Sunday, September 1, 2013


In November 2012, a day-long celebration was held at the Michelson Theater of New York, celebrating the British television writer Nigel Kneale (1922-2006), author of the Quatermass series, The Stone Tape, and The Year of the Sex Olympics, among many other works. A resultant book (with cassette tape comprised mostly of experimental synthesizer music inspired by Kneale's works) was published, called The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, edited by Sukhdev Sandhu, with contributions by Roger Luckhurst, Mark Pilkington, China Mieville, and others.  This small printing disappeared fairly quickly, but a second edition is reportedly in preparation. The contributions aren't especially well-edited---e.g., at least two contributors refer correctly to Kneale's birth in Barrow-in-Furness, while two others state  (incorrectly) that he was born in the Isle of Man. Some of the contributions are creative, while the more focused and analytical ones worked best for me (including one putting Kneale's least successful science fiction Kinvig into context).  A few essayists make intriguing remarks about Kneale's recurring contempt for his medium (television), which shows up (most obviously) in The Year of the Sex Olympics, as well as in the final Quatermass. Overall this volume makes an interesting entry point to the study of Kneale's work, which deserves all the attention it gets.


  1. It took me thirty years, but I finally located copies of his Quatermass scripts in the Penguin edtitions. Found them in a swanky used bookstore off the Main Line near Philadelphia. One of the few times I've approached the counter with trembling hands.

  2. The second and third of those Penguin paperbacks have attractive black-and-white cover art by Bryan Kneale, the author's younger brother.