Three screenings proposed by Bob Curwen, followed by discussion.

Monday, November 21, 7:00 pm
Screamers (Christian Duguay, 1998). Based on Philip Dick’s short story Second Variety (1953).

Tuesday, November 22, 7:00 pm
Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, 1991). Based on William Burroughs’ 1959 novel.

Wednesday, November 23, 7:00 pm
Zombi (George Romero, 1978).

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and Science Fiction
The postwar financial boom of the fifties and sixties in the US and Great Britain took place during the Cold War, at the peak of the arms race: the first motorways were being built, supermarkets were opening, skyscrapers were rising and the television was entering common use. In his book Everyday Life in the Modern World (published in 1968), the French sociologist Henri Lefebvre defined contemporary western society as a “beaurocratic society of directed consumption”. In that context, underground culture proliferated and writers such as J. G. Ballard, John Brunner and Philip K. Dick of the “new wave” of science fiction wrote surreal, satirical, speculative tales that echoed the concerns of an era when people were fearing the loss of their “individuality” in the new mass consumer culture. Science fiction aimed to experiment with ideas rather than attaining a supposedly realistic effect. Sci-fi authors were part of paperback culture, the paperback writers the Beatles sung of. Their books were sold at newspaper stands, stores, supermarkets, bus and train stations; they were a part of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Until well into the seventies, few “serious” bookstores would have sold science fiction.

Fifty years later, science fiction’s countercultural work seems to have been assimilated by today’s inoffensive cultural supermarket. Because of this, I’m interested in trying to represent some of the old, irreverent science fiction spirit, invisible in today’s film industry and its massive budgets, where sci-fi has been relegated to an exercise in escapism and diversion, as in Star Wars, Avatar, Minority Report or Dune.

Bob Curwen. Translator. Degree in Fine Arts with University College London. Has always been a keen reader of science fiction & horror fiction.