— Ellie Broughton

Sci-fi: anxiety in vogue

BFI Sci-Fi festival Days of Fear and Wonder hits the South Bank

Afrofuturism, queer sci-fi and a celebration of 2000AD (the comic) are among the more arcane offerings – but I was excited about October’s programme of cult classics, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) to A Clockwork Orange (1971), Mad Max 2 (1981), Brazil (1985) and Akira (1988). In November, fans of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will be treated to an extended run of his masterpiece with a panel discussion including the original stars of the show, Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, plus Professor Brian Cox and Sir Christopher Frayling.

Whether it’s the monster from the black lagoon, the resurrection of the dead or a malevolent spaceship, science fiction’s creations possess an alarming ability to embed themselves in our imaginations. But however scary the monster, these tropes draw their true power from their conscious or unconscious reflection of the anxieties of their age.

From the crushed industrial workers of Metropolis’s dystopian city state, to our present day discomfiture with the blurring of boundaries between human and machine, sci-fi has been able to articulate some of our greatest fears and allegorize some of our greatest failings.