The new exhibition at the British Library is subtitled “Science Fiction but not as you know it” and aims to demonstrate the genre’s often overlooked breadth and depth.
Breadth is represented by the range of authors, including writers from 2nd century Roman Empire to 21st century China by way of the Brontë sisters, and topics, everything from first contact with aliens to the end of the world, from cyberpunk to steampunk. Depth comes from the examination of such themes as what it means to be human and how we relate to the universe around us and the technology we use.
The emphasis is on the written word – mostly prose fiction but also graphic novels, comic books, manga and poetry – with original authors’ manuscripts sitting alongside mass-market editions. There are film clips and science fiction inspired music, and should you be inspired, or just think you can do better, you can design your own alien.
In the middle of the exhibition you’ll find a TARDIS , which when added to the one at the Doctor Who Experience, the one at the The London Film Museum and the real police box at Earl’s Court means London must currently be a nexus in the space-time continuum. Or something like that.
Science fiction fans and newcomers alike will come away with a lengthy list of books they want to read.
Out of this World is on at the British Library until 25 September 2011. Free admission to the exhibition itself. Tickets to the surrounding programme of talks and screenings are £7.50, £5.00 concessions.