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Science Fiction Theatre

J. P. Telotte

Popular Culture, Media Studies, Popular Culture, Television Studies

Published: January 2024
ISBN: 9780814350294
Pages: 134 Size: 5 x 7
Illustrations: 20 b&w photos
Published: January 2024
ISBN: 9780814350300
Pages: 134 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 20 b&w photos

In the wake of the juvenile space operas of the early 1950s, a groundbreaking series debuted and paved the way for one of viewers' favorite genres today: adult-oriented science fiction. Science Fiction Theatre aired with a fresh anthology-style narrative from the vision of veteran producer Ivan Tors and with compelling narration by Truman Bradley. Created by industry-leading syndicator Ziv Television Programs, the show pioneered a scientifically based approach to aliens, telepathy, and the mysteries of the universe that provided a model for Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone (1959-64) and a myriad of acclaimed programs that followed, including The Outer Limits (1963-65), The Ray Bradbury Theater (1985-92),and Black Mirror (2011-present). This book contextualizes Science Fiction Theatre within the budding American television industry of the 1950s, as powerful networks and independent producers and syndicators vied to create and distribute programming to an audience eager to embrace this new, free medium. Including a complete videography of this historically neglected series, author J. P. Telotte illuminates Science Fiction Theatre as a touchstone for understanding the development of science fiction media and the dynamic nature of early television broadcasting.

J. P. Telotte is professor emeritus of film and media studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he taught courses in film history, film genres, animation, and science fiction. He has also served as the coeditor of the journal Post Script and has published eighteen books on film and television with a special emphasis on science fiction media. He is the author of the earliest volume in the TV Milestones Series, Disney TV (Wayne State University Press), and is the editor of The Oxford Handbook of New Science Fiction Cinemas.

In J. P. Telotte's Science Fiction Theatre, our most accomplished scholar of science fiction film examines the anthology series that paved the way for The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Telotte excels at connecting the circumstances of production -- economic, political, social, and technological -- with the images and ideas that made their way onto TV screens and into the national consciousness."

– Brian Attebery, author of Fantasy: How It Works

At a moment when televised science fiction is experiencing its latest golden age, J. P. Telotte's media-savvy study returns us to one of its most important origin points, revealing Science Fiction Theatre as the unrecognized and underappreciated ancestor of everything from The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror to Star Trek and The X-Files.

– Gerry Canavan, managing editor of Science Fiction Film and Television

J. P. Telotte is the dean of science fiction scholarship. His work is as readable as it is insightful. Science Fiction Theatre is an immensely enjoyable book that combines a history of early television with an analysis of a show that initiated all the TV and streaming sci-fi that came in its wake.

– Robert P. Kolker, coauthor with Nathan Abrams of Kubrick: An Odyssey

A deeply researched and accessibly written account of a pioneering television series, locating Science Fiction Theatre in the contexts of postwar popular culture, the science fiction genre, and the American television industry."

– William Boddy