A Convenient Parallel Dimension: How Ghostbusters Slimed Us Forever
Written by: James Greene, Jr.
Published by: Lyons Press
“Not only did I go back to work with a lot of attitude, I was late,” he said years later to Rolling Stone. “I didn’t care – I knew that we could be late every day for the rest of our lives.”
It’s all but redundant to say that Ghostbusters had and has an indelible impact on countless generations. It’s a horror-flavoring, breezy comedy with iconography that’s undeniable. Personally, and probably a little obviously just from my work and…entire deal, to be frank, Ghostbusters was one of my first favorite movies. Ghostbusters II was one of the first things I ever checked out of a video store. Across various incarnations and mediums, Ghostbusters permeates not only geek culture but culture in general.
And now, it has arguably the definitive history and examination of said permeation in A Convenient Parallel Dimension: How Ghostbusters Slimed Us Forever by author and freelance journalist James Greene, Jr. Through years of interviews and exhaustive research on the entire genesis of Ghostbusters, Greene has delivered a true marvel. A Convenient Parallel Dimension is equal parts a deeply penetrative history of the franchise from the very start and a keenly personal, heartfelt examination of the creatives involved. Ranging from the iconic stars to the franchise to members of fan clubs, production designers, and even video game engineers.
First, in terms of pure franchise history, this volume delivers with content and stories that will delight even the most hardcore of “Ghost Heads” out there. Greene explores the entire saga, starting with the genesis of the first movie and ranging into the stuttered, COVID-19-ravaged release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Greene starts in the micro by giving readers a “crash course” in the A-list names attached to the project. He then expands gamely into the macro, writing through immensely charming rabbit holes and warmly presented factoids.
And seriously, what a bunch of amazing factoids this book presents. If one were to isolate one aspect of the book, either the history of the franchise or the truly astoundingly weird facts that Greene continually drops, whichever way you turn, this book would be a stunner. For example, I thought I knew a LOT about Ghostbusters. After all, I have been a fan my entire life and have been tracking all sorts of Ghost lore for most of my adolescence into adulthood.
But even knowing that several times Greene shocked and delighted me with some new discovery or reveal bound within this book. This is to say, to those out there who have been desperately awaiting a full breakdown of the infamous “Ghostbusters in Hell” or maybe even finally a full explanation as to the INSANE news story of a second, concurrent Ghostbusters movie that was to happen around Answer The Call, helmed by The Russo Brothers and starring Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt…this book is for you.
The real power of A Convenient Parallel Dimension is the author’s consistently funny and warmly enthralling voice. Aside from the lore and history, you get the real sense throughout that Greene really cares about this. And further cares about the work of the people involved with the franchise. As such, this whole experience carries with it a charm and energy that handily sets it apart from the usual bone-dry, clinically presented “geek history.”
Greene’s prose is continuously committed to being readable and engaging. Bringing you to the gate, as it were, with tons of facts and history, but keeps you rapt with carefully funny turns of phrase, suddenly heartbreaking sections, and even a few truly funny running gags. Such as, did any of you know that Dan Aykroyd kept trying to make what he described as a “Mountie action-comedy” throughout the 70s and 80s? And that said, “Mountie action-comedy” was also attached to various first-look deals to be made in the aftermath of Ghostbusters II? I sure as hell didn’t. But I couldn’t help giggling a bit every time Greene mentioned it.
With every laugh and surprise, Greene supports them with gut-wrenching pathos. Constantly reminding readers of the real people behind the scenes and the not-so-great circumstances that have somewhat surrounded the franchise. “Ghost-Bros,” Bill Murray’s history of casual cruelty, and justifiably mixed reactions to the Answer The Call team’s cast being retconned are just a few examples of the lengths Greene goes to make this a “true history.”
Two real highlights are the way Greene takes on the deaths of Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman. Both losses are couched between genuinely affecting language and powerfully down-to-earth reporting, taken from vast amounts of sources and interviews. Proving once and for all that this volume is concerned less about the franchise itself but just how much this franchise meant to us. As well as the people behind the scenes.
Ultimately, A Convenient Parallel Dimension stands as a triumph. Simultaneously a towering examination of Ghostbusters from soup to nuts and an unflinchingly readable history of the people behind the slime. So many writers often tout a “warts-and-all” approach to these pillars of fandom. But so few of them actually sit down and DO just that. James Greene, Jr. did precisely that, and fans and readers alike stand to reap the benefits.
A Convenient Parallel Dimension: How Ghostbusters Slimed Us Forever by James Greene, Jr. is available now at the bookstore of your choice.