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Science fiction takes a bath

09/11/2006. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Fans of science fiction and readers in general can enjoy a talk on the relevance and writing of science fiction at a free public lecture at the University of Bath in the UK's Swindon, Wednesday 15th November 2006.

Stephen E Andrews, author of the recently published Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide 100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels, will draw on arguments and anecdotes gathered during his 20-year career in bookselling.

Andrews has been passionate about science fiction since a small boy and his lecture, How I learned to stop worrying and love science fiction, acknowledges his early concerns that he would be labelled by friends as, at best, eccentric and, at worst, a nerd.

He will explain why he thinks everyone who reads should be interested in science fiction, why some people cannot make sense of it, and how it has shaped literature of today.

"Some people literally can't understand science fiction," said Andrews. "You have to think more about what's being written and you can't make assumptions about the world around the characters. A phrase like 'her world exploded' has a very different meaning in science fiction to general fiction. Science fiction is about change in society. It's about the way the world is now and the way the world is going to be."

"People's idea of science fiction is derived from mass media, from films and television, but it's usually very different from science fiction in books. It gives a misleading image. Star Wars ,for example, is based on the kind of science fiction books being written around 1915, and science fiction writing has moved on tremendously since then. Most major general writers have written science fiction novels, even if they don't actually call them that, for example PD James and her novel The Children of Men, and the Kazuo Ishiguro bestseller Never Let Me Go."

Andrews is manager of Waterstone's at the University of Bath's Claverton campus. He has been writing about books and reading for publications in the book trade since 1989 and has commissioned work from authors such as Beryl Bainbridge, Christopher Priest and Ray Monk.

His Bloomsbury Good Reading guide provides readers with an introduction and an overview to the field, to show the range and diversity of science fiction. He is touring local libraries and bookshops this winter to discuss the genre.

Admission and parking for the lecture is free and people can just turn up on the evening. The lecture runs from 5.30pm until 6.30pm in the main hall at the Oakfield campus.

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