A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon (Book Review)

A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon

I take great pride in the fact that I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi comedy trilogy; Back to the Future. For over 2 decades I’ve had my hand in making personal parody videos playing both Doc & Marty, I was a member of the original Fan Club, I’ve met all the principal cast from the film, been a guest at Michael J Fox’s walk of fame induction, worked many of the anniversary celebrations, met Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale numerous times, saw Tom Wilson perform stand-up, been on the BTTF.com team for almost 13 years and most recently covered the exclusive behind the scenes development of the Mattel Hoverboards. So yeah, I’d consider myself a pretty big enthusiast and thought I was pretty knowledgeable of most things Back to the Future. And then like a bolt of lightning I picked up Rich Handley’s new book  A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon from Hasslein Books and suddenly I sheepishly realized there was a lot more to the BTTF universe that I needed to learn in my on-going journey as a fan. If you love the Back to the Future films, I encourage you to pick this ultimate guide-book up, you will NOT be disappointed. Click ahead to read my review…


Lexicon – lex·i·con [lek-si-kon] noun = A dictionary or a list of terms relating to a particular subject. (For those unfamiliar with the word Lexicon, we can best break this book down into saying it’s more of an in-depth detailed Encyclopedia of people, places, things and events that exist within the Back to the Future universe.)


Now I’ve been talking to author Rich Handley for over a year now as he’s been putting this amazing book together. Most of our banter during the making of it consisted of random conversations like  “Can you think of any Back to the Future references that start with the letter Q”? Well “Quarter” made it…after-all, Marty did drop one in the Save the Clock Tower can for the Hill Valley Preservation Society. Of course I was very interested in seeing how much water Rich could actually squeeze out of a rock for this upcoming publication. I would sit and brainstorm, running scenes in my head, characters, locations and think…boy, good luck Handley, this is going to be a real quick read, how much could there possibly be? Well the advance review copy came in the other day for of A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon and boy was I eating those words as I thumbed thru the jaw-dropping 340 pages. Please pass the salt Rich.

A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon

Wow! I had no idea what to expect and calling this book Impressive does not do it justice. Words such as Mind-Blowing, Grandiose, Herculean, Colossal, Mammoth, Titanic, Immense and Marty McFly’s own “Heavy” start to scrape the surface. Despite what you think you know about the movie or how big a fan you think you may be…be prepared for an eye-opener as this book opens you up to the expanded universe.

A Matter of Time: The Back to the Future Lexicon lists nearly 3,000 alphabetical entries detailing every character, scientific innovation, institution, location, vehicle, business and more from the BTTF franchise (including but not limited to the film trilogy, animated series, video games, novels, scripts, theme-park ride, card game and more). It provides names of all the known descendants, ancestors and aliases for every major character from the film trilogy, yes, every McFly, Brown, Tannen, Strickland, Clayton and Parker! Curious about every Hill Valley business or in need of a breakdown of each of Doc Brown’s hundreds of eccentric inventions? A Matter of Time covers it all…and then some!

I kid you not, I started reading this book and found myself pulling out my Blu-ray edition of the films revisiting certain scenes and pausing to find these references that I can’t believe I missed, nor could believe were painstakingly researched and documented.

It’s fitting that A Matter of Time: The Back to the Future Lexicon has a great foreword by noted Back to the Future expert Stephen Clark, of BTTF.com who has been a very good friend of mine for close to 15 years and huge supporter of Beyond the Marquee from it’s inception. It was a thrill to know he not only endorsed and gave his blessing to this book, but was able to pen some of his experiences and history of his involvement with the film’s franchise in it as well. I agree with Stephen when he says in his foreword’ “”you’re about to embark upon an incredible journey of unmatched research and creativeness, all pooled together into this one reference guide.”


A few pages from the inside of the book, from the Abbreviation Key Codes to some random alphabetical listings (Click to Enlarge)


An important thing right off the bat to familiarize yourself with, or at least know exist within the book to help you, are the abbreviation key codes. As you thumb thru this you’ll find many a references that will leave you wondering how after watching the films hundreds of times (as I have), how are you still not aware of certain names, locations, places, etc. And the explanation is simple. Some of these things existed outside of the film, in Back to the Future video games, cartoons, film novelizations, promotional videos, theme park rides, award shows, deleted scenes and more. And Rich has extensively dug them all up and not only included them in the book, but tagged each one with a reference code to let you know where (and when) it took place.

An Example:

Blue Nirvana: A musical group that performed at a Vietnam War protest rally to which Lorraine McFly donated her time in 1967 [BTF2-s1] / Blue Nirvana!?!! Where and when did Lorraine and Blue Nirvana get mentioned in the movie? Well waste no more time pondering, a quick check to the appendix codes…and apparently though not in the final film, this information appeared in the 1st Draft of the Screenplay for Back to the Future 2. Great Scott, how did Rich get his hands on that!?!??!

Future Boy: A derisive nickname that Emmett Brown skeptically dubbed Marty McFly upon first meeting the time-traveling youth in 1955 [BTF1]. / Ok, I remember that part from the first movie…and sure enough the appendix code confirms that [BTF1] = Film: Back to the Future.

One more? Sure…

Wet Burger: A business in Hill Valley, circa 2015 [NTND] / Was that near the Cafe 80’s or the HOLOMAX theater? What’s NTND you ask? Easy glance to the side of the page to the appendix codes…and voila… Wet Burger appeared in Nintendo’s Back to the Future the Ride Mini-Game (I had no idea such a ride game existed…and thus I’ve learned something and maybe now so have you)


Gallery Images of some of the pages of archived Back to the Future print materials (Click to Enlarge)


After you’ve gotten past the Z’s (ie: Robert Zemeckis the director of the Back to the Future trilogy and Zeke an old-timer who frequented the Hill Valley Saloon in 1885) the book continues with even more juicy tidbits, from various Appendixes full of information. Here you’ll find episode guides to the expansive Back to the Future universe and further details beyond the films such as the Animated TV series, Simulator Rides, Comic Books, Commercials, Music Videos, Games, Relatives, Accessories and my favorite…Appendix IV<<< the Cover Gallery.

Now I have about 4 giant bins of Back to the Future memorabilia in my garage and I was delighted to see a lot of references in the Cover Gallery of things I’ve been saving (my wife may say “hoarding”) for years, and this suckers extensive! Over 160 covers from the films, home-video releases, novels, magazines, comic books, video games, card games, Happy Meal boxes and more. Even this book’s cover finds a place in the mix which I felt was fitting yet also funny. A Matter of Time goes beyond the Lexicon and expands into visual Archiving. To be honest, I was not expecting to see all of those things referenced, which then once I did, of course to my surprise I discovered some cool items I didn’t own!!! Here I come eBay.


Samples of Interior Art within the Book from Pat Carbajal (Click to Enlarge)


The book itself is beautifully designed by Paul C. Giachetti who as Hasslein’s art-director came up with the idea for how the book looks, and worked with artist Pat Carbajal who produced the exclusive cool-looking borders around each lexicon page, created 27 fantastic full-page interior illustrations and even drew the cover.

Rich Handley who wrote this magnificent book and spent every day for the past 18 months immersed in the Back to the Future universe, deserves a standing ovation for his time and dedication. Clearly this is a book writen with heart, passion and by a true fan…for the true fans! Rich also is the author of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology and Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia, which are also Must Haves for fans of Planet of the Apes. I just ordered mine on Amazon yesterday…I’m not kidding.

A Matter of Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon is now available at Amazon.comCreateSpace.comBarnesandNoble.com and BTTF.com (the official Back to the Future Web site) With the Christmas shopping season upon us, the time is right to take your favorite sci-fi fan’s gift list back to the future. For less than $30, A Matter of Time is your complete guide to Hill Valley past, present and future. So make like a tree… and place your order today…and tell them Steve Czarnecki who is thanked in the book on page 5 sent you!!!



ORDER NOW – A Matter of Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon (Book Review)”

  1. […] to promote and review, but not a film…but, a book! Last year we were sent a review copy of the  A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon from Hasslein Books and were just absolutely floored with the level of detailed information the […]

  2. […] Check out our review of Hasslein Book’s first publication of Back to the Future A Matter of Time: the Back to the Future Lexicon […]

  3. Ali says:

    I am a huge fan of BTTF but this book is a waste of time never mind ‘a matter’. It’s riddled with mistakes and just plain stupid ones at that. There’s pointless stuff included then actual relevant stuff left out! Buy second hand at a very low price if I was you! Not worth the price from new.

  4. Great stuff Steve! I really dig the site too. Here is a link to my take on the book although my opening was edited w/ just a few words that I would never type but its the nature of being a freelancer!


Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress