I see a lot of fans of "The Terminator" out there but I'm an old fan, what you might call an original fan because I actually saw the movie the first time in the theater way back in 1984 when I was 15 years old. As of this writing, I am 36 years old and I still pull out the Terminator DVDs once or twice a year to just have a go at it all again mainly because the movie has staying power and it is one hell of a mental roller coaster ride not to mention a pretty good action flick, if you can put your mind into neutral for a few hours.
I won't say the movie changed me in any truly stupendous way, but it did awaken a little bit more of my imagination and I've been a fan of James Cameron's dark vision of the future ever since. James has a unique ability to tell a story and he tells a damn good one whenever he does tell a story. Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, True Lies, and even the epic love story Titanic are all very good stories. Yes, Cameron is a story teller and I find The Terminator to be probably his best work. The story is unique and intriguing, machines rising up against their masters, hunting the human race almost to extinction... I guess that everyone sees the Terminator "story" a different way. I'm a fan of the original movie because it combined several things which I like; science fiction, time travel, action, adventure and lots of sci-fi hardware set in a post-apocalypse future. The movie had a unique story to it and despite all of the scientific and logic holes that have been shot in it over the last two decades by armchair scientists with nothing better to do, the movie still stands on its popularity and its own two feet and it does so quite well. When you look at some of the garbage that Hollywood is shoveling out on us, movies like The Terminator remind you of a time when story and action meant more than budget and CGI. Terminator and T2 are good, rock solid action movies with plenty of eye candy, more so in the second than the first (and a comparable lessening of the story to go with it but then Hollywood is true to form if anything else).
Terminator was the little movie that could, shot on a budget, it went on, like its namesake, to relentlessly wipe out its competition in the box offices around the world and catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into instant super stardom. There was no doubt that there would be a sequel, though that sequel took seven long years to appear. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was more eye candy than solid story and had its own logic loop holes. Still, it introduced us to more technology like the incredible idea of a liquid smart metal based Terminator. We won't even discuss T3... abortion of film that it was. James Cameron was not involved at all in T3 and it clearly shows from the pitiful start to the abysmal end.
James Cameron gave us some really neat ideas to play with in our mind and with just a little bit of originality and creation, it isn't hard to follow in his foot steps and continue to blaze the trail that he started. The sad fact is that so many other artists and writers simply failed to pick up on these core ideas let alone run with them. Their visions and artwork are just copies of James' original work, nothing new, nothing extrapolative, nothing truly original. Sometimes the copies are almost as good as the original, almost, other times it's easy to tell the original and the copy apart. I'll be brutally honest here, I find very little to like in the Terminator genre past the first two movies and their accompanying novels. The so called "expanded universe" usually was filled with bad stories and comics, all involving modern day adventures of yet another time traveling Terminator thrown back in time to eliminate some past target that will affect the future outcome of the War.
It's been done, people and it's been done to death in media and comic form.
None of the expanded universe books dealt with the War in the future and when they did, it was just flash backs suffered as part of the story or by characters in modern days remembering how it used to be like to live way up ahead in the future. Every story of the Terminator takes place in modern day mainly because people aren't original enough to see past the confines of the movie. As cute and cuddly as THE TERMINATOR has become, as watered down as Cameron's original vision has become, I'm surprised that there wasn't a Saturday morning children's cartoon involving Arnold's voice and a protective Terminator come back to help a cute, cuddly kid John Connor from the mean old SKYNET super computer which would try to do everything it could to get at John, stuff like wreck his lemonade stand or tear down his tree house or wad up his bike into a ball of junk. Terminators dressed like substitute teachers, yeah, I could see that kind of silliness. What would have made it complete is at the end of each episode to have the Terminator give some kind of social engineering message about how we shouldn't judge people by their color, how we need to share, protect the environment, etc. Oh, and each episode would have Arnold saying "I'll be back." somewhere in the dialog. Think it couldn't happen? That's how dumbed down the Terminator franchise has become. Looking back now at over two decades of Terminator related paraphernalia and I see very little good stuff that was worth keeping.
No one has ever truly done anything original with the Terminator universe... All the fluff out there is just cookie cutter pieces which never branched out into the unexplored wilds, instead they just followed the example set in the first two movies (so much so that T3's plot was actually just a retelling of T2's story). Nothing original. No thinking outside the really neat idea box that Cameron showed us. All we ever got was just more run of the mill submoron pap smeared across the Terminator logo.
The other key point that is often missed is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not "the" Terminator, he / it is "a" Terminator. That is key to the whole problem; the perception and understanding of his movie character. Cameron showed us that the Machines had finally produced an infiltration unit that could mimic perfectly human behavior. From there, it was simply assumed (wrongly as I have proven here time and time again) that all Terminators look like Arnold.
There were many different classes and variations of the bio-skin covered endoskeleton but you couldn't tell that from all the expanded universe. Also, SKYNET's ability to utilize time travel was very limited, in fact, it was limited to just four instances and then Connor and his troops destroyed the time travel equipment so it could never be used again. It's amazing how many times this time travel idea gets rehashed and reused in the alternate stories. Hell, if you take almost all of the books and comics at face value, most of the War against the Machines was never fought in the future, it was instead fought in the past, in modern day, by machines and humans sent back through time. The whole time travel bit has been done to death and you won't find that plot device used here on this site. We'll discuss the aspects of the time displacement device, how it was built, and the curious side effects of science and technology that lead to the discovery of its operational principles as well as its construction.
The key to the stories was simple; the time travel equipment was only used a very, very limited number of times, SKYNET simply didn't have time to use it any more than what it was used. The time travel aspect of the War was a critical gamble on SKYNET's part, a last ditch effort to save itself (though it doesn't know that in trying to save itself, it may have unwittingly destroyed itself as well by actually creating its greatest enemy and the man who would destroy it; John Connor). In the original movie, SKYNET sends a single T800 Infiltrator back to 1984, the Resistance smashes SKYNET, discovers what it has done and sends back Kyle Reese to stop the T800. In the T2 movie, it is discovered that two time displacements occurred and that two Terminators were sent back, one to 1984 and one several years later up the time stream. The Resistance sends back a reprogrammed T800 to defend John Connor in the second time engagement. After that, the Resistance zeroes the installation and buries it under several hundred tons of debris and rock.
SKYNET is dead.
The time displacement equipment is destroyed.
End of story.
Or is it?
SKYNET leveled the world in 1997, almost causing the extinction of the human race. What humans who did manage to survive "Judgment Day" faced a new horror, the Machines. SKYNET spent the next three decades trying to eradicate the surviving members of the human race and the means and ways that it implemented are as interesting as they are horrific. After thirty-one long years of being hunted by the Machines, despite all the odds against them, the humans rally together and beat back SKYNET's forces, ultimately destroying SKYNET itself in 2029. That time frame alone encompasses over three decades, that's a hell of a lot of time for there to be other heroes than the same model of T800 or John and Sarah Connor. I imagine that there are thousands of stories to be told in those thirty-one years and I wanted to hear them, let alone be the one to actually tell them.
I wanted to do something different with Cameron's vision; I wanted to adhere to it rather than stray this way and that from it.
I've always liked to tell the story from the other side, to give the opposite view point, to dismantle the story and find the little things that other people miss. I like to look at the story from the reverse side. To me, the tale of the Resistance, of John and Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese has already been told. What we don't know is what happened before Kyle Reese stepped into the time displacement device. James Cameron gave us a very dark view of man's technology running rampant, a modern day retelling of the classic Greek mythological tale "Pandora's Box." No one has picked up on that, let alone run with it. Frankly, I was tired of the whole "time traveling terminator" story angle by the opening of T2. T2 would have been a much better movie if the story had been a prequel to the first movie, perhaps if we had been told and shown just why SKYNET wanted John Connor dead so bad that it would use radical experimental technology and an incredible long shot to try a nearly impossible rewriting of its own fate. T2 would have been a much better movie if it had been an actual prequel to THE TERMINATOR, rather than a sequel.
Over the decade in time that this site has been around, I've been amazed at the amount of email that I've received from other Terminator fans telling me that my site was refreshing and enjoyable. This site has been an inspiration to many people throughout the years. The work I have done has produced parts of a Terminator-based role playing game, two failed attempts at computer games, has found its way into other sites where it was considered canon due to its depth and detail, wound up on Wikepedia, and has inspired at least one piece of very good music written in the genre of a future world gone mad with technology. A recent search of the word "Terminator" on Google turned my site up at a ranking of 9 out of over 2,500,000 hits or sites listing the word "Terminator." That's pretty heady praise, all of it summed up, to be in the top 10. So, with that in my pocket, I took a long, hard look at my own Terminator site, what I had done and what the visitors liked. I realized that I had neglected it for far too long, that there was so much that I wanted to add to the site, to share my dark thoughts and visions of what the future would be like where humans were hunted by Machines. With that goal in mind, I sharpened up my best keyboard and went to work cutting, editing, and rewriting a vast majority of this site, trimming the fat and putting the rest on a healthy regimen of thoughtful introspection and a careful influx of details. The work is no where near done and this site, like my others, will continue to be a living site that will grow over time and change often.
I'll say it again: this is not an official site of the Terminator universe. This is an extrapolation, it is one possible view of the yet unseen future, as suggested and researched by me through watching the two movies and reading the two novels of those movies. I am still amazed at the wealth of original (and often overlooked) information that the novels contained, info that has apparently been neglected by everyone but me... info that has formed the core basis for this site and, apparently, its popularity among those devoted fans who have grown sick and tired of the kind of cookie-cutter fan sites that are as mentally painful as they are a waste of good bandwidth.
So here, then, after much asking and pleading on you, the visitor's, part, I present version two of the TERMINATOR: 2029 A.D. site, entitled simply "Rage against the Machines." The one thing that this site stands for is that the Terminator story isn't about the big name Hollywood stars of the film, it isn't about waiting on your seat in anticipation of hearing the tired old cliché line "I'll be back." The story is about the hardware, the technology and why science is a double edged sword. The first and foremost lesson to be learned from Terminator is that if you build the ultimate weapon, you had better make sure that it damn well can't turn on you when you activate it.
Thirty one long, dark years full of suffering, pain, disease, sickness, hunger, cold, and death among the ruins. Thirty one years of being hunted to the brink of extinction by the Machines. There are a lot of tales to be told in the time between the start of the War in 1997 and the fall of SKYNET in 2029. Hopefully you'll find some of those stories here. You may even be moved to write some of your own. Iron sharpens iron so that one man sharpens another man. The spark of inspiration is just that, a spark cast off from a brighter fire that lands and ignites a new fire. If this site does anything for the fan base, maybe it will make them think and will break them out of the brain lock that they have been marching to for nearly 20 years now.
What will you find on this site?
Lots of my imagination hard at work, from new hardware and weapons to new ideas and fiction (short pieces and maybe short stories). What will you not find? A guestbook, any pleas to vote for my site so it can be number one in some stupid AOL or Geo-Cities type Terminator fan site contest somewhere, pictures of the major stars, gushy "Arnold is sooo kewl and awesum!" type drivel, or a heavy emphasis on the time travel aspect. This website is about the future, a future that we've been teased with for over twenty years now. It is a future that we are hungry for, a future we want to see come to life on the big screen. Whether or not brighter intellects in Hollywood will ever prevail remains to be seen (and questioned).
So, if you're a fan of James Cameron's "The Terminator" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" then I welcome you to something different, something that is going to make you think. I welcome you to an original Terminator site like no other Terminator site on the Internet. If you're looking for a link to the Arnold Schwarzenegger or Linda Hamilton fan club, then you're flat damn out of luck.
Thanks for stopping by!
Christopher T. Shields
October, 2005 A.D.