Science Fiction Friction!

Award-winning BBC Radio 4 presenter Helen Keen curates and hosts two nights of explosive collisions between science fiction and science fact at the Ri.

  • BBC Radio 4 It is Rocket Science presenter Helen Keen

    BBC Radio 4 It is Rocket Science presenter Helen Keen

    Credit: Claes Gellerbrink


Helen Keen, award-winning star of BBC Radio 4’s It Is Rocket Science, curates and hosts two nights (4 and 13 February) of explosive collisions between science fiction and science fact, featuring SF authors, professors, comedians and other things that go bang.

Science Fact or Science Fiction - which is better? There’s only one way to find out… With imaginative experiments, electrifying literature, peer-reviewed poetry, and ignited curiosity. Two evenings celebrate the crossovers, coincidences and conflicts between the worlds of literature and laboratory. Join us for a battle that is as old as time itself: fiction vs fact, the arts vs the sciences, HAL from 2001 vs an automated self-service checkout....

The stellar line-up of guests include:

Ali Sparkes – SF author, winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year for Frozen in Time – a tale of two cryogenically frozen children from the 1950s, brought back to life in 2009.

Professor Sophie Scott – Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, who’ll be talking about alien abductions and the psychological issues around space travel.

Paul Cornell – SF & fantasy author & writer for DC and Marvel comics and Doctor Who – episodes include the HUGO nominated Human Nature & The Family of Blood.

Sara Pascoe – Comedian & actor – Stand Up For The Week, Campus, Twenty Twelve, Being Human.

Jon Chase (AKA Oort Kuiper) – NASA commissioned rapper, postgrad student and scientist.

Dr Paul Olding – Filmmaker and BAFTA-nominated director of Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of Life.

Event details

Science Fiction Friction! (Part 1) Tuesday 4 February, 7.00pm - 8.30pm

Science Fiction Friction! (Part 2), Thursday 13 February, 7.00 to 8.30pm

For more information and to book tickets please visit

Helen Keen

Helen Keen is an award winning comedy writer, performer and life-long space enthusiast.

As a live performer she toured the country with Robin Ince and Prof. Brian Cox as a guest of the Uncaged Monkeys, and she was later appointed the first Comedian in Residence at Newcastle's Centre for Life Science Village.

In August 2013 she compered the first ever live comedy night at CERN, Large Hadron Comedy (the event was webcast and attracted CERN's largest international on-line audience since the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson...)

Helen's first solo stand up show It Is Rocket Science was picked up by BBC Radio 4 and has so far launched 2 critically acclaimed series. The show also stars Peter Serafinowicz, and will return for a third run in early 2014, after winning the 2013 WISE Media Award.

Helen also appears in the forthcoming second TV series of The Alternative Comedy Experience (curated by Stewart Lee), also to be broadcast this year.

"A sort of stand-up version of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (The Times)

"Shamelessly nerdy... deeply silly" (Radio Times)

"Quirky, offbeat and original …adroitly blends comedy and science... Helen Keen is clearly someone to watch" (The Sunday Times)

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