subject matter. However, upon reading the book I found it to be repetitive. There are eight chapters, each apparently on a different aspect of robotics in cinema. Yet, they all say the same thing, with an overuse of quotes from other authors, and the word 'artifice' appearing, out of context, at least once on every page. This is by far one of the least helpful things I have read for my dissertation thus far, as the entire time I have been waiting for Telotte to 'get to the point', but he never does! This book is repetitive and very dissapointing. I'm glad I didn't waste my money!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9acb4e94) out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9acb706c) out of 5 stars A superb history of artificial people in film 4 May 2008
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J. P. Telotte is one of the foremost authorities on the science fiction film in academia today, having also broader survey of the history of the SF film, entitled simply SCIENCE FICTION FILM, and of higher technology in world cinema, entitled simply A DISTANT TECHNOLOGY: SCIENCE FICTION FILM AND THE MACHINE AGE. The value of this volume consists in its focus on what Telotte correctly identifies as the most dominant motif in the SF film, the artificial person, whether conceived as robot, android, cyborg, replicant, or reanimated being.

The book's greatest strength is that it manages to hit all the highpoints in the history of cinema. One might have wished for some films to receive more or even some discussion, but there can be no quibbling that the films actually discussed represent the most important films of the genre. I also liked that he included a chapter on serials, the only place where you can find robots onscreen (with minor exceptions) between METROPOLIS in 1927 and Gort in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL in 1951. Apart from a needlessly convoluted dissection of FORBIDDEN PLANET, most of his analyses are interesting and insightful. This is likely to stand as one of the standard works on artificial people in film for some time to come.

The book is not without flaws. It at times falls prey to some of the weaknesses of academic writing. For instance, I mentioned above the rather poor discussion of FORBIDDEN PLANET, with a rather beside-the-point belaboring of "doubles" within the film. The writing on doubling mainly serves to present a rather strained point that fails to illuminate anything in the film, but merely serves to articulate an insight that feels rather manufactured. Luckily this is an exception in the book.

One thing that I rather regret in the book is that it continues the rather harsh division between film and television. In the past 25 years far more has been done with robots, cyborgs, and other artificial people than in film. In addition, because television is better suited for in depth character analysis, the explorations of the issues raised by these creations are far more developed. Granted that this book was published in 1995 and therefore before the advent of Max on DARK ANGEL, Adam in Season Four of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Sharon Agathon and other Cylons on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, Seven of Nine and the Emergency Holographic Doctor on STAR TREK: VOYAGER, Andromeda Ascendant on ANDROMEDA, Jake on JAKE 2.0, Kyle on KYLE XY, and Cameron on TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. Nonetheless, there had been a plethora of robots on TV, including the Robot on LOST IN SPACE (clearly a version of Robbie the Robot, who receives considerable discussion in the book), Rhoda Miller in MY LIVING DOLL, the Daleks and Cybermen on DR. WHO, Hymie on GET SMART, Max Headroom on the show of the same name, Hawks and McQueen on SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, and, most importantly, Data on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. The ST:TNG episode "The Measure of a Man" is very nearly as important as BLADE RUNNER or ROBOCOP in exploring precisely what it means to be a person. But in the end, I think the omission of any discussion of TV reflects the ongoing though misguided assumption that film is "important" while television is not. Though I ran two different film societies while in grad school, my own belief has evolved in recent years to where I believe that television has actually surpassed film as the thinking person's medium. I am hardly alone in this. There has been an incredible explosion in academic writing about television in the past decade. Hopefully people will cease viewing television and film in such exclusive ways, since the two media are so deeply intertwined. There are, of course, major differences, but these differences as well as their likenesses should be addressed, not ignored.

Still, this is going to remain one of the key texts on the history of artificial people in film. More than aliens, space travel, or time travel, the robot, cyborg, or android is the motif of choice for the modern SF film. This excellent book provides a solid exploration of the history of that motif.
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