For the science-fiction enthusiast: serious reading on futuristic films

Omni's Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies, edited by Danny Peary. Garden City, N.Y.: A Dolphin Book/Doubleday & Co. Illustrated. 309 pp. $35. ``Omni's Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies'' is a book any serious fan of the science-fiction film will want to read.

Containing more than 40 articles on the subject of futuristic films, it ranges from a discussion of Fritz Lang's ``Metropolis'' to interviews with Leonard Nimoy and the late Buster Crabbe. There's something here for almost every science-fiction film buff.

The volume has a couple of weak spots, including some articles that are obvious padding. Nicholas Meyer, who directed the television film ``The Day After,'' contributed all of five paragraphs. Such articles add little to the discussion except a prestigious name to the table of contents.

The other weakness, and one that suggests this book is more suitable for adults and mature adolescents, is the usually gratuitous gutter language in a few of the articles, most notably in Harlan Ellison's rambling and pointless introduction. Ellison redeems himself with his other article, a devastating examination of the flaws in the film ``Outland,'' but editor Peary should have gone to work on his opening essay.

Overall, the volume provides a serious forum for looking at science-fiction movies, giving as much consideration to the content of the films as to their special effects. If one doesn't mind separating the wheat from the chaff, this is a fine book.

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston-based film critic and a frequent contributor to the Monitor.

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