Anglia Ruskin University sets up sci-fi and fantasy centre

Centre director Dr Helen Marshall Image copyright ARU
Image caption Dr Helen Marshall says the study of science fiction is now more than 75 years old

A centre dedicated to science fiction and fantasy - understood to be the first of its type in the UK - has been set up by a university.

Anglia Ruskin University, based in Chelmsford and Cambridge, will launch a masters degree in the subject in 2018.

Centre director Helen Marshall said the "current interest in alternative facts and George Orwell's 1984" made the subject "relevant".

It will also offer science fiction and fantasy modules for undergraduates.

The centre, which will be run within the university's English faculty, will officially open on Wednesday with 10 staff.

'Climate of debate'

Dr Marshall said: "While these genres might be seen to look backwards to the distant past and forward to myriad potential futures.

"As Orwell himself says, 'He who controls the past controls the future.

"'He who controls the present controls the past'."

The centre has set up its own so-called "shadow jury" to critique the results of this year's for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, thought to be a first for a science fiction book prize

Judges will include the academic Dr Nick Hubble and author Nina Allan and they will each select their own shortlist from the award and nominate their favourite,

Dr Marshall said it was inspired by the shadow juries that have "worked wonders in enlivening the climate of debate around mainstream literary awards such as the Man Booker Prize".

She added it would "investigate issues surrounding the definitions of science fiction".

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