|Photo courtesy of the Associated Press|
The exhibit, called "Out Of This World," strives to show early literary instances of science fiction and the first dreams of space exploration. The Library wants to show people that sci-fi isn't just pulp fiction and bad CGI movies.
"It's much, much wider than that," Katya Rogatchevskaia, a co-curator of the exhibit says. "H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, they are fantastic influences, but it's a very diverse genre."The exhibit shows instances of science fiction dating back to the second century, where Lucian of Samosata described a fantastical adventure on the moon! In the second century! It also includes pieces of art and literature that invoke that certain sci-fi feeling. Even Alice In Wonderland, with it's dream worlds, counts as early sci-fi.
Some of the themes the exhibit touches on are the idea of utopia and dystopia, future space travel, parallel universes, virtual reality and, finally, what happens when the world comes to an end. These themes are found in many different types of fiction and art and now they are being recognized for their sci-fi roots. The exhibit has displays that showcase early pulp novels with scantily clad pneumatic women on the covers but they also have a full section devoted to William Gibson and the rise of cyberpunk and the internet. There is even a rare copy of Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" on display.
But wait! There's more! Besides all the mindblowingly awesome pieces of literature on display, they also have a replica of a TARDIS! Yes, my friends, a TARDIS! Along with the beloved and almost mythical blue police box, they have also constructed a twenty foot tall replica of a Tripod from "War of the Worlds"!
This is, without any doubt in my mind, the most awesome exhibit I have ever heard about. I've saved the best for last, though. IT'S FREE!
I applaud the British Library for arranging this thought provoking and exciting exhibit! Recognizing science fiction for all it's done for literature and pop culture is incredibly important, I think. Too often it is shoved aside and labeled the folly of children and nerds. Too few realize how important the themes in sci-fi really are. Co-curator Andy Sawyer agrees with me.
The genre worked best in what he called its "metaphoric role," when the sci-fi setting serves as a mirror to our own. "It doesn't need to imitate our world or even look like our world," said Sawyer. "(But) science fiction works best when it's about our world."I could not agree more.
If you have the wonderful luck to be in London, the exhibit is open seven days a week to the public. Please visit their website for more information! Here is a handy article about the exhibit!