WHAT EAUX ARE READING RIGHT NOW
Stephen Warrington: The Hydrogen Sonata. It’s Iain M Banks’ last ever sci-fi book – he died last year, sadly. It’s the last novel in his Culture series, and it’s about the idea of 'subliming', which is when a civilisation decides, collectively, that it’s reached its natural end-point. The civilisation are beyond death and wealth and knowledge, and they decide to transcend into beyond-real space and become part of a consciousness.
Ben Crook: It's the exact opposite solution to UKIP’s.
EAUX'S FAVOURITE SCI-FI SOUNDTRACK ARTIST
Ben Crook: Edward Artemiev did soundtracks to Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris. They're kind of traditional, not just spacey synth. Artemiev’s stuff was all recorded before computers – it's the sound of electricity. Like Tarkovsky, he has a very Russian view of space travel and the future. There are no western sounds.
MOST MEMORABLE DYSTOPIAN VISIONS
Ben Crook: JG Ballard and Philip K Dick – their future is already here. It's old hat, almost. They're the two guys who got it right. Phillip K Dick had the fantastical twist, whileBallard had more of a gritty inevitability about his writing.
Sian Ahern: For me it’s Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Or Kurt Vonnegut. I really like (Vonnegut's) Galápagos – the idea that we all become human-like forms with very small brains and fins, swimming in the sea, bashing into each other. Completely devolved.
THE SCI-FI WORK THAT MOST INFLUENCED POP CULTURE
Sian Ahern: It’s gotta be 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love the space-race era, and that film set minds whirring for designers of the time, and basically the whole population, about the possibilities of the future, technology and space exploration.
Ben Crook: It's interesting because that film, which was made before anyone landed on the moon, has created a whole language for science fiction – costumes, space travel etc. What a clever man that Kubrick was.
Stephen Warrington: The Star Gate scene is one of the most incredible pieces of filmmaking.
Stephen Warrington: I remember being really affected by The Fatal Eggs, a book by Mikhail Bulgakov about genetic engineering. It's very over-the-top, but some of its subject matter is in the world already.
Ben Crook: That was in the 20s, when he was allowed to write in Russia.
Sian Ahern: He was a brilliant brain with thoughts he wasn't allowed to be having.
Ben Crook: I remember when Blade Runner came out in the cinema, a family friend gave me a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with the film's cover. I was ridiculously young, primary school age, and couldn't understand 50% of the words, but that tore me apart. ‘Wait a minute, are we real? Are androids amongst us?’
SCI-FI LONDON ARCHITECTURE
Ben Crook: I find something really sinister about the Shard, a building built to be seen from everywhere. I find that quite grotesque, especially as it's not a public building. There are a lot of buildings in London that are massive monuments to aggressive capitalist corporations.
Sian Ahern: So the corporations can look down on us physically, not just metaphorically.
Ben Crook: It's like when they rush forward in time in The Time Machine. These lovely concrete brutalist buildings from the 60s, which were positive ideas of the future, are getting demolished to make big glass things. And a lot of them date very quickly, they're unproven as architecture. I think in the next five years, the whole city of London's gonna be those black glass, blue LED buildings. And we'll be able to see them from everywhere.
EAUX'S EARLIEST MEMORIES OF SCI-FI
Ben Crook: When I was a kid, during the cold war, there'd be things on the BBC telling us what to do in a nuclear bomb. And there was one show by Barry Hines called Threads, set in Yorkshire after the bomb had dropped. People were getting sick, walking around like atomic zombies. They were gonna die, and there was absolutely no hope – it wasn't sensationalist, it was just Yorkshiremen with their eyebrows falling off. I don't know if people feel that way any more, but it was a very real threat when I was young.
EAUX'S UNSUNG HERO OF SCI-FI MUSIC
Ben Crook: Sun Ra is a big hero of mine. What I really like about him is while he did lots of noise and jazz stuff, he also did all these records in the 70s with drum machines, and obviously played synthesisers. He took civil rights to the point of ostracising himself even more, and saying he was Saturn. And he's still alive; he’s still flying the spacewaves.
THE WEIRDEST SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESIS
Sian Ahern: The holographic principle is a theory that suggests we're all basically being projected from a flat cosmos, like the strip on a credit card.
Ben Crook: There's a diamond theory now, too. It's moved on from holograms. I don't really understand how that's possible.
Sian Ahern: People like to think that there's a creator, there's somebody shining the torch. It's an attractive prospect.
Ben Crook: But science fiction's the opposite. It’s about the future and knowledge, rather than saying, 'Who's the big guy in the clouds?'
THE WORST SCI-FI CLICHE
Stephen Warrington: Lasers. And transporters.