There are few television shows that have shaped modern pop culture more than The Twilight Zone. People who have never seen an episode may know the references to gremlins on the wing or a man breaking his glasses at the most inopportune moment. To many, it is not surprising that such a work has attracted such a devoted following. Steven Jay Rubin has released a new book for the more diehard fan.
The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia is not a book for the casual fan. It is strictly meant for those who are fascinated by all aspects of the show. The book consists of entries, from A to Z of actors, episodes, themes and trivia. This is very much a deep dive into the minutiae of everything Twilight Zone. There is enough information here to enlighten even the most obsessive fan. For example, it’s one thing to have entries about actors or writers but how many books have discussions about production details? Or film locations? The encyclopedia is, well an encyclopedia of information.
Rubin’s writing is a good example of strong workmanlike prose. The goal is not to turn a clever phrase or to impress you with the author’s knowledge of witty sayings but to convey information. Rubin does this in a clear and concise manner. His breakdowns are a great example of how to pack a great deal of information into a relatively small amount of space.
This reviewer found that the books strengths came from its attention to detail. There are just an overwhelming amount of facts contained here. One gets the feeling that this book is not meant to be read so much as bits and pieces picked out by the reader’s fancy. Perhaps the most entertaining parts are the interviews with the people who made the show, especially Rod Serling (before his passing).
The book does have some shortcomings. The main issue is that the work is missing a retrospective of why The Twilight Zone is such an important force in our culture. We are presented with a dazzling array of facts but lacks explaining why the reader should care. Of course this book is written for the devoted, fan but it seems to be a large hole. The absence of any large scale attempts to grapple with the themes of the show also seems to be a missed opportunity. The reviewer could be mistaken but most people would be drawn to a work like this for a deeper understanding of their favorite episodes.
The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia is a fantastic work for those who are deeply interested in the show. It may lack an in-depth exploration of the themes but this is not the book’s goal. The author largely succeeds in creating a handy reference guide for the hardcore fan. This book is recommended for all of those who love The Twilight Zone or science fiction television shows.