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Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it

decoration20 May 2011|25 Sept. 2011

The British Library’s first exhibition to explore science fiction through literature, film, illustration and sound. It will challenge visitors’ perceptions of the genre by uncovering gems of the Library’s collections from the earliest science fiction manuscripts to the latest best-selling novels. This unique exhibition, guest-curated by Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Collections Librarian, University of Liverpool, will examine how science fiction is distinct from other related genres such as fantasy and horror. Tracing the development of the genre from True History by Lucian of Samosata written in the 2nd century AD to the recent writings of Cory Doctorow and China Miéville, the exhibition will trace how science fiction has turned from a niche into a global phenomenon.  Books and manuscripts featured in the exhibition are, among many others Thomas More’s, Utopia (1516), Lucian, True History (1647 edition), Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race (1871), H G Wells, The War of the Worlds (1906). 

”There is no doubt that science fiction has split literary experts for decades and remains a source of debate and discussion across the world. What this exhibition shows is that science fiction is a way of asking questions about the world, its future, and our place in it that has roots in a number of literary traditions and cultures. What we call ‘science fiction’ has long tradition and will continue to dominate popular culture for a long time to come.” (Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Collections Librarian, University of Liverpool and guest-curator of the exhibition)


Mike Ashley: Out of this World. Science fiction but not as you know it. British Library  2011. 144 pages, colour illustrations.

This book, which accompanies 'Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it' - a major British Library exhibition on the scope and nature of science fiction - reveals what science fiction has achieved and seeks to achieve. It shows its history over the last two thousand years and its international importance. Divided into six sections – Alien Worlds, Parallel Worlds, Future Worlds, Virtual Worlds, Perfect Worlds and The End of the World – the book explores how science fiction has responded to the impact of science, technology and socio-political change on ourselves and our societies. From the works of Cyrano de Bergerac to Ray Bradbury and Mary Shelley to J G Ballard this book reveals the full heritage and wonder of science fiction.


20 May 2011|25 Sept. 2011
96 Euston Road
The British Library
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