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professor of science communication at the Centre for Astronomy and Science Education, and director of the SETPOINT Wales, RoCCoTO and South Wales Science Shop projects

Science fiction inspired me to take up science. I was struck by science fiction as a mode of thinking. Its crucial field of discourse is the reducible gap between the new worlds uncovered by science and exploration, and the fantastic strange worlds of the imagination, through which come to see our own conditions of life in a new and potentially revolutionary perspective.

This led to my fascination with science itself, since when I’ve been engrossed with science fiction as a sustained, coherent and often subversive check on the opposites and contradictions of science – the promises and pitfalls of progress through the ages. Science fiction has influenced issues and dialogues in the communication of science, and is still the leading creative catalyst of scientific ideas into symbols and metaphors of the human condition – an often unconscious and therefore especially valuable reflection of the assumptions and attitudes held by society.

By virtue of its ability to project and dramatise, science fiction is recognised as a particularly effective means – perhaps for many of us, the only means – of generating concern and thought about the social, philosophical and moral consequences of scientific progress.