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Sorry, gang.  I'm afraid we have another Bye Week here at the SF/F Book Club.  I'm starting a new third shift job and it's thrown my weekend schedule out of whack.  But I'll have the next part of our look at The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy finished next week.

So let's take this opportunity to use this as a discussion thread.  There have been a number of British science fiction series over the years.  Doctor Who is the best-known.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, although the TV series was not as good as the radio version, certainly counts.  What are some of your favorite slices of British SF and why?


Which is your favorite British TV series?

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| 59 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  So You Want to Rule the World (5+ / 0-)

    The name was close to that - funniest game show I've ever seen on BBC.

    "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

    by MsGrin on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 06:43:14 PM PDT

  •  I loved Red Dwarf. Less sci-fi and more (14+ / 0-)

    lowbrow comedy.

    But a couple of really well done episodes.  Like the Kennedy assassination episode and the one with the Despair Squid.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 06:53:48 PM PDT

  •  There was a sci-fi/comedy called hyperdrive (5+ / 0-)

    starring nick frost (simon pegg's buddy in Shaun of the Dead) which was very very funny.

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns. --- John Oliver

    by voroki on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:08:13 PM PDT

  •  What about 'The Prisoner'? (13+ / 0-)

    My top three would be The Prisoner, Doctor Who, and Blake's Seven.

    "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

    by matching mole on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:37:45 PM PDT

  •  red dwarf rocks (10+ / 0-)

    i just finished watching the first 9 series of red dwarf, it is excellent. yes it has a lot of low brow comedy, but as the series went on it took many more sci fi elements.

    i havnt seen an episode of UFO in 30 years

    space 1999 is an odd one....i watched it when it first ran in syndication in the US, but I was young...8 or 9. but what i like about the show is how it was premiered to run opposite of dr who just as a new comer was taking on the role in 1974. But ive seen space 1999 since, have the first few on kinda sucks really bad.

    hitchhikers guide was fun

    i only ever saw maybe 3 episodes of blake's 7...seemed ok

    never saw thunderbirds, what the hell is supercar? ive gone looking for quartermass but cant find it.

    torchwood was excellent, though i didnt care that much for the 4th season with showtime. but the third season is just amazing.

    doctor who blows them all out of the water and its the 50th anniversary this year.

    I cant tell if its a West End musical or Marxism in action.

    by Evolution on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:44:51 PM PDT

    •  Supercar was the first SF series (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, Brecht, RiveroftheWest

      produced by AP Films, the same company later responsible for Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and UFO. All but the last were filmed using marionettes. Gary Anderson, one of the company's founders, eventually went on to produce Space 1999.

      You can start checking out Quatermass here.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:44:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tomorrow People. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

    Cute, silly, and low-tech.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 08:39:57 PM PDT

  •  Torchwood is good, well the 1st 2 yrs... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

    Gwen is a great female role model, Jack is just gorgeous whichever way you look at it... good SF story lines, too!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:21:09 PM PDT

  •  If I'd known Supercar was going to get zip (6+ / 0-)

    I'd have voted for it out of early childhood loyalty. All I can say is at age 3-4 it was as compelling as George Reeves' Adventures of Superman. With the exception of Fireball XL5 it pretty much epitomized supermarionation for me.

    I had to vote for the good Doctor though, because I got hooked by Tom Baker's incarnation. I'd seen an episode of John Pertwee's run several years earlier and couldn't figure out the appeal. Something about Baker's humor and eccentric goofiness really hit the spot for me.

    Blake's Seven gets the runner up's position. Imagine my surprise years later upon arriving at Gatwick airport and discovering that the entire place had the same clunky ambiance of that series sets and models.

    I never saw any of the original Quatermass broadcasts so I can't judge those but Hammer's Five million Years to Earth, the movie adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit, is a favorite of mine. Who needs Von Daniken or "Ancient Astronauts"?

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:24:21 PM PDT

    •  I was a child living in England when Tom Baker (8+ / 0-)

      rode the tardis, and was a loyalist for the next three decades. He is to Dr. Who what Sean Connery is to Bond.

      When they rebooted the series, they spliced the Baker DNA (adventurous stories + quirky charisma + dry wit) with tighter writing and a larger effects budget.

      And then, with the 5th series of the reboot, Dr. Who entered its golden age. With Steven Moffat as show runner and Matt Smith as the Doctor, it's the best it's ever been. Smith has been winning acting awards that no Doctor won before, and rightly so.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:02:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I saw Five million Years to Earth when I was a boy (6+ / 0-)

      On the usual late-night SF movie local TV. It blew me away with it's quality.

      Here is a quote:

      Professor Bernard Quatermass: The will to survive is an odd phenomenon. Roney, if we found out our own world was doomed, say by climatic changes, what would we do about it?

      Dr. Mathew Roney: Nothing, just go on squabbling like usual.

      Professor Bernard Quatermass: Yes, but if we weren't men?

  •  Sapphire and Steel (4+ / 0-)

    I am not sure if this ITV series was ever broadcast in the United States. I found it very compelling, when it was originally broadcast. I felt the same way when I re-watched it on You Tube a few years ago.

    Not many TV programmes were made, but it was a series devoid of the sentimentality which sometimes devalues popular culture. David McCallum and Joanna Lumley played the lead roles well and the writing was extraordinary.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:37:28 AM PDT

    •  Another I considered (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Brecht

      I've never seen Sapphire and Steel, but I've heard good things about it.  And I've always liked David McCallum.  I was considering it for the poll, but when I actually typed it in, I forgot.

      Sorry, David.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:18:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I voted for Blakes Seven... (4+ / 0-)

    ... but I'd like to open this up to more than just TV. British Sci-Fi is a very rich vein to mine, and looking at just TV is a disservice.

    So what is your favourite book/book series in British Sci Fi?

     Personally, I like David Wingrove's 'Chung Kuo' series (and I'm dying to see what's going to happen with the re-publication of this, with additional chapters/stories), and whilst not strictly Sci-Fi, Moorcock's 'Jerry Cornelius' books are a personal favourite.

    •  Brit Lit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Brecht

      British SF has a much stronger literary tradition than American SF does, I suspect because there were British writers creating speculative fiction before SF became walled off into the realm of Cheesy Pulp Trash.

      I limited my poll to television mainly for the sake of quickness; I have a greater familiarity with British SF on TV than I do with the broad range of British literary SF.  

      But you are correct that the subject deserves at least a diary of it's own.

      I have in the back of my mind plans to do a series on Michael Moorcock eventually; and possibly on C.S. Lewis, although that's more because of my own familiarity with him than because I feel he's an important name in science fiction.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:28:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  C. S. Lewis's SF isn't the most significant (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper, WB Reeves

        (isn't it just the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy?). But his ideas are probably influential on SF/Fantasy, because every British author will have read him in their childhood, and those early seeds tend to stick and shape. For example, from The Magician's Nephew, there are his very memorable account of the dying planet where the White Witch comes from; the piece of a lamppost which grows a new streetlamp in the just-being-born Narnia; and the yellow and green rings which allow you to travel through the inter-dimensional pools.

        Moorcock certainly had a rich and diverse imagination.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:30:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Lewis and Fantasy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, WB Reeves

          I've read that Lewis was highly regarded by some some quarters of SF fandom in the US because he was a vocal advocate of science fiction at a time when Sci-Fi was still regarded as "that crazy Buck Rogers stuff".  He personally did not care much for the type of Hard Science Fiction which he called "Engineer's Stories", but that, he said was a matter of personal taste and not an indictment of their quality.  He saw value in all imaginative fiction.

          In addition to his Space Trilogy, The first book of which came out of an agreement with J.R.R. Tolkien to each attempt a science fiction story, Lewis also wrote a few SF short stories which are collected in a volume titled "On Other Worlds", edited by Walter Hooper.

          But Lewis has undoubtably had a greater impact on fantasy and has influenced such writers as J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Phillip Pullman (although in a negative way).

          Yes, I do need to write a diary on Lewis.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:45:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "He saw value in all imaginative fiction." (3+ / 0-)

            Lewis is an intelligent, original and flexible thinker. I even enjoy most of his Christian philosophizing.

            I guess he has his doldrums. People complain about the childishness and stereotypes in A Horse and his Boy, and I found The Last Battle heavy-handed. Perhaps he was writing down for children.

            Now that you mention it, I think Pullman suffers from a similar unevenness, with perhaps less sterling ideas to back him up. The Golden Compass blew me away, but I thought the trilogy declined from there.

            Gaiman's got a magnificent imagination, and immense charm.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 06:36:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not to be disagreeable but (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Brecht, quarkstomper

              I read The Screwtape Letters while in grade school and was fascinated. I re-read it when I was a young adult and was repulsed. Good preparation for reading Letters from the Earth though. I still think Screwtape is one of the great characters of 20th century English lit.

              My older brother was the C.S. Lewis fan. He read them all: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength.  

              I don't know why I never picked them up from him. He's the reason I read Screwtape to begin with, not to mention Brave New World and Citizen of the Galaxy.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:29:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Seems to me you're expressing an informed opinion, (3+ / 0-)

                which I find more thought-provoking than disagreeable.

                Which is sort of how I feel about C.S. Lewis, and why I enjoy reading him even when our opinions differ. A lot of Christian writing has some smugness in its own certitude, but I feel Lewis is most interested in open and fair debate.

                Huxley's always very good for ideas, too.

                But it's a while since I read Lewis. I found The Screwtape Letters extremely amusing and engaging as a teenager, but haven't looked back at them since.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:13:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Moorcock (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

        I'll look forward to the Moorcock series. He's just done so damn much, and in such a wide variety of genres.

  •  The Prisoner (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

    would be my choice.  Still enjoy watching it.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:44:10 PM PDT

  •  Fred Hoyle wrote some excellent stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

    My personal favorite is his 1966 historical-musical romance October the First is Too Late, in which the earth is broken down into time-zone present realities differing by thousands and hundreds of thousands of years (europe is still fighting WWI,  North America is maybe around 1580, the then-Soviet Union is sometime in a remote future where the earh has been fused into glass, and Greece is--well, you know), and in which the protagonist, a pianist-composer, ends up in a musical contest with Apollo, which he ties by playing Schubert. It sounds hokey but Hoyle (who was Professor of Mathematical Philosophy at Oxford) gives the theoretical framework some of his best British pipe-puffing. A good deal of the prose is clunky but the ideas are so interesting that you don't mind. Well, almost.

    •  I Rembember That Title... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...And I remember seeing that book and The Black Cloud in our local library.  I'm sure I read both books, but it's been so long ago that I no longer remember the stories.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:44:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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