A 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.