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The science in Science Fiction

This lecture explores how the fascinating symbiosis bewtween science and science-fiction shapes how we dream of the future.

Since its emergence in the 17th century science fiction has been a sustained, coherent and subversive check on the promises and pitfalls of science. In turn, invention and discovery have forced writers to confront the nature and limits of reality. This lecture explores how this fascinating symbiosis shapes what we see and do and how we dream of the future.
From the discovery of the alien universe in Johannes Kepler’s Somnium, through Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s warning on the double-edged sword of technology and change, to Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s polemic on the future of humankind in 2001: A Space Odyssey, science fiction emerges as a mode of thinking, complementary to the scientific method, argue Prof Mark Brake and Rev Neil Hook. Its field of interest is the gap between the new worlds uncovered by experimentation and exploration, and the fantastic worlds of the imagination. Its proponents find drama in the tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Its readers, many of them scientists and politicians, find inspiration in the contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary. This lecture promises to be a unique, provocative and compelling account of science fiction as the arbiter of progress.


Prof Mark Brake | talks | www
Rev Neil Hook | talks | www


Date and Time:

7 April 2009 at 7:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

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Tickets cost £8, £6 concessions, £4 Ri members

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