Imagining Albion - The Great 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 and Iain M Banks.

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Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01Big Brother And The Brave New World2006062220060626

Francis explores the sometimes sinister history of utopian dreams, from Thomas More to HG Wells to Iain M Banks.

02Keep Watching The Shores2006062920060703

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

03Albion Unbound2006070620060710

In the 1960s, JG Ballard and Michael Moorcock rebelled against the rocket dreams of much contemporary science fiction, and chose instead to explore 'inner space' - the darker recesses of the human soul.

Francis charts the relationship between science fiction and rebellious counterculture from its earliest days.

04 LASTStarmakers2006071320060717

Francis wonders whether we ever truly belonged among the stars.

American science fiction presented an ever confident vision of progress and conquest, but the stars have often seemed an unlikely British destination.