TAC Table of Contents
BIFULCO'S SPACEMAN LOST
Review by Scott Summitt
The Adventures Continue
Copyright 2002 Scott Summitt. All Rights Reserved.
By Michael Bifulco
Published by MJB Books - 2002
Based on the mysterious death of actor George Reeves, SpaceMan Lost spins an effective story of tension, jealousy and mystery set against the nostalgic tableau of Golden Age Hollywood.
Bifulco doesn't let the flashiness of Tinseltown blind the reader to the tragic circumstances leading to the death of Gordon Reed, the fictional star of a popular 1950s television show.
Instead, he paints a telling picture of life in the waning days of Hollywood's Golden Age, introducing readers to the praetorian world behind the glittering facade of Hollywood Babylon.
He effectively sets up the events leading to the mysterious shooting death of the fictional Reed and offers an interesting take on an unsolved Hollywood mystery.
SpaceMan Lost maintains a familiar proximity to its inspirational source and carries all the hallmarks of the original case -- romantic entanglements with the wife of a powerful studio executive, a mysterious shooting, multiple suspects, conspiracy theories, and unanswered questions.
Names of many characters are close to the original people on which they are based -- i.e. George Reeves and the fictional Gordon Reed. Because the fictional story closely parallels the Reeves case, there is an underlying sense of tragedy and solemnity that permeates throughout the book.
Part detective story, part Greek tragedy, the story sometimes skates too near the source of its inspiration, but Bilfulco manages to make several imaginative twists on the subject.
In the spirit of the vintage TV program it undoubtedly celebrates, the book occasionally lets its technical flubs show. Repeated use of phrases (he replied, she replied, he replied again) peek out from the narrative like the "invisible" wires that once suspended TV's Man of Steel in flight.
To the critical eye, this repetition might be a setback, but Bifulco's warm and respectful telling of the story more than makes up for any grammatical shortcomings.
The fictional story is treated with the same familial allegiance that fans of the vintage TV show reverently hold today. Bifulco has obviously put a lot of love and devotion in crafting his narrative, and his sincerity indeed carries the story along to its satisfying conclusion.
SpaceMan Lost is a promising debut from an author with a flair for good storytelling. Bilfulco's budding style shows flashes of genuine imagination and an easy going amble which evenly paces his story between scenes in present day and the almost obligatory flashbacks of 1950s Hollywood.
Fans of genre fiction will surely appreciate this book for its unpolished charm and warm admiration for a beloved television actor whose portrayal of a legendary hero touched countless lives of many a generation.
A long time Superman fan, Scott Summitt is a freelance writer and actor living in Los Angeles, CA . He is the author of the on-going series, The Superman Enigma, which appears in the SuperPlanet Chronicles at SupermanCollectors.com.You can e-mail him at scOtt_summitt@yahoo.com