The Personal Archive

Even in a time when writer China Miéville makes the cover of the Guardian Review and the work of the late Iain (M.) Banks enjoys critical as well as popular acclaim, science fiction as a literary form remains something of an outsider, the punky little sister of the more received literary canon. Perhaps this is its greatest asset, allowing those working within the genre to explore the outermost limits of human imagination and mapping out the possibilities of science and consciousness. 

In science fiction, multi-coloured and limbed aliens are played for oddity alongside ambitious meditations on society like Asimov’s Foundation series, or sprawling interrogations of religion like Herbert’s Dune series. The form has also thrown up prophetic socio-political texts like George Orwell’s 1984 that predicted our current Big Brother society, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a deceptively simple novel that investigates the control and ‘purpose’ of the female body.

And what do we see in our imaginations when we hear the words “science fiction”? A buyer for a large bookstore chain in the 1970s is reported to have stated that all science fiction books should have machines on their covers, because that is what SF is all about, something against which many readers –and the display here- would argue. From pulp-art to modern classics, the book covers within this archive illustrate the sheer diversity, not only within the genre, but also just within how a single story is interpreted, or presented: sold as a certain image to a certain audience by capturing a narrative, a turning point, a political explosion.

This ability of science fiction to explore and encapsulate big ideas is perfectly illustrated by the science fiction that appeared on British TV after the Second World War. Never matching the optimism and huge budgets of their American counterparts, the British offerings were by necessity more high concept. Stark lightning and threadbare sets somehow heightened their drama by inviting the audience to conspire with the creators, and positioned the otherworldly more definitely in our own world.

Archive Movies curated by John Harris Dunning (Curator, journalist and author)

Book Covers curated by Andy Sawyer (Science Fiction Collections Librarian, University of Liverpool Library)

Books on loan from the Science Fiction Foundation Collection (Special Collections and Archives, The University of Library).

The SFF Collection is Europe’s largest research collection of English-language sf and material about sf; supporting the scholarship and teaching science fiction nationally and internationally. For more details about the Collection and the Science Fiction Foundation, see

Science Fiction is all about personal stories, which deal with universal (and world changing) issues. For New Death, FACT launched an Open Call asking you for your SciFi Home Movies. The response was overwhelming, including international responses from artists based in New York and Brazil to movies produced on a mobile phone round the corner from the FACT building. Here we present the best of these submissions, the low-budget, the fantastical, the uncanny, the creepy, the visionary, and the incredibly funny…

These films, chosen by FACT and the Science Fiction: New Death curators, in partnership with Little White Lies, have been broken down into sections which have been thematically titled for short stories or novels by the writer J. G. Ballard.

To view more information about the Home Made Sci-Fi films featured, please visit the tabs above. 

The Personal Archive is curated by John Dunning with The Science Fiction Foundation's Collection held in the University of Liverpool Library's Special Collections & Archives (Europes largest catalogued collection of science fiction materials)

David Hutchinson, Rearview Park, 4”55 ***

Ariel McGuinty , tired of life searches for a dramatic way to shrug off this mortal coil, but things don't quite go to plan when she meets Rearview Park trainee Wee Malky.

Anthony Gross, Columbo Eats Columbo, 28”00

Columbo is a sophisticated replicant detective on the edge of a nervous breakdown. An empty crime scene prompts him to reinvestigate the end of the Analogue age and the dawn of The Digital

Ben Wissett, Submersion, 4”43

A very short film about a man who awakes to realise he is trapped in a creepy, virtual copy of his flat.

Eoghan Ryan, Walghvogul, 11”08

Walghvogul’s origins and convolutions are intentionally abstracted, using three different narrative points. The first is an unrehearsed conversation with a Mauritian women currently living in Ireland and working in the private health sector. The second is a woman swimming with a dolphin, and the third is mediated, chosen prose from Charles Baudelaire’s Fleur de Mal. 


Isabel Brison, Suburbia Fantastica, 15”56

A low-grade, post-apocalyptic study of a suburban landscape in Lisbon; with a sound track formed from extracts from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Hugely reminiscent of Ballard’s unflinching stare into the potential aesthetics (and ethics) of the suburban ring road… 

Isobel Adderley, The Erratics: Sin Is To Rot Sin Is, 19”47

Inspired from an extract in Anna Kavan’s novel Ice, and harking to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, this film charts the slow discovery of human-like objects named the ‘Erratics’. These lichen-like growth take on a more sinister role in an urban surrounding, where they begin to stalk the protagonist.

Tim Maughan, Paintwork, 8”00

Set in near-future Bristol - the British city known internationally for spawning Banksy - Paintwork follows augmented reality graffiti artist 3Cube as she illegally transforms an all-too familiar advertising billboard into a work of high tech street art, and poses questions about the relationships between technology, advertising and the control of public spaces.

Tom Duggan, The Troglodyte Network, 9”55 ***

Within one week of an unexplained disconnection from the Internet at the beginning of 2012, our agoraphobic protagonist becomes desperate for data and is forced for the first time in a long while to leave his home and venture into the city… 

Cineclub & Cooper's Technology College, Pablo & Peter, 4”06

An alien craft crash lands to earth. It’s pilot enlists the help of a young boy to help him find and re-attach his body parts. But will it be too late? Especially as the world is littered with alien hunters…

Gareth Owen Lloyd, Back to Orlando, 8”50

Back to Orlando is a science fiction filmed in South Africa. It follows a masked character’s journey from the depths of a diamond mine to the shamanic room of a sangoma via the rooftops, highways and back streets of Johannesburg.

St Pius RC Primary School and Kids for Kids UK,Googille Invasion, 5”54

Something otherworldly is happening to the children in a small Primary School in Consett. Aliens are kidnapping the students, and plan to create an army which will help them take over the world. Who can save the captured children from the mind machine and global devastation?

Cineclub & Bacon's College, X-Ray Boy, 5”36

A boy with X-Ray vision must rescue his favourite opera singer, Madame Shantelle from the clutches of an evil Gothic genius. But does she have a secret of her own?


Tenantspin, Alien Invasion!, 8”43

This strand of FACT’s community programme ran for ten years and encouraged people who would never normally use technology to get creative. Submitted by ex-participants, this bit of nostalgia shows what happens when the tenantspin crew chose to make a SciFi B-Movie.

Zak Tatham, Intro b4 the End, 3”37

Efen and Zak are prepping and rehearsing for their Canadian survival show, when things start to go inexplicably wrong…

Jackass Youth Theatre and Kids for Kids UK, Space Academy 2453, 7”33

In a world where voice are running out, a plucky band of Space Cadets must defeat their vengeful ex-classmate turned villain if they have any chance of saving the world before graduation. Will they escape death by voice-seeking missile? Or worse, an ‘F’?

Adam Scovell, Four Hills, 3”38

Originally created as a music video for Liverpool-based John McGrath, this short clip (built from photographs) follows an Edwardian walker as he is transported to another dimension by a pocket watch.

Chooc Ly Tan, In Space There is No Up or Down, 5”09

What would a world devoid of physical laws, such as gravity and frames of references, such as geometry and time be like? Sitting outside of time would enable us to witness past, present and future all at once at the same moment and location. This film develops an empirical and existential conversation with the viewer.

Christine Niehoff, Supremacy of the Idea, 9”38

The surface of the earth has become uninhabitable and mankind has created a new Über-machine which allows them to live underground in a new artificial world of mediated communication via screens and speech tubes. To have ideas is the ultimate goal. Then something goes wrong. The Supremacy of the Idea is based on E.M. Forster’s short story The Machine Stops from 1909, a dystopian story that is frighteningly relevant 100 years later.

Graeme Cole, Pilot for a 22nd Century Sitcom, 5”00 ***

2112 AD: A smug scientist is pushed to his limits when his domestic goddess wife gets the nuclear fear and can no longer see the point in doing her chores. Progress collides with primal instinct when Wifey's worries prove world-shatteringly accurate.


Jonathan Monaghan, Mothership, 15”00

Working with similar techniques used in commercial CGI animation and special effects, Mothership combines elements from science fiction, consumerism, video games and art history into a funny yet oddly haunting film. 

Nick Mortimer, Duty to Act, 13”00

‘Duty to Act’ considers the construction, delivery and reception of media imagery.

An undelivered speech, written for John F Kennedy to announce the bombing of Cuba in 1962, forms the starting point for the combination of a counterfactual history and a series of speculative obsessions, utilising present day technology.

Adriana Trujilo and José Inerzia, Ghostly Pulsations, 5”26

Debris of memory, those things that went un-filmed and un-caught. This piece attempts to recover the marginal worlds, opening possibilities for celebration, turning back to look at childhood, at those unforgettable trips. An exercise of archiving reminiscence, which reiterates the fragility of borders, and memory. 

Eva Frapccini, Aleksander Prus Caneira: Quantum Physics and the Portals of the Unconscious, 23”46

The film is a mock-documentary dedicated to the scientist Aleksander Prus Caneira. The film proposes a meta-reality, not only criticising the logic behind the production of history but also aims at discussing the validity of sources, and the way in which we relate to our cultural history.

Amanda Le Kline, Bad Reception, 1”15

The dependence on, and frustration caused by, technology is addressed the by this film.. Real and virtual realities are disrupted, glitches get more intense and more frequent and Xugha’s frustrations grows and turns into anger as she walks around the scene attempting to find a spot with clear reception. 

Abinadi Meza, Black Box Recorder, 2”19

A two-minute moment, taken from a future in which we will have become mysteries to ourselves and the only one left to talk to will be a disembodied voice. 

Jelena Viskovic & Tamas Pall, Survival Kit, 6”31***

This video follows a narrative created around various systems of self-preservation on the internet. These techniques are translated to a fictional character as physical, non-virtual survival gear. The equipment consists of futuristic, ironic and DIY objects and garments that are analogous to the "outsider" culture that incorporates self-preservation, anonymity, and anti-institutional beliefs. 

Dionysia Mylonaki, Voice Booth, 7”33

During the last decade, humanity has experienced a frenzy of surveillance through advanced technologies. Voice Booth explores the role of popular technologies in the development of our social reality, through a device that monitors and corrects our performance.

Faith Holland, Improving Non-Stop, 11”39 ***

A short exploring contemporary magazine-culture beauty standards and the part they play in everyday life. The filmmaker’s face is transformed into a “perfect” version of themselves, but the act of wearing a mask prevents normal activity and interaction.


Ian Page, Abracadabra, 7”00

Inspired by Darko Suvin’s idea of ‘cognitive estrangement’, this film explores hidden worlds, where characters are substituted for arms and narratives are conveyed purely through a visual language of association. 

Sophie Hoyle, Sarcoid, 5”26

Sarcoid is an experimental video that explores ideas of embodiment and estrangement in relationship to technology, the manifestation of anxieties and their catharsis.

Yuri Pattison, Outsourced Views, Visual Economies, 10”00

This film, inspired by the science fiction concept of omnipresent networked technology, takes images specially commissioned from Mechanical Turk workers, to create a formulaic, narrative-less impression of the networked eye- the tool which is able to connect us to the world, but also look back on us (often uninvited).

Jessica Wallis, Dedicated to My OSX, 1”20

A film dedicated to the artists’ OSX exploring the relationship between man and machine and ideas of technological dependency.