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The What If Man: The Science Fictional Life of Peter Nicholls

  Directed by: Mark Atkin
Starring: Peter Nicholls
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The What If Man: The Science Fictional Life of Peter Nicholls is also mentioned in pearly's review of Signs (2002).

"Discussions of sci-fi by a guy who'd know" - a review by pearly

If you've ever had some handsome person look down their nose at you and, in a derogatory tone, ask "are you reading a sci-fi novel?", then this film is for you. Peter Nicholls is the author of The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction, which, now in its second incarnation, contains everything you could ever possibly want to know about science fiction.

This documentary gets Peter's thoughts on SF. In the seventies, Peter was looking for a resource that would tell him things about science fiction. Not being able to find one, he decided to write his own. And he did this the only way he knew how - by consuming as much science fiction as he possibly could (he has literally thousands of books, and says he has watched all the science fiction films there are, except for those made in the last couple of years).

For me, the most interesting thread running through the discussions is that of the question of science fiction being regarded as legitimate literature. The cliché of a sci-fi novel with little green aliens on the cover is compared with novels such as George Orwell's 1984. Peter and friends discuss the pigeonholing of sci-fi, and people's snobbery about it.

The film is interesting in no small part because Peter Nicholls is an interesting guy. I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of the film, which was introduced by director Mark Atkin and Peter Nicholls himself, at the 2002 Melbourne International Film Festival. Peter gave an introduction detailing his involvement in the film, which had the crowd laughing out loud.

The What If Man is well shot, with cutaways of stills to show the films / books etc. that Peter is talking about. It will of course interest sci-fi enthusiasts, but should interest non-sci-fi fans alike.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 5 Aug 2002

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Reader comments

  1. Does anyone know if this is available on DVD anywhere? My google searches have lead to naught :( Thanks!!

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from cmotd on Tue 18 Jul 2006 11:26 #

  2. Hi,
    I'm guessing from the timing of your comment that you caught this doco when it was on SBS yesterday.

    I'm afraid I can't help you out with a DVD copy, but hopefully someone who can will stumble onto your comment eventually.

    Good luck!

    A comment from nofreelist's own pearly on Wed 19 Jul 2006 00:19 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.00 (1 rating)

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