"Can art and science ever be reconciled?" fret various pundits periodically, wringing their hands about the fundamental disconnect between two seemingly divided worlds. However, they often overlook an incredibly successful, and popular, combination of these different spheres of knowledge - science fiction.
Sci-fi is celebrated in an exhibition at The British Library at the moment, "Out of this world - science fiction but not as you know it", and it's one that's well worth a visit if you have the chance, assuming that you, like me, are a colossal geek. It's free and runs until 25 September, so there is still plenty of time for London-based nerds to get along.
Being at the British Library, the exhibition is, of course, focused on books, although a few sci-fi classics from television and film make an appearance too. A life-sized replica Tardis in the middle of the exhibition space should clue you up as to "Who" I mean (profound apologies).
This tour of the most distant reaches of the human imagination begins with what is widely regarded as the oldest known science fiction book, and it's a lot older than you might think. Lucian of Samosata wrote his True History, a satire on travellers' tales that includes a story about a trip to the moon, in the second century AD. In it, he imagines armies of the sun and moon at war and includes some colourful sounding aliens - horse-ants, dog-faced men and moon dwellers with retractable eyes and tails like cabbage leaves anyone?
Other aged works of early sci-fi on show include John Mandeville's Travels from the 14th-century, long thought to be a factual account but now widely regarded as a fiction, and Cyrano de Bergerac's The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Worlds of the Moon and the Sun, written in 1687, which includes space travel.
As was the case in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, which is also on display, many authors used science fiction to satirise and poke fun at the politics and social mores of the time. Voltaire's Micromégas of 1753, for example, includes a pair of extraordinarily tall aliens, one from Saturn and another from a planet that orbits Sirius, who laugh at human wars. Unable to distinguish between the sides, they describe the folly as "100,000 madmen wearing hats".
Also of historical note are Jane Webb's The Mummy (1827), thought to be the first science fiction book in the modern sense, and Philip Wylie's Gladiator (1930), which was perhaps the inspiration behind the creation of Superman in 1932. Of course, all the old favourites such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are represented too, among many others.
Science fiction magazines also feature, including Amazing Stories, which coined the term "science fiction" in 1929, and Interzone, the longest running UK sci-fi magazine - founded in 1982 and still going strong today.
The exhibition doesn't just concentrate on historical sci-fi and there is much to see that is more modern in origin. Authors such as William Gibson, Iain M. Banks, Alan Moore, Margaret Atwood, John Brunner and Kurt Vonnegut all get a look-in, and there's space for some Manga too in the form of Ikigami (2008) by Motoro Mase.
There's also some fantastic dated sci-fi artwork to have a giggle at, a selection of audio and video snippets, and Clay 9,000, a robot that recounts stories of automatons from literature, including such favourites as Marvin the paranoid android and Clay's namesake, Hal 9,000.
It's a great exhibition that covers the history of science fiction comprehensively and will satisfy your inner (or indeed outer) geek, whether you're a fan of V for Vendetta, The War of the Worlds or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.