This is a TV mini-series (six episodes of 45 minutes each) instigated and hosted by James Cameron. And when they say "Story of Science Fiction," they actually mean "Story of Science Fiction TV and Film." It's an important distinction: there's nothing here on the written word (unless it's been translated into film).
I have mixed feelings about James Cameron. Very mixed feelings. He's arrogant, he's kind of an asshole, he's bombastic. He's intelligent, extremely detail-oriented, and loves science fiction. All of these things show in his movies. My two favourite stories about Cameron are both positive: in 2009, both his film "Avatar" and Kathryn Bigelow's film "Hurt Locker" were up for an Oscar. They were divorced in 1991. I'd always thought of him as a blowhard, so when he won the Oscar I was very surprised by his response. He got to the microphone and said he hadn't written a speech because he was sure she'd win. He's always been like that about her: polite and respectful. And then there's Neil deGrasse Tyson's story. When he met Cameron, he went Astronomer-Geek on him, explaining that the stars in the sky over "Titanic" were all wrong because of geography and the time of year. Cameron just nodded and said "uh-huh," but when the DVD came out ... it was fixed. As I say, seriously detail-oriented, and that can pay off in ways both small and large. Particularly if you're a science geek (like myself) watching his films: unlike so many blockbuster filmmakers, he does his damndest to make sure the laws of physics are obeyed in his films.
Something he's managed with this series that's really astonishing may not initially sound surprising. He's got footage from all the SF movies. I mean ALL of them: do you know how hard that is? Sure, his own - that's probably not too hard (but it's not just him, the studio has to agree too). Getting the rights to show footage from a movie can be anywhere from slightly difficult through impossible. But somehow, he got the rights for every major SF film of the last eighty years (and dozens of minor ones), and he has the clips to prove it. This is no small feat and a huge help to what he's trying to achieve.
He's also got some of the biggest actors and directors in Hollywood today: Christoper Nolan, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Capaldi, Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... plus academics and reviewers to round out the view. Although I have to ask: what is Sean Ono Lennon doing in there? He's just there because he's a fan of SF and he's famous? The series' worst problem is Cameron himself: he has opinions and can't just let his guests talk, he's got to share. It's not that he's wrong, but I'm trying to listen to Ridley Scott or Steven Spielberg, and you keep interupting.
In the end it was a passable introduction to the topic (which I didn't need, but glossy and enjoyable), but it didn't really offer any deeper understanding of any of the multitude of topics it addressed (episodes were called: "Alien Life," "Space Exploration," "Monsters," "Dark Futures," "Intelligent Machines," and "Time Travel").
P.S. He didn't have all the movies: I just realized he failed to include "Ex Machina," the best SF movie of 2014 - and possibly the decade.