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Whatever you thought about science fiction, think again. And keep on thinking, because that's what science fiction does. It makes us think, and helps us prepare for the future, understand the present and cope with the unknown by posing such questions as 'What if...?' or 'Just suppose...'. This book, which accompanies a major British Library exhibition on the scope and nature of science fiction, reveals what science fiction has achieved and seeks to achieve. It shows its history over the last two thousand years and its international importance. Divided into six sections - Alien Worlds, Parallel Worlds, Future Worlds, Virtual Worlds, Perfect Worlds and The End of the World - the book explores how science fiction has responded to the impact of science, technology and socio-political change on ourselves and our societies. From the works of Cyrano de Bergerac to Ray Bradbury and Mary Shelley to J G Ballard this book reveals the full heritage and wonder of science fiction.