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Eric C Williams: Horsham and the New Age of Sci-Fi

Until the 1940’s science-fiction was seen by most people as a genre for eccentrics, and certainly not be taken seriously. A bit of fun. A bit of food for thought, perhaps. Really suitable only for cheap magazines. But as the great American sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov said: ‘The dropping of the atom bomb in 1945 made science fiction respectable.’

Sci-Fi writing had been gaining momentum during the 2nd World War. Magazines (‘pulp’ magazines particularly) full of short fantasy or sci-fi stories had become popular. The great conflagration taking place in the world was making people think hard about the nature of civilisation and even the place of man in the universe. Perhaps too, the experience of the horrors of war created growing cynicism about both individual human motives and the societies that we create.

There were rapid changes being brought about by technology and science, with weapons of mass destruction, the jet engine, new communications systems etc. At the same time, and very much linked to these things, were the dramatic political changes, including the various forms of totalitarianism in both Europe and Asia.

Eric C Williams, like others, saw in science fiction an opportunity to examine these issues. He had been a huge fan of sci-fi in the 1930’s – Eric had written regularly for Sci-Fi magazines including Sci-Fi ‘Fanzines’ as they were called. He created his own, along with other published British writers such as Arthur C Clark in London. Becoming a significant figure in the development of British Sci-Fi after the War, he wrote a number of books himself. Unfortunately, these are now out of print.

Find out more about Eric and about Sci-Fi after the 2nd World War with information in the district’s libraries – Horsham, Billingshurst, Henfield, Pulborough, Southwater, Steyning and Storrington, throughout the month, and on our web-site (horshamwriters.co.uk).

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Mon 22 July
Wed 21 August
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