Dominic Sandbrook explores the most innovative and imaginative of all genres – science fiction. He is joined by leading writers and film-makers, who tell the inside story of their best-known works.
Part 1: Space
Dominic looks at science fiction’s enduring fascination with outer space, from Jules Verne’s pioneering 19th-century vision of a voyage to the moon to the galaxy far, far away of Star Wars.
Along the way we learn what Star Trek has in common with the British navy, the deep sea inspiration for Avatar, how Ursula K Le Guin captured the 1960s sexual revolution in her acclaimed novel The Left Hand of Darkness, how Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey seem so believable, and why a man in a dressing gown became one of science fiction’s best-loved heroes in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Among the interviewees are William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and author Neil Gaiman.
Part 2: Invasion
Dominic looks at science fiction’s fascination with aliens. But what if we don’t meet aliens in space and instead they come to earth – to conquer us?
Dominic and leading writers and film-makers look at science fiction’s obsession with alien invasion, from all-out assault to sinister hidden threats, and how it has reflected real-life anxieties – whether they be the challenge to Victorian imperial power of HG Wells’s War of the Worlds, the Cold War-era paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or more recent concerns about racism and immigration in District 9.
And we celebrate the most famous alien invaders of all – the Daleks.
Among the contributors are David Tennant and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) and special effects maestros Phil Tippett (Jurassic Park) and Doug Trumbull (Close Encounters).
Part 3: Robots
Dominic gets to science fiction’s obsession with robots.
The idea of playing God and creating artificial life has fascinated us since the earliest days of science fiction – but what if our creations turn against us?
Dominic, leading writers and film-makers follow our hopes and fears from the first halting steps of Frankenstein’s monster, via the threats of Doctor Who’s Cybermen and The Terminator, the provocative ideas of Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica, to the worlds of cyberspace and the Matrix, where humanity and technology merge.
Among the interviewees are Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), actor Peter Weller (RoboCop), producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator), Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker (Star Wars), actor Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) and novelist William Gibson.
Part 4: Time
Dominic considers science fiction’s most alluring theme – time travel.
Having the power to change the past or see the future is a deep-seated human fantasy, and writers and film-makers have embraced its possibilities. From HG Wells’s pioneering scientist in The Time Machine to Back to the Future’s Marty McFly and Doctor Who’s titular Time Lord, we’ve been presented with a host of colourful time travellers and their time machines. But is there always a price to be paid for meddling with the timeline?
Among the contributors are David Tennant, Karen Gillan and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), actor Christopher Lloyd and screenwriter Bob Gale (Back to the Future), actor Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) and novelist Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife).