Title: Terminator 2 Judgment Day
Tagline: “He’s Back.”
Based on the screenplay by James Cameron & William Wisher
Novel by Randall Frakes
Page Count: 256
Published: June 1st, 1991 (Spectra)
In the spring of 2016, I went on a massive Terminator binge. It’s such a rich franchise and always worth wallowing in every few years. Now I wasn’t too fond of the rebooted sequel in 2015 and felt that took the whole Time Travel aspect a bit too far. But we aren’t gonna focus on the films right now.
After listening to the Terminator (1984) novelization on youtube, I was dazzled by the splendid prose of Randall Frakes and William Wisher. But, with the rarity of the first novel, I haven’t felt the urge to purchase it yet, being that the price of it ranges from $35-$50 on Ebay. Even so, after I complete the audiobook, I will review the original on this blog by the end of the year, so be sure to check that out.
Now onto T2.
Randall Frakes wrote this book without the aide of William Wisher, who co-wrote the original with him. And the the loss of him is felt. Randall Frakes does excel in many areas, mainly with action scenes, technological phenomenon, and metaphors. The man has a military pedigree and he’s able to flesh out the carnage in graphic detail, and overall the prose is great. However, he does fall into a lengthy tedium in this book, starting with the intro of John and his foster parents and it doesn’t end until the arrival of the terminator and John at the asylum.
In this lull, Frakes commits a slew of writing sins–beginning sequential sentences with the same word (usually “THE“), unleashing a series of cliche phrases (“Parted like the red sea.” “Every nook and cranny.” “Flung like a ragdoll.”)
But those are all minor gripes. The man also provides the reader with a ton of scientific, technological, and mechanical terms that i’ve never come across. And if anyone knows me, I do enjoy learning new words to add to my thesaurus. I’ll take them. Frakes’s affinity for motorcycles was also blatant. Much of that material was bloated and verbose.
Alright, enough of my critique on the writer. Now onto the extra info we learn in the novelization.
In the opening chapter, Sarah Connor is traversing the arid landscape of the mexican desert. It’s essentially an introspection on the events of the first film and her accepting the onus of being a messianic mother to John Connor.
In the following chapters, we jump ahead to the future–July 11th, 2029. All of these scenes aren’t in the film, featuring the apocalyptic world of ruined cities and rampant robots engaged in warfare with humans. There’s some great action here and tremendous thrills to get you amped up for the rest of the book.
We learn that Sarah Connor was killed along with her convoy in combat by HKs in Mexico. With solemn grace, John takes the news as if it’s just another casualty. Or so that’s the front her puts on to other soldiers.
John Connor and the resistance exact a successful assault on Skynet’s main hub, all during a simultaneous raid on the Colorado compound where Skynet’s computer grid is destroyed. Once they breach the complex, he encounters Kyle Reese. He has indifferent feelings about Reese, because of the oddity of the situation. Nonetheless, he had gifted Kyle with the original pic of his Mom, while giving out other copies of the photo to other soldiers. It’s kinda weird, but it’s meant to be a piece of inspiration to the soldiers except most probably used it to jerk off to. It had to the number one source of porn to the guys, just like how boys will use a Sears catalog to get aroused.
Anyway, John and his soldiers locate a room of deactivated terminators, with two missing. They also notice the time machine was recently used, meaning they hadn’t entirely thwarted the machines. Surprisingly, this future John Connor isn’t as adept with technology as the 1991 John Connor. So he instructs his techies to enable the machine for activation. If it weren’t for the Tech Specialists analyzing and cracking Cyberdyne’s data codes, they would not have conquered the machines.
Of course, Kyle Reese volunteers to go back to 1984 and save John’s Mom from Termination. This scene is replicated in Terminator Genisys and probably featured in the screenplay for T2, but it’s unclear if James Cameron ever filmed it back then. Knowing his existence depends on Kyle Reese being sent back, John approves the mission. Kyle is swabbed in “Conductance Jelly” and shipped back.
While inside this room of deactivated terminators, the squad is baffled to find a strange liquid metal substance. None of them had ever encountered a liquid Terminator before, and this kicks off the events that led to them reprogramming and sending back a T-800 Model 101 to protect John in 1991.
With the extended prologue out of the way, we now enter the scenes depicted in the film. Additionally, all the deleted scenes featured on the 2-disc dvd are included into the novelization. Yes, that includes the Kyle Reese ghostly hallucination and the plotline of how the liquid terminator can involuntarily morph into whatever metal he touches. I abhor that one and am thankful it was axed from the final cut.
I must get to the important background info on Miles Dyson and the rise of Cyberdyne. Miles Dyson grew up in Detroit and had aspired to be a basketball player growing up. After that inevitably fell through, his High school counselor made him retake his SATs, which he ended up scoring high in Math. So high, in fact, he received a federally funded scholarship to CalTech in Pasadena, California. It turns out he had a ” tremendous affinity for equations & formulae”. During grad school, Cyberdyne wooed him to join their company and that brings us up to date on that.
But how did Cyberdyne become a juggernaut in the Technology sphere?
If you remember the ending to Terminator (1984), the T-800 model 101 is crushed in a compressor machine and left for the cops to clean-up. Well, it turns out that that company was called Kleinhaus Electronics located in LA. The next morning, Jack Kroll came to work and stumbled upon the destruction while the cops were there taping off the crime scene. Out of sheer curiosity, he slipped past the line unnoticed and purloined a few of the items–the severed Terminator Arm and a bit-sized wafer chip.
After discovering its amazing features, he along with his co-worker Greg Simmons quit Kleinhaus Electronics, borrowed a ton of money, and started Cyberdyne. It took them a few years of studying the labyrinthine chip’s many complexities before they ever turned a profit. Sadly, Jack Kroll died of a brain tumor before ever fully succeeding, though he did create the template for the wafer circuit. For a span, the company was in limbo until the talented Lab Tech Miles Dyson came along.
Eventually, they went from a micro-company to megamillion dollar corporation. Dyson was only one of three people ever to work on the futuristic circuitry. Greg Simmons was now the CEO and considered as more of a salesman and money raiser than an adept code writer.
Another intriguing scene added to the novelization was the freak-out of Dr. Silberman. This is the hyper-realistic psychologist that never believes Sarah’s warnings of Terminator machines and time-travel warfare. When Silberman witnesses the battle of Terminators in the hallway, he’s petrified an left speechless in the scene. He’s never seen again in the movie, but in the book that revisit him in a hysterical panic. While being wheeled onto an ambulance, he raves about how the Terminators are real and he was wrong the whole-time. I prefer the naysaying Silberman. Even faced with the surrealism, I feel Silberman is so indoctrinated by societal beliefs that he would try and make sense of the whole otherworldly instance.
Let’s skip to the ending.
After the termination of the liquid metal terminator and the execution of the T-800 model 101, Frakes gives us an epilogue set in the distant future. The year is 2029 and a 45 yr old John Connor is a US senator with two kids. There was no Judgment Day and the Machines never rose to dominance. Instead, Sarah records a tape talking about how lucky mankind is for averting the cataclysm. Still, she broods about how one day mankind will unwittingly create machines to overtake mankind, but for now it was at least postponed for awhile.
Overall grade: A-