Classic Scifi & Cult TV
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Viewpoint - where science and fiction collide

Often, a writer attempts to create in his writing what he imagines may one day become reality. Space travel is an example that was for years deemed impossible by many people, as, earlier, the idea of heavier than air flying machines had been derided. As late as 1946, Arthur C Clarke's vision of a network of satellites circling the globe was dismissed by many as being very far-fetched.

In some cultures, farsighted visionaries have even been persecuted for their daring imaginings - Gallileo's work was considered the wildest fiction by his opponents at the time. Today, as we learn more and more of the real world, fact and fiction become ever more closely intertwined. The work of Stephen Hawking has all the interest and excitement of the best science fiction.

The work of H G Wells and Jules Verne continues to be enormously popular. In the early part of this century, their names were synonymous with science fiction. Wells had a parallel career as a novelist, and considered his "alternate" output a means of financing his other work. The depth and insight extent in almost all his novels is not found in his science fiction: the strength of the latter is in his vision, rather than any philosophical, or psychological unravelling. Even with the sophistication and advanced knowledge of the 1990s, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man are never out of print.

Recent advances in the field of medicine have brought us closer to the world of Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde, which has exercised continuing fascination throughout the world since its publication. Stevenson's themes have been a source of inspiration to generations of writers in this field.
The later half of this century has seen the development of some towering talents in the realm of S.F. As well as the very popular Clarke, Blish and Heinemann, Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick have opened up new areas. Asimov took up Karel Kopec's idea of a robot and created a magnificently realised universe of androids, now built upon by many followers. Closely associated with this is the field of A.I. - artificial intelligence. The computing genious Alan Turing wrote that, had the same resources been devoted to A.I. as had been devoted to numerical-based programming, we might be as far advanced in the one field as the other.

The present decade has seen an apparently exponential availability of science fiction. Both in the UK and abroad, backers have recognised it as a money spinner, and consequently are prepared to put funds into film, TV and books. This may be traced back to the sixties and seventies, when in a sequence of events which (if not well-documented) would be considered improbable fiction - the fans refused to accept the loss of Star Trek. A decade later, the enormous success of Star Wars, combining elements of many other genres, gave further impetus to the popularity of science fiction.

After having been for years separated from the mainstream of literature, science fiction now comes from surprising sources. The late, great, Dennis Potter used the form for his final work. I held my breath waiting to see his last two series, written whilst he knew he was dying from cancer, but they both matched up to the astonishing standard he had set in the sixties, and (with few exceptions) maintained since then. Cold Lazarus, and his penultimate work, Karaoke, were the first works ever to be shown on both BBC and commercial television within a few weeks, carrying out Potter's expressed wish that this should be so. They were also shown at the National Film Theatre prior to transmission.

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