Who Goes There?
Maybe, in the era of the word processor, there isn't enough modern material to show, or SF's commercial nature has now diminished its literary dimension. Even the British Library is taken: witness the huge selection of merchandise available to buy when you leave.
Science fiction: take it seriously
It's also an oddly clinical exhibition - all these references to authors, illustrators, composers and film-makers, all working in a genre ultimately concerned with what the future holds for humanity, and not a picture, not a biography of a one of them.
Alongside the video screens are some interactives that will keep the kids occupied but not for long, and they're unlikely to be engaged by the static displays. My advice: don't take the offspring when you visit.
Out of this World is not without its gems: Ron Grainer's handwritten Doctor Who theme score, and a (small) number of typed or handwritten manuscripts by J G Ballard, Philip Pullman and others provide an all-too-brief glimpse into the creative process.
Fantastic planet: Luigi Serafini's Euro-utopia
I'd never seen or heard of Italian designer Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus, a painted compendium of futuristic cities and landscapes, all annotated in a made-up language, bizarre in that way 1970s European SF - think Fantastic Planet and French comic art from the period - could be. To its credit, Out of this World isn't as anglocentric as many SF shows tend to be.
With is emphasis on the literary - the exhibition is notably keen to highlight mainstream writers' forays into the genre - Out of this World seems aimed more at the Eng Lit crowd than sci-fi fans. Yes, it does convey the notion that SF can and has been a genre of ideas as much as brute escapism. But for all us long-time fans - particularly those of us who've read the encyclopaedias - among the novels there's little here that's novel. ®
Out of this World science fiction exhibition
Run 20 May to 25 September
Details Out of this World at the British Library site
Also the 'Terran Trade Authority' books; a fantastic excuse to show off the art of people like Chris Foss and the sadly expired Peter Elson.
The talks and events attached to the exhibition are pretty meaty
William Gibson (volcano permitting), Iain M Banks, Cory Doctorow, Michael Mosley, David Deutsch, Aleks Krotoski, all on the bill exploring various aspects of SF at very reasonable prices
Now, if they'd included some SciFi in English Lit classes instead of all that dry, boring crap we had to read then I might have had more interest. Alternatively, I guess it might have sucked the interest out of SciFi too.
> I think you have shown a page from Codex Seraphinianus.
Indeed. As the article says:
"I'd never seen or heard of Italian designer Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus,..."
ah, wacky 70's euro-scifi, what a genre!
I just googled images for "Codex Seraphinianus"
All I can say is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It looks like, er, well, I take it some recreational substances may have been involved.
The the words of the great Zaphod Beeblebrox: "I hope you've got your head screwed on, baby!"