I will be writing in this blog about science fiction in books, on television and occasionally on film. I have taken the title from H G Wells since this is what he himself called his work, he never called it “science fiction,” a term then unknown.
In a preface to a new edition of The Sleeper Awakes, published in 1921 by Odhams Press, H G wrote
It is the first of a series of books I have written at intervals…they are all “fantasies of possibility,” each one takes some great creative tendency, or group of tendencies , and develops its possible consequences in the future.
I think H G summed up in his inimitable style what has always attracted me to the genre of science fiction: the ideas and imagination which at their best can make you look at the world in a different way.
I have been reading and watching science fiction for more than fifty years. As an eight year old I watched the first episode of Doctor Who, “An Unearthly Child”, on 23 November 1963 – and have been watching ever since.
I read the Doctor Who novels written by David Whitaker, The Daleks and The Crusade, and then moved on to other works, essentially all the science fiction novels which Marlow Library possessed. I read the classics – Jules Verne, H G Wells, John Wyndham, Ray Bradbury.
In addition I also read many of the science fiction novels which were published by Victor Gollancz in distinctive yellow covers, and were therefore easy to pick out on the shelves. Naturally I went to see the Doctor Who films in 1965 and 1966 , either at the Regal Cinema in Marlow or The Palace in High Wycombe (both buildings sadly demolished).
I also went to see 2001: a Space Odyssey in 1968 which I enjoyed, but struggled to understand, especially the last section. As a child I spent a lot of time off school with asthma and thus books were a godsend. One of our neighbours, lent me back issues of an American science fiction magazine ( I cannot recall the title), and I read them from cover to cover, often several times.
By the 1970s I was reading novels by John Brunner such as Stand on Zanzibar and The Shock Wave Rider, James Blish’s Cities in Flight series, and Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness: on television I was still watching Doctor Who with Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker as the Doctor, and also watched series such as Doomwatch, Survivors and Blake’s Seven.
Recently I have been reading works by Ian Banks, Neil Gaiman, Kate Griffin, Ken Macleod, Ian McDonald, China Mieville and Cherie Priest.
I have also been revisiting some of those novels that I first read as a teenager : H G Wells, John Wyndham, Fred Hoyle, for instance. Over the next few months I will be writing about these, and how they seem to me now. Of course in some sense you can never read a book twice in the literal sense; you are never the same person as when you read it for the very first time.
I would be delighted to hear from anyone who shares this passion. My email address is: email@example.com