Hey, do you do that thing where you buy people stuff towards the end of the year? That’s neat, I guess, but you know that’s coming right up, don’t you? What? You’ve got a Back to the Future fan on your list? Is it secretly you? I won’t tell anybody if it’s you. Promise. But what to get this devilishly sexy and not at all awkward human being? Well, as a fan of the flux myself, I may be able to help you out, what with me being insane enough to watch Back to the Future 52 times in one year. And to get through that wonderfully repetitive task, I did an awful lot of reading. If your little Marty McFly– nope, that sounds dirty– if your friend that likes these time travel movies hates reading, I can personally vouch for the video game, this model DeLorean, and the card game, but if they love scanning words with their eyes, here are five BTTF-related books I read this year and whether or not I think your best pal (still probably you) will enjoy them.
The DeLorean Story: The Car, The People, The Scandal by Nick Sutton
Nick Sutton was a senior manager for the DeLorean Motor Corporation and only mentions Back to the Future once in this tell-all book… because he was too traumatized to watch it for 20 years. Is designing a car really that perilous? It is when your facility is constantly fending off terrorist attacks, your eccentric boss is telling you to add useless and expensive parts just because their names sound cool, and the government is accusing your company of fraud and your employer of drug trafficking. If you thought the birth of Marty McFly was a struggle, holy balls, he’s got nothing on the DeLorean. This surprisingly fluent and deeply personal memoir isn’t just a great read for motorheads; it’s an incredible true story that reads like a snappy but terrifying biopic. Grab one for your friend and another for yourself, so you can both appreciate how even the shittiest cars require an unbelievable amount of hard work.
Back to the Future #1 (“The Gang’s All Here”) by Dwayne McDuffie
Great Scott! Our little canine pal Einstein has “cat-aracts,” causing everyone he sees to appear to him as cats, so it’s up to Doc and Marty– ugh, hold up, this is like the animated series, isn’t it? Can I rip on that for just a second? Number one, they dumbed the humor way down for the kids. Number two, Doc’s no fun as a super-scientist that can build borderline magical inventions. Number three, I don’t even like the whole “McFlys and Tannens look exactly the same throughout history” thing in the sequels, but that happens in every episode of the cartoon. Alright, enough complaints? Good, because every single one of them applies to this comic, which is filled with plugs for Universal Studios, the VHS box set of the trilogy, and, you guessed it, the animated series. (“SATURDAY MORNINGS ON CBS!”) My local comic book shop only tracked down the first issue… thankfully… but I doubt the series ever rises above being a glorified advertisement. If you want to see Prohibition-era Hill Valley, get the video game instead, because the comic is sure to land in the “gag gift” pile.
Back to the Future: BFI Film Classics by Andrew Shail and Robin Stoate
If you think I’ve covered a jaw-dropping amount of BTTF topics in my weekly viewings, believe me, this book proves that you can never run out of things to analyze in Back to the Future. Andrew Shail and Robin Stoate explore the film’s place in Reaganite America, teen culture, the New New Hollywood movement, and the cinematic time travel canon. Oh, also, like a million other things. Freud, feminism, Family Guy, boom, all there. No shot is left unscrutinized, no character uninspected, no trope undetected. While it might be a little too in-depth for the casual fan, the cinephile on your list will eat this book up and likely move on to the many other titles in the BFI Film Classics library. I recommend you buy it, gift it, and avoid the recipient for a few months, lest you find yourself trapped in a conversation about why the DeLorean’s temporal display is a coded commentary on the feminization of society. Really. That is in there.
Back to the Future: A Novel by George Gipe
Wow. Wow. How bad is this novelization? It’s so bad that there’s a book about how bad it is. So… let’s just move on to that.
B^F: The Novelization of the Feature Film by Ryan North
Originally started as a tumblr blog and now available from Amazon as an ebook, B^F is such a comprehensive page-by-page analysis of George Gipe’s thoroughly baffling Back to the Future adaptation that I don’t know what I could possibly add to it. Oh, wait, yes I do. I made a list. 1) The teacher played by Huey Lewis is described as fat, so either the part hadn’t been cast yet or Gipe thinks Huey Lewis is a tubbo. 2) George McFly drinks Pepsi with his Rice Krispies, for reasons unknown. 3) Marty recalls seeing some sci-fi movie where a time machine got stuck in a mountain, and since I spent a year watching entirely too many time travel movies, I can say with certainty that that film could only be The Time Machine (1960). For everything else, though, take it away, Ryan North. You may recognize Ryan from Dinosaur Comics, and that same humor style is on full display here, as are his qualifications as an absolute Back to the Future geek. I… kind of didn’t feel alone in the universe after reading this? Anyway, I don’t recommend buying your friend the utterly terrible Gipe novelization without also showing them B^F, as they’ll need consoling afterward.
Alright, get to shopping! Remember, that rush delivery is gonna cost you. Maybe make some little clock tower cookies as back-up?