To boldly conceive


Mark Brake, Neil Hook FutureWorld
Boxtree/Science Museum 2008

FutureWorld is a popular account of the interaction between science fiction and pure science, published in association with the Science Museum in London and aimed at a general audience. Structured by division into four broad themes — space, time, machine and monster — the book’s main thesis is that bold imaginative concepts have to precede insights into real science, and that science fiction, of whatever period and whatever label, both stimulates scientific investigation and the developments of technologies while itself being stimulated in its turn by science and technology.

This being a Science Museum publication, it is primarily designed to communicate science to the public in an entertaining way without literally blinding them with science, and what better way to hook that public than with themes from popular culture. To that end there is no end of references to popular SF books, films, TV shows and games, with one hundred short entries broken up by wittily-captioned photos and illustrations.

The whole builds on the increasing realisation that Continue reading “To boldly conceive”

The original Elizabeth Bennet? Update

A letter from Jane, which explains itself:
“I am a Bennet – directly descended from the Bennet’s of Widcombe Manor of Bath. My 4 x Great Grandfather was best pals with with Ralph Allen of Prior Park. Bennets are buried in a Tomb next door to Widcombe Manor – Church of St Thomas a Becket. It is very probably that the Bennet reference in Jane Austen’s book was related to my ancestors – they were wealthy and prominent in Bath at the time. Bennett Street in Bath is named after them, albeit the current spelling is correct – only 1 x t in the name. I don’t know of the Benet on the monument – I have extensive information on my ancestors but of course, there could be a connection that I have missed.”


Elizabeth Benet

A repost from 5th May 2013 for Austen in August.

Visiting Bath Abbey in April this year [2013] I chanced on this curious memorial on the east wall of the south transept.

Close inspection revealed the name of one Elizabeth Benet (sic), widow of William Bathurst Pye Benet (died May 4th 1806), who herself died at the age of 80 in 1826. Could Jane Austen, who lived in Bath between 1801 and 1805 (not to mention visits there in the 1790s), have met this real-life Elizabeth Bennet, clearly a grande dame in Bath society?

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