Out Of This World: science fiction at the British Library

Quick mention of the Out Of This World exhibition on science fiction, which is running at the British Library until 25th September 2011. As befitting its location the exhibition concentrates mainly on literature, from the second century writings of Lucian, who speculated about a journey to the moon, through the new possibilities suggested by the Industrial Revolution and onto the hopes and fears inspired by the wars, technological developments and medical advances of recent years. The bulk of the displays are made up of rare, vintage and illustrated editions of classic and influential sci fi texts, and the thoroughness is admirable – there are many authors represented I’d never heard of, alongside the expected H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur C Clarke and more contemporary names like Alan Moore, Margaret Atwood and China Mieville. I made a ton of notes on writers and books I’m going to try to hunt down. Not a lot of space is available for non-literary fictions (I didn’t spot anything about Star Wars or Alien, for example), though there are some interesting sound samples scattered through the hall that one could listen to on headphones: interviews with Wells, Clarke and William Gibson, fifties radio shows and musical interpretations. Doctor Who fans are catered for with a TARDIS (full-size, on the outside anyway) and a steampunk K9. Really worth checking out, if you like this kind of thing.

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