Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Science Fiction Britannia

Science Fiction Britannia
A treat for fans of British sci-fi, BBC Four are running a special season of programmes under the heading Science Fiction Britannia (it started yesterday, in fact).

In The Times, Ian Johns previews some of the treats in store. These include my own personal favourite, Blake's 7.
Like Star Trek, this had an interplanetary band championing democracy and freedom but in a far less shiny future. Blake, framed on a child molestation charge (!) by a fascist oligarchy, went on the run with a small group of disillusioned outlaws. Democracy and freedom were comprehensively trounced when our heroes died in a welter of mistrust and bullets.

Is such pessimism a peculiarly British trait? It certainly produced the two most enduring dystopian visions, both informed by class anxieties: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four with spy gadgets in every television and Stalinist/Nazi oppression; and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with its bred-to-order society controlled by sex and drugs.

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