We're the Hub of the Universe; Liverpool Is Capital of Science Fiction. Deborah James Reports on a SciFi Hub Site

Article excerpt

Byline: Deborah James

HE success of the new Doctor Who series, Star Wars and Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy are evidence of a resurgence of Science Fiction in popular culture. But the genre has more to offer than just comic books and colourful characters, according to the creators of a new website launched by the University of Liverpool.

It is the world's first website dedicated to science fiction research and is the brainchild of a group of authors and academics in Merseyside.

The Sydney Jones library at Liverpool University holds the largest collection of science fiction books, periodicals and archives in Europe based around the library of the Science Fiction Foundation, deposited in 1993.

The University also runs the country's only Masters Degree in Science Fiction.

Acclaimed Wavertree-born horror writer Ramsay Campbell (works include The Doll Who Ate His Mother and The Face that Must Die, both set in Liverpool) launched the University of Liverpool SciFi Hub site with fellow authors Brian Aldiss (Hellonica Trilogy) and Stephen Baxter (The Time Ships and Voyage).

It is intended to boost serious research into science fiction, by providing a comprehensive research tool for students.

It contains a searchable database of work by some of the genre's most respected writers, including Liverpudlian 'cosmic philosopher' Olaf Stapledon, author of Star Maker and Cirius, alongside John Wyndham, Eric Frank Russell and John Brunner.

Collections also featured on the website include magazines like Amazing Stories, which featured HG Wells's War of the Worlds in 1932, and the original manuscript of John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. Mr Campbell, who lives in Wirral and whose novel The Count of 11 is inspired by the Liverpool telephone directory, is also president of the British Fantasy Society. Science Fiction Hub manager Roy McCready said: 'Liverpool has always been a hotbed of Science Fiction.

'The British Interplanetary Society was founded here and the Liverpool Science Fiction fan group was one of the first and most active in the country.

'Science fiction is not just about popular culture, it is a hugely important and valid area of study. …