Riding a goose to the moon: celebrating science fiction

CoverA lot of people I talk to – even avid readers – say they don’t read science fiction. On delving further, I often find that their opinions about science fiction are based not on actually reading any, but on sci-fi movies and TV. This is pretty much like basing your opinion on historical fiction on Spartacus or The Tudors – sure some historical fiction is like that, but heaps of it isn’t.

I follow the British Library on twitter and some time ago came across “Ride a goose to the moon”, a tweet which linked to a Guardian story about a new exhibit about the history of science fiction. I was particularly fascinated to read about a book written in the seventeenth century by a bishop who wrote of travel to the moon harnessed to a flock of geese.

They say on the exhibit website that “Science Fiction is revealed not merely as a popular literary genre but as a way of looking at today’s world and presenting alternatives: radical ideas about science, politics, society, the future … and the nature of reality itself”. The exhibit will also look at how science influences science fiction and vice versa.

You might also be surprised at some of the people who have written science fiction. One of my favourite series as a teen was Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos – archives series and our current science fiction newsletter includes  The stone gods by Jeanette Winterson. Books like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are other examples of frequently unrecognised science fiction.

So if you’re going to be in London this year between 20 May and 25 September you might like to check it out. Or have a look at our web page for some other science-fiction suggestions.

Displaced Reader – Across the bay

Diamond Harbour Library visitThis week they let me out of school early to follow the Displaced Reader on her ongoing  journey to libraries far and wide.

And what a treat!  We started at Lyttelton library (read about our visit here), then skipped across to Diamond Harbour.  It was to have been a nautical jaunt (10 minutes in the ferry, and there’s even a discount for Metrocard holders), but owing to a slight mix-up with expectations about queues and where to wait for ferries, it became a road trip.  Just as good, really, although slightly less damp, and with fewer dolphins.  The weather was gorgeous, the scenery typically beautiful Banks Peninsula, and we passed heaps of interesting places on the way.  If we’d had time, we could have stopped at cafes, pubs, little beaches, Taunton Gardens, Orton Bradley Park, and any number of scenic lookouts.

The road was almost empty, and with little sign of damage from the quake we arrived at Diamond Harbour less than 40 minutes after leaving Lyttelton.  And oh! what a tragedy – 20 minutes until the library opened forced us to stop in at the shop for the biggest icecreams we’ve ever seen.  Sitting in the winter sunshine, looking out over the bay, life felt pretty good.

Dead on 2pm the library opened its doors, and within seconds was full of happy preschoolers and their mums for storytime.  The library is small but well-proportioned, and as with all the branches we’ve been to, full of books and DVDs I swear I’ve not seen before – how does that work?  We chatted to the friendly staff, perused the shelves, checked out a title or two, patted the dogs waiting patiently outside, and set off home again. Some happy snaps were taken to record the day.

I’d thoroughly recommend Diamond Harbour library for  a day out – sun, sea, icecreams and a friendly welcome at the end.  And next time I’m definitely taking the ferry.