Cameron’s imagination was shaped by the Cold War; the threat of nuclear annihilation is a recurring theme. But he also admires the military and its accessories. “I suppose you could say I believe in peace through superior firepower,” he told me. “I don’t believe that the human race is going to suddenly evolve to the point that we can all join hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ ” He learned to shoot—shotguns, assault rifles, pistols—in the early eighties, when he was writing “The Terminator.” “I didn’t want to write like an idiot, based on some kind of comic-book knowledge,” he said. “I do a lot of things in the pursuit of creating a patina of reality in what is basically fantasy.” He has continued his education, training with a handgun expert on a course with pop-up targets, and spending a lot of time in the desert with his friends, shooting up watermelons and jalopies with an AK-47.

[…]

“We have a big fire problem here,” he said. He mentioned that he has his own pump house. “We take the pool water, mix it with Class A foam, and pump it out over the whole property. Everybody else just runs for the hills.” He threw his hands up and did a squeaky voice. “ ‘Oh, my God!’ We sit and wait. Put on our yellow coats and our breathing gear and wait. And, you know what? It’s impressive. When these hills light up with a hundred-foot-tall wall of flames coming over the top of the hill there, you feel like it’s Armageddon.”

Dana Goodyear, Man of Extremes, The New Yorker October 26 2009