Imagining Albion - The Great

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Episodes

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2006062920060703

British Future

Francis Spufford charts the history of Britain - through its Science Fiction.

Francis won't quite be arguing that every starship in British SF is a milkfloat in disguise, but the diversity of ideas in British SF means that these novels do give startling alternative snapshots of Britain down the years.

Science Fiction has always been a genre of ideas, and so, contrary to its escapist image, can provide a hugely evocative record of the time in which it was written.

In the work of HG Wells, therefore, we find Fabian dreams of a future without poverty, nightmares about overpopulation and dark eugenic designs; in Huxley, a fascination with intelligence, and how it can be achieved; in Iain M Banks, curious echoes of the benign Wilson-era Britain in which the author grew up.

This series features some of the biggest names in British Science Fiction, past and present, including Arthur C Clarke.

2/4.

Keep Watching the Shores

Francis asks why Albion succumbed so often to invasion, disaster and collapse.