Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts is Professor of 19th-century literature at London University. His novels, SALT, GRADISIL and YELLOW BLUE TIBIA have all been shortlisted for the ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD. He has also published a number of academic works on both 19th-century poetry and SF.


I find myself the Associate Publisher of Gollancz with no clear idea of how I got here but fairly sure I enjoyed the journey. There was some college, a lot of bookselling and a bit of marketing along the way but that was a long time ago. I’ve been editing since 1991. I’ve always read SF, Fantasy and Horror but I’ve always enjoyed reading other stuff as well. I’ve published other stuff too but never had as much fun doing it as I have publishing genre books. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing; to the extent that I’ve been comprehensively ruined for doing anything else. Anything else may have got off lightly. I’m definitely more Arthur Dent than I am Takeshi Kovacs. But then if anyone in publishing tells you they’re like Takeshi Kovacs they are LYING.
  • Simon

    Again! Again!

  • Al R

    The Master clearly had no doubt that The Teletubbies was documentary television. The John Simm incarnation was shown watching it in a nice nod to the earlier scene where the Delgado era Master was similarly engaged in The Clangers.

  • The only remaining question is, are the Teletubbies the adolescence or the senescence of the Power Rangers?

  • While I agree with a great deal of Professor Roberts’ astute analysis, there is one key point about which he is wrong: Utopian? I think not. The pathos and the anguish in the cries of “again, again” are unmistakeable, as these reject cyborg experiments strive desperately to cling to the humanity they once knew. Isolated in this primary colour artificial prison, their slavery is brought chillingly home with the inescapable disembodied Prisoner-style “time for teletubby bye-bye” that marks their daily return to matrix-esque slavery. In short, the Teletubbies are, in fact, a bleak dystopia, a grim out-take from a Gavin Smith novel in which the tap-dancing teddy-bear “Number Two” is the sinister ring-master.

    • Simon

      Oh my god . . . I’ll never sleep again.

    • Teletubbie land is the full immersion VR program that Balor uses for “me” time.

  • No foolin, I once joked with a friend that the Teletubbies were Eloi, and that their world was maintained by grey-felt-clad Telemorlocks who dwelt in a gloomy underworld and would someday consume them.

  • The program has been on in the United States long enough for my then-toddler children to graduate from high school.

    Personally, I always thought of them as zoo animals, given the totally artificial nature of their environment, perhaps even the last of their species.

  • I rest my case!

  • I think another children’s show with a really interesting SF reading is the new My Little Pony, “Friendship is Magic.” It’s a biotech-utopia where nature has been replaced by civilized intervention…weather is scheduled and controlled by pegasi, and all animal species are domesticated. The one place where nature remains is the dark and dangerous Everfree Forest, of which the characters say:

    “The Everfree Forest just ain’t natural. The plants grow, animals care for themselves, and the clouds move…all on their own! *one of the characters faints in fear*”

    (from ep. 9, “Bridle Gossip”)

  • Jed

    One of the new M83 tracks also seems to describe, to me at least, a utopian post-human future where we’ve gained mastery over our own genome and (d)evolved into a harmonious group of childlike planet-hopping cosmic frog-folk. I like it.

  • Tom Holmes

    I wanted for a long time to live in teletubby land! The blue fields, the green skies. The yearning consumed me for several year, and I fell into a sad depression when I realised it would never happen. But then I saw the documentary Avatar. I’m talking to a bloke on the market who swears he can get me a seat on the next transport out out. Apparently the departure point is teletubby land..

  • Pingback: Do Gooder Press - A herd o’links…()

  • I remember watching an episode or two within 36 hours of running across John Boorman’s ZARDOZ on TV again, and noting how similar the two settings seem:

    * Both have enclaves surrounded by bucolic countryside

    * Both enclaves contain enhanced individuals that were raised well beyond us on a number of levels

    * Both sets of individuals seem engaged in pointless activity for its own sake

    * The lighting of each set piece by the respective directors is almost identical

    * You walk away from watching both wondering why you bothered

    I have always maintained that the Teletubbies are an effort to bring ZARDOZ to the preschool set, and am glad that someone else has potentially considered this as well…

  • Pingback: This… this is awesome « The Downcomer()

  • That was quite the interesting article.

  • Anneke Garcia

    You do realize that the Teletubbies’ ancestors are the Hobbits, of course?

  • EduardoVS

    Very interesting. This made me remember of a passage in the Bible I have once heard, which says something like “the greatest in the heavens will be the one who reachs out there with the soul of a child”.

    I felt some lack of consistence in these mentions to Huxley’s Brave New World, as the citizens in that dystopia use drugs and other adult methods to keep them calm and not simply live a life without problems. But great deal to remember it.

    Thinking of too much hidden reference and socio-philosophic reflection in a children’s show must seem somewhat exaggerated, however I won’t discard this. Who knows if there were a mysterious purpose when Teletubbies was created.

  • miki

    Or perhaps the whole is for toddlers and about toddlers…I have a toddler and I do everything for him just like you say all the tech does for the teletubbies lol. You guys might be thinking too much into the show.

  • Pingback: Weekend Links | Gerry Canavan()