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Icons of Science Fiction

What if? Two words that set the stage for an exhibition that explores the extraordinary ideas behind the genre’s most mind-bending creators.

  1. Purportedly powered by "Cavradyne" gaseous core nuclear reactor engines, the Discovery spacecraft was abandoned on Jupiter by Mission Commander David Bowman in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 film, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, powered on to become a box office hit.

    An 11’ long model of the Discovery spacecraft from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  2. Make your wildest dreams come true. Visitors to Icons of Science Fiction can explore how to create special effects with a green screen compositing interactive. Pick from one of four different sci-fi worlds. Send spacecraft whizzing over the city, see aliens battle it out in orbit, have a mega monster wreck havoc on the town, or confound passersby by turning yourself invisible.

    Pictured: Icons of Science Fiction gallery.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  3. EMP visitors can bask in the glow of luminaries. Located within Icons of Science Fiction, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame includes five new inductees for 2013: the artist and set designer H.R. Giger, illustrious authors Judith Merril and Joanna Russ, celebrated musician/actor David Bowie, and the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien.

    Pictured: Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

    Photo courtesy of EMP staff.

  4. The Daleks, cyborgs bent on universal domination, were introduced in December 1963 in the second Doctor Who serial. Created by writer Terry Nation, they were conceived as a race of faceless, authoritarian figures dedicated to conquest and conformity. They featured in many serials until 1988, as well as in two 1960s motion pictures, Doctor Who and the Daleks, and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, where they continued to employ their famous catchphrase, “Exterminate!”

    Pictured: Dalek from 1988 episode of “Remembrance of the Daleks."

    Photo by Erik Skaar.

  5. Ahead warp factor five. Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) led the USS Enterprise "where no man has gone before" from the comfort of his command chair. The original Star Trek, which debuted in September of 1966, only aired for three seasons. That didn't stop it from becoming a cult phenomenon. The series has spawned books, comics, video games, and no less than 12 feature films.

    Pictured: Command Chair from Star Trek: The Original Series.

    Photo by Erik Skaar.

Featuring iconic artifacts from sci-fi literature, film, television, and art, including an Imperial Dalek from Doctor Who, the command chair from the classic television series Star Trek, and Neo’s coat from The Matrix Reloaded.

Sample diverse forms of science fiction, learn about the pervasiveness of the genre in popular culture, and connect science fiction’s big ideas to the artists, writers, and filmmakers who spawned them with six unique sectors that highlight the work of EMP’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductees. Drawing on questions that propel the plots in science fiction media such as, “What if we fought a war with Aliens?” “What if we could explore the stars?” or “What if we were enslaved by our machines?” Icons of Science Fiction allows visitors to traverse the creative spirit of sci-fi innovators, while simultaneously reveling in the physical artifacts inspired by their distinct visions. See video game art, pull on a second persona with antennas, ray gun, and cape from the compositing special effects installation, and see the flying saucers and lightsabers that have come to form the basis of our collective consciousness.


Each of the featured questions in Icons of Science Fiction highlights two works of literature that explore the question, and are among the most important and enjoyable works in the field.

What if we could explore the stars?

What if we were enslaved by our machines?

What if we fought a war with aliens?

What if I had superpowers?

What if we could design our children?

What if I were the chosen one?

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