Anthony Burgess was just ten years old when he saw Fritz Lang’s groundbreaking fantasy Metropolis on its release in Manchester in 1927. This, combined with his experience of the celebrated total eclipse of the sun in the same year, left a profound impression on him. Burgess remained fascinated by science fiction throughout his life.
Burgess would sometimes claim that writing science fiction was not a worthwhile pursuit. It is not written by artists, but by ‘a laboratory-man chain-smoking over a weekend typewriter […] You practice the genre if you have fancy but no imagination.’
Yet Burgess’s own imaginative writing contains strong science fiction elements. A Clockwork Orange (1962) presents a dystopian futuristic world and the protagonist Alex is subjected to mind-control technology; and The Wanting Seed (1962) is set in a megalopolis in which overpopulation has brought the world to the brink of collapse. Puma, his novel and screenplay from the 1970s is about a rogue planet hurtling towards Earth; and his sci-fi novel The End of the World News appeared in 1982.
To explore Anthony Burgess’s complex relationship with science fiction join us for our special Future Fictions season of events, including films, new music and literature and more.
Future Fictions Exhibition
From the cinematic futurism of the 1920s to the literary dystopias of the 1970s, this exhibition explores Anthony Burgess’s complex relationship with science fiction.
10am to 3pm weekdays and in the evenings during events.
Humanity is doomed in Anthony Burgess’s future-set dystopia, published in its original form for the first time.
Launching 8 November 2018
End of the World Film Season
Themed around apocalypses caused by interplanetary bodies crashing into Earth. Including the films When Worlds Collide (1951, 19 November), Meteor (1979, 26 November) and Armageddon (1998, 3 December).
A concert and spoken word show by No Dice Collective and the Writing Squad of new classical apocalyptic music by some of the north’s best new composers and writers.
7 December, 7pm – book now.