The new AMC show James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET) finds the director of The Terminator, Aliens, and Avatar discussing the genre with, among others, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro, and George Lucas. “I had to talk George into doing it,” Cameron said at a recent event to promote the series at his Lightstorm Entertainment production company. “He said, ‘I don’t do stuff like this.’ I said, ‘I know, I know. But if you’re going to do stuff like this, you should do this one, because you’ve defined a certain genre of pop culture-science fiction, you created it. You know, it sprang from your forehead. We’re all living in the aftershocks of that now, even 40 years later.’”
On May 15, Insight Editions publishes an accompanying book to the series, also called James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, which features full transcripts of the Cameron-conducted interviews, an interrogation of the Avatar filmmaker himself, essays by science fiction experts, and rare and previously unseen concept art from Cameron’s personal archives.
You can see a selection of that concept art, below.
An early James Cameron piece typical of the transcendental, apocalyptic themes he was exploring as a young science fiction artist. In the image, the transcendent couple has returned through a dimensional portal from a distant time or place with a revelation too terrifying for the unevolved humans.
Concept art by James Cameron for his 1978 short film Xenogensis. Although the wind-shark was a design precursor for the banshees seen in Avatar, the only detail that would ultimately be kept was the sharp teeth that could extend and retract.
Early concept sketch by Cameron for The Terminator showing the title character after receiving critical damage in the film’s final scenes.
An early James Cameron concept piece sets the scene for The Terminator with protagonists Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in the foreground, and the cybernetic assassin emerging from flames in the background.
Early conceptual design by Cameron for the iconic battle between Ripley and the Alien Queen in Aliens. This piece was created before Cameron wrote his Aliens script.
An early concept sketch by James Cameron for the Power Loader seen in Aliens. Cameron envisioned the controls for manipulating the arms to be similar to grasping a baseball bat and drew this sketch to help communicate the idea to the Aliens crew.
Watch a clip of Cameron interviewing Spielberg from James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, above.