Llewellyn, Robert

Tagged: TV | Author

(1956-    ) UK actor, comedian and author, perhaps best known for his role from 1989 to 2012 as the Android Kryten in the Television series Red Dwarf, for which he also wrote some scripts. He first came to notice within an sf context, however, with his play "Mammon, Robot Born of Woman" (performed Summer 1988, Edinburgh Festival), about a Robot whose behaviour deteriorates as he learns more successfully how to behave like a human. Most of his fiction focuses on comic set-pieces; but the News sequence, comprising News from Gardenia (2012) and News from the Squares (2013), is an exercise of genuine sf interest in the formulation of Utopia. In the first novel, which is based explicitly on William Morris's News from Nowhere (1890), Adam Meckler finds himself translated instantaneously two hundred years hence, into a mature post-scarcity culture (there is much discussion of Power Sources); his guides to utopia are, unusually for the genre, both good-humoured and self-deprecating. In the end, Meckler attempts to return to his own time; but arrives in the very different future depicted in News from the Squares. As the title hints, utopia has been displaced into the mode of Dystopia, though with qualifications: humanity is now concentrated in a vast megalopolis (see Cities) built around verdant squares; women, here in the majority (see Feminism; Women in SF), are dominant and have managed – not unusually in twenty-first tales that explored Gender issues – to have banished War. Meckler, a mild-mannered geek with few social skills, serves as a plausible recipient of the doctrines and revelations bestowed upon him. News is projected to continue with at least one further volume. [JC]

Robert Llewellyn

born Northampton, Northamptonshire: 10 March 1956

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