Back to the Future of the Past

Exhibition at the British Library "Out of this World"

An upcoming exhibition at the British Library looks at our past visions of the future through the history of Science Fiction.

From technological utopias to robotic uprisings, Science Fiction gives us a pretty clear look at our own society.  Though seemingly about the future (or events that took place long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away), Science Fiction has always recorded the dreams and fears of the present day. 

We dream of new societies and new social structures that relieve poverty, hunger and disease; and we imagine new technologies that give us greater freedom and convenience.  And all of this shows up in Science Fiction.   But we project our nightmares there too.  Fears about the destruction of our planet or our society through technology, war or social changes.  Fears that our world or lifestyle will be invaded by aliens who want to destroy us.  Fears that through our experiments, we’ll create a super race of beings that rise up against us.  (That couldn’t be parents afraid of teenagers or “the terrible twos”, could it?) 

Science Fiction gives us our own Holodeck where we can safely try new ideas on for size and imagine varying visions of the future without risk to life and limb. 

An upcoming exhibition at the British Library, called Out of this World, presents a history of Science Fiction – in print, images and audio sources. 

“Science Fiction is revealed not merely as a popular literary genre but as a way of looking at today’s world and presenting alternatives: radical ideas about science, politics, society, the future… and the nature of reality itself.”

The exhibition runs from the 20th of May through the 25th of September, and includes rare pieces that date back as early as 1516 – reminding us that looking forward goes way back.