SF, MI5 and a Titanic Drought


News from our intrepid sci-fi Rev at the World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow is that the Brits are about to sweep clean this year’s Hugo Awards for the best science fiction writing of the year.

Among the shortlist is China Mieville , star of last night’s BBC 4 programme H G Wells and Me . China’s contribution to last night’s programme really did highlight the garbage most scientists talk by comparison with someone who knows their stuff. So, as Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen waffled pedantically and irrelevantly on about the scientific ineptitude of Wells’ suggestion, in War of the Worlds, that the Tripodic Martians could possibly have been laid low by bacteria, China got straight to the point: Wells’ text was “an unrelenting indictment of imperialism”. How would it feel for the invaders to be invaded? Indeed.

The BBC have finally caught on that SF is currently undergoing something of a renaissance. This is certainly true of our experience here at the Difference Engine. In the last few months alone we’ve acted as consultants to 3 different TV production companies making documentaries on SF, as well as London’s Science Museum whose imminent “Aliens” exhibition looks really promising.

Fans of our Orwellian future will be warmed by the latest news that MI5 are planning an increased presence in Wales. Not content with spyplanes watching our every move from above, it seems Welsh universities in particular are thought to be potential hotbeds of Islamic revolutionary activity. Perhaps they’ve got wind of CASE’s innovative Stars, Science and the Bomb module which, in part, looks at the increasingly complex interaction between science, technology, politics and the state. Barking up the wrong tree there, boys. One might respectfully suggest that recent activity may have more to do with unwarranted invasion in the face of deep public unpopularity

Finally, no water on Titan , then. Shame, no alien fish to gawp at for 10 seconds before hurriedly surfing channels back to Channel Four’s Big Brother to catch the latest insertion.

Look forward to next week’s contradictory finding of copious swimming pools on the planetary moon . . .

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