Out of this World: Two Days Left / A Signal from Mars

Inamongst all the books in display cases in Out of this World: Science Fiction but Not As You Know It at the British Library were things which which were not books: K-9, a space ship crashing into the wall, works of science fictional art work blown up to a large scale, snippets from movies and documents, and a fairly large number of headphones.

Listening to pieces of music or interviews takes several minutes at a time. It’s a commitment which the majority of visitors to the exhibit didn’t make. And so they missed out how things like a recording of the original Dr. Who theme song; an excerpt from an experimental music/voice album called Return to the Centre of the Earth (1999); and a 1910 recording of John Lacalle’s band playing Raymond Taylor’s tune, “A Signal from Mars”, set next to its sheet music.

If you have the time today or tomorrow to see the exhibit before it closes, you can listen to these yourself. If not, here’s the John Lacalle band playing “A Signal from Mars”; and a modern piano cover of it.

It’s fascinating to think of this as founding science-fictional in its time, and how much our conception of science fictional music has changed since then.

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