9 terrific British sci-fi novels of the 1960s




Here are 9 of the best 60s British sci-fi novels, featuring thrillers, alternative histories, apocalyptic tales and more...

Read our celebration of 8 amazing British sci-fi novels, here.

Arthur C Clarke once wrote: "Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

British science fiction of the 1960s gave readers both versions of that terror in novels set on Earth or in far away universes. For those writing about Earth, our own humanity was up for questioning like never before; are we on the path to our own destruction, or do we hold the key to our own salvation? For the novelists who threw all earthly troubles away and created entire universes in mind-boggling detail, they were still reflecting on the problems everyone faced back home: a generation who wanted freedom like never before, faith being shaken in the government, and big shifts in societal attitudes all contributed to an era where many talented writers felt they could best comment through the genre of science fiction.

Here's a look at ten novels that give a flavour of what an varied time it was in science fiction writing, with some authors remaining in the 'pulp' feel of earlier times to create fresh space adventures, and others beginning to experiment with form and literary devices to take Sf in an unexpected, and highly influential, direction...

The Drowned World - Jg Ballard (1962)

Ballard brought something very different to science fiction with his style of detached, literary writing which is cold and intelligent and uncomfortable. You may not like his characters but his visions of the future draw you in and stay in your mind. They feel as if they have a truth about them.

The Drowned World is the story of Dr Robert Kerans, a biologist who has been sent to work in the submerged remains of what was once a great city. But water has covered most of the world due to climate change, and although the tower blocks still rise above the lagoons this is a place that belongs to the insects, the lizards, and no longer to humanity. A strange lethargy, born of the heat, infects Kerans and his co-workers, giving them troubling dreams. It infuses the book, too, and makes this a vivid, sensual and disturbing novel.

Transit - Edmund Cooper (1964)

Our hero Richard Avery finds a glowing crystal in a park, and upon touching it is whisked away to some unknown location where he finds himself becoming the subject of experimentation. Placed upon a desert island with two women and one other man, he has to find a way to survive whatever nature, and his captors, throw at him. Thank goodness they are provided with cigarettes, booze and pornography, or else the whole thing would be unbearable.

Out of all the books on this list, this one feels most like a product of its time to me. It's like Kurt Vonnegut wrote an episode of The Prisoner - a page-turning survival story that's part wish-fulfilment, part social experiment, and it entertains brilliantly, never flagging, and never demanding that we take it too seriously.

A Wrinkle In The Skin - John Christopher (1962)

The title of the novel comes from a moment early on when chat at a dinner party turns to the subject of recent earthquakes - "One or two wrinkles in the skin of an orange - the orange very big and the wrinkles very small," says one character, dismissively, while enjoying the benefits of civilised society. But it turns out that the wrinkles aren't so small after all.

John Christopher was great at turning mundane moments into chilling ones, and there is a brilliant description of the stillness that pervades before the big earthquake hits. But afterwards Guernsey - the home of horticulturalist Matthew Cotter - is no longer a safe haven of polite people and fine dining. The survivors become desperate, and the story turns into a journey through an unrecognisable landscape that juxtaposes so sharply with that first chapter. It's a bleak read, and a worrying one; would civilization so easily collapse at the first sign of a mere wrinkle?

The Doomsday Men - Kenneth Bulmer (1968)


Carver is a Ridforce agent; he has been trained, using new technology, to enter the mind of murder victims and replay their last memories to the moment of death, revealing the killer. He runs the risk of losing his own thoughts and memories with each case, but Carver is good at his job, and the department trusts in his ability to find the truth. Until he enters the mind of a victim and finds a troubling memory - why is Carver's own teenage daughter, ensconced miles away in an expensive boarding school, present as a high-class prostitute in the victim's memories?

A police procedural sci-fi thriller, The Doomsday Men reminds me of Mad Men tied with Minority Report. Slick, full of manly attitude, and yet dealing with crimes within the mind in which nothing the protagonist sees can be trusted, it's a slippery fish of a read that ties itself into too neat a bow in the end, perhaps. Still, it's a heck of an adventure, involving a lot of corpses, double bluffs, and even a ticking bomb.

Pavane - Keith Roberts (1968)

Alternative history books are hard to do well, and almost impossible to do with as much delicacy and complexity as Pavane. It starts with one question - what if Elizabeth I had died earlier and the Catholic Church had reasserted its hold on England?

Jump forward a few hundred years and we have a country without electricity, without equal rights, and with a reliance on the steam train that dominates the first section of the novel and makes this feel, initially, like steampunk. But Pavane doesn't stay within one element of this alternative future; it gives us a number of wonderful characters throughout society and interweaves their stories to make an intricate pattern. Cause and effect is a complex business which doesn't always get a lot of consideration in science fiction. I can't think of a book that does it as well as Pavane.

Chocky - John Wyndham (1960)

In 2008 Dreamworks acquired the film rights to Chocky and it's not hard to see why it would appeal; the tale of a boy who has an imaginary friend that perhaps isn't imaginary after all, this is science fiction at its most personal and inclusive, filled with warmth for the situation and the family it describes.

If you're in the mood for a more optimistic read, then either Chocky or The Trouble With Lichen (the only two novels Wyndham wrote in the 1960s) will fit the bill perfectly. They have humour and decency, but they still manage to raise troubling questions about how humans often assume a mastery over the world, and why we struggle to overcome our own preconceptions.

Greybeard - Brian Aldiss (1964)

The worlds of future fictions often belong to the young and Greybeard is a very effective counterpoint - imagining a time when humanity ceases to reproduce after a spike in radiation, and there will be no more children to inherit the Earth. Instead there's only Greybeard and others like him, elderly men and women in a society reverting to feudalism and superstition as they die out.

The non-linear story documents Greybeard's life, revealing factions and forces that created this last generation. It's a reading experience of far more light, humour and beauty than this subject matter would suggest. It also reaches some really interesting conclusions about humanity. A world without children is not a new theme; a number of books tackle the same ground, but Greybeard is, I think, the most surprising and insightful of the lot.

The Hieros Gamos Of Sam And An Smith - Josephine Saxton (1969)

A boy walks through a strange land, perhaps a post-apocalyptic one, and yet it holds no threat for him. There are no wild animals, no radiation, and when he hears a baby crying in the wilderness he has no fear of approaching. The mother is dead, moments after giving birth, and the boy takes the baby girl, and begins to provide for her with no great sense of importance. The book follows the boy as he raises the girl, and we find ourselves examining the nature of life, of sex, of childhood and parenthood, afresh.

A short and marvellous book, I really can't think of anything else quite like it. It proves that science fiction is a brilliant genre for examining deep psychological issues precisely because it can be free from the demands of realism. Also, the ending is my favourite of all the books on this list.

A Fall Of Moondust - Arthur C Clarke (1961)

Hms Selene cruises the Sea of Thirst, a vast bowl of powdery dust on the moon. The trip offers a thrill to those who are tired of exploring Earth and can afford the ticket price, but these travellers get more than they bargained for when the Selene is stranded deep within the dust. Can rescuers reach them?

A race against time, it would have been easy to make A Fall Of Moondust into a claustrophobic, if predictable, tale of human interplay between the trapped tourists. But what I love is that Clarke doesn't do that. The poor victims play cards and form book clubs and provide the light relief at times, because this is a very serious exploration of how space tourism might look and what technological problems might await us on the moon. Published eight years before man set foot on a lunar landscape and found it wouldn't swallow us up in dust, this book is a good reminder of how visionary science fiction could be when dealing with unknowns, and of how far our understanding has come since then.

See related  8 amazing British sci-fi novels of the 1950s 15 scary novels to give you the creeps 10 strange novels of the British countryside 15 underappreciated books: sci-fi, fantasy, horror fiction 13 geeky beach read recommendations Books & Comics Feature Aliya Whiteley 1960s Sci-Fi novels 13 Jun 2016 - 06:00 A Fall Of Moondust Dune Transit The Drowned World The Doomsday Men A Wrinkle In The Skin Chocky Greybeard Pavane The Hieros Gamos Of Sam And An Smith
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Method Studios gets animated talking about recent hires

With dust settling from the Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy, two former employees have been hired by Method Studios, Erik-Jan de Boer and Keith Roberts as well as James Jacobs. “We are thrilled to have Erik, James and Keith joining our team,” stated Christian Kubsch, Method’s President in a press release issued by the company. “Their arrival couldn’t have come at a better time, as Method Studios is in the process of expanding the character animation talent across our global network.”

Erik-Jan de Boer, James Jacobs and Keith Roberts“Joining Method presents a great opportunity for me to be part of a multi-facility visual effects house,” remarked Erik-Jan de Boer who was a key member of the Oscar-winning visual effects team responsible for Life of Pi (2012). “There are some impressive projects on the horizon and working on these in an artist-driven environment is an exciting prospect.” de Boer who will
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Cute Can Only Get You So Far On ‘Sytycd’ — Sorry, But You Had To Go, Alexie Agdeppa!

Someone had to go — and Alexie definitely deserved to be the first eliminated contestant from So You Think You Can Dance this season!

There were group hugs, silly dancing and lots of tears on So You Think You Can Dance’s first elimination show of the season June 17 when jazz dancer Alexie Agdeppa got the boot — but honestly, she deserved to go!

Despite the critiques the 26-year-old jazz dancer received from the judges, I was unimpressed by her hip-hop performance with Twitch. That said, it was sad to see her go, especially after finding out how many times she had tried out for the show (Four in total), and she Was truly adorable, but as judge Mia Michaels said, “cute” can only get you so far!

Although Alexie’s elimination wasn’t all that surprising, watching Cristina Santana having to dance for her life Was a shock. She became a
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So You Think You Can Dance Elimination: Alexie Agdeppa

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Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA title, setting off celebrations throughout the City of Angels. It was a bittersweet night for a former Laker Girl, however.

Alexie Agdeppa as she became the first So You Think You Can Dance contestant eliminated by the voters this season, after the 26-year-old cutie's spunk couldn't save her.

The three judges, who unanimously chose to send her home, didn't foresee a long run for the effervescent former cheerleader, even though we were a bit surprised at the decision.

After the Top 11 performances, we thought Melinda Sullivan and Adechike Torbert stood the worst chances of advancing, with Cristina Santana potentially at risk as well.

Melinda and Cristina joined Alexie in the bottom three.

It was one and done for Alexie Agdeppa and Twitch Boss.

The top 11 opened the show dressed in white and gold attire, with the guys outshining the girls
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'Sytycd': Justin Bieber to premiere 'Somebody to Love' video during results show

We'll lose a "So You Think You Can Dance" contestant, but we'll gain a Justin Bieber. It's up to you if you think that's a fair trade.

Biebs' new video for his "Somebody to Love" remix featuring his mentor Usher will make its world premiere during the live results show of "So You Think You Can Dance" Thursday night, June 17 at 9 p.m. Et.

The video is actually a good fit with the dance show. We've already seen some behind-the-scenes footage of the video in which he shows off his new dance moves alongside former "America's Best Dance Crew" competitors. Supposedly Biebs acquits himself well with the new styles he learned such as tutting. We'll reserve judgment until we see.

[Update:] And although Bieber himself won't be present, Usher will take to the stage to sing his hit "Omg." In addition, Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts will perform a  piece from
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Come Fly Away Visits Sytycd, 6/17

The critically acclaimed new Broadway musical Come Fly Away will be featured on the Fox television program "So You Think You Can Dance" Thursday, June 17th. Tony Award nominees Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts (nominated for Movin' Out) will perform the show stopping number "That's Life" during the program's first live results show of the season, which airs nationally at 9pm (8pm central).
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So You Think You Can Dance Top 11 Finalists Revealed

The top 11 finalists of So You Think You Can Dance have been revealed. Now it is game on. Here is the official word from Fox:

So You Think You Can Dance" Top 11 Finalists Revealed

"Meet The Top 11" Special To Showcase Finalists Thursday, June 10, On Fox

Finalists Compete Live For First Time With All-star Partners

Wednesday, June 16

Special Performances by R&B Superstar Usher and Dancers Karine Plantadit & Keith Roberts on Live Results Show Thursday, June 17

After thousands of auditions featuring some of the best dancers ever to try out, the judges of So You Think You Can Dance announced tonight that Season Seven will have 11 finalists instead of 10. The Top 11 finalists are Alexie Agdeppa, Billy Bell, Kent Boyd, Lauren Froderman, Ashley Galvan, Robert Roldan, Jose Ruiz, Cristina Santana, Melinda Sullivan, Adfchik� Torbert and Alex Wong.

Get to know the new finalists and their dance styles when each of the Top
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A Salute to the 64th Annual Tony Awards

Though the economy was still in dire straits, Broadway carried on during the 2009-10 season, with visits from such high-voltage marquee names as Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liev Schreiber, and Scarlett Johansson. A little group called Green Day rocked Broadway's world with the stage adaptation of the band's hit album "American Idiot," Twyla Tharp paid tribute to Frank Sinatra in "Come Fly Away," and Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins formed a "Million Dollar Quartet." "Fela!," Bill T. Jones' combination dance party, concert, and musical biography, transferred to the Main Stem from its Off-Broadway run, as did Geoffrey Nauffts' tender and moving play "Next Fall." "Red" and "Time Stands Still" offered searing portraits of artists coping with crises, while Sarah Ruhl's "In the Next Room or the vibrator play" captured the repressive Victorian era. Broadway fare also
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'Come Fly Away' Leads Astaire Noms

"Come Fly Away" leads the nominees for this year's Fred and Adele Astaire Awards. The combination of Twyla Tharp's inventiveness and Frank Sinatra's croon prompted seven nominations, more than any other production.The awards will be presented June 7 at a gala the Gerald W. Lynch Theater in New York. Director and choreographer Kenny Ortega is to receive the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award. The evening will feature performances by Ronald K. Brown's dance company Evidence; Tony Dovolani of "Dancing With the Stars"; and the Tony-nominated Lee Roy Reams with women who once danced with Astaire. The complete list of nominees is below.Best ChoreographerBill T. Jones, "Fela"Twyla Tharp, "Come Fly Away"Sergio Trujillo, "Memphis"Marcia Milgrom Dodge, "Ragtime" Steven Hoggett, "American Idiot"Best Male DancerCharlie Neshyba-Hodges, "Come Fly Away"Keith Roberts, "Come Fly Away"John Selya, "Come Fly Away"Maksim Chmerkovskiy, "Burn the Floor"Male Ensemble, "Memphis" (Brad Bass,
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Wanda Sykes Discusses Late-Night with The Wanda Sykes Show

The comedienne talks about what's coming up on her late-night Fox program Wanda Sykes has joined the late-night talk-show fold with her new series The Wanda Sykes Show, which airs every Saturday night at 11 Pm Et on Fox. This Saturday is the second of seven consecutive original episodes and Sykes recently held a conference call to discuss what's coming up on her show. Here's what she had to say.

I just wanted to ask you, you have the opportunity to get any guest you want on your show. Which guest do you not want on the show?

Wanda Sykes: Not want? Honestly, it's not like we've been able to just get any guest. We've just been lucky to get like Sade, who I really, really wanted. After having her on the show, I can't really rule anyone out or say that someone I'm looking forward or don't want to talk to.
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