Sunday, 31 December 2006

the gathering storm; the acceptable face of sf

Churchill borrowed some of his biggest ideas from HG Wells. Winston Churchill was a “closet science-fiction fan” who borrowed the lines for one of his most famous speeches from H. G. Wells, a Cambridge academic has discovered. Dr Richard Toye, a Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge, has found that the phrase “The Gathering Storm” – used by Churchill to depict the rise of Hitler’s Germany – had in fact been conjured up by Wells decades earlier in The War Of The Worlds, which depicts an attack on Britain by Martians. And he has also spotted stark similarities between a speech Churchill made 100 years ago and Wells’ book A Modern Utopia. Tellingly, just two days before Churchill gave the speech in Glasgow on October 9 1906, he had also written to Wells to enthuse about the book, admitting “I owe you a great debt”.
- I saw this story in the Independent, but it's always hard to burrow into their subscription archive to link to articles, so here's the original press release on the Cambridge University website.

Of course, in the early twentieth century science fiction was perfectly acceptable subject matter for 'proper' writers. Earlier this month I read an SF collection, 17xInfinity, an old 60s paperback, which included stories by EM Forster and Rudyard Kipling.

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