A selection of publications from the archive of Michael Butterworth, Manchester UK, writer, publisher and editor whose prolific career started as a writer in the UK during the 'new wave of science fiction' in the 1960s and 1970s, centred around the magazine New Worlds. Ushered in by J G Ballard and Michael Moorcock (the editor of New Worlds) this loosely defined movement can be seen to encompass an approach to science fiction that looked both at what was happening in the emergent media landscape, and inwards, examining psychology and societal pressures, rather than to the far future and space technology of ‘Golden Age’ science fiction. Another defining characteristic of the sci-fi ‘new wave’ was the inclusion of illustrations either by the authors themselves or contemporary artists, experimenting with the interplay between text and image.
Each item on display is accompanied by an anecdotal caption written by Michael Butterworth, emphasising the importance and blending of personal and professional relationships within his ouvre, and giving an insight into the works beyond straightforward analysis. The intention is to present these publications and editorial approaches for re-examination from a contemporary perspective.
During August 2014, The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of books curated an exhibition of material from the archives of Savoy Books, the publishing house that Butterworth co-founded with David Britton in 1976, at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester UK, and much of the same material is to be again shown here. Savoy Books is one of the most radical successors to the UK ‘new wave’, together with cyberpunk, steampunk and the works of Alan Moore. Its Lord Horror series and early mixed-media production innovations have made it a legendary organisation. However, whilst the initial ‘Butterworth’ exhibition focused on the graphical output of the author-publisher’s Savoy work his relation to the cultural history of Manchester, here we have selected previously unseen earlier publications to focus on the publishing culture of the science fiction ‘new wave’ as well as Butterworth's career.
The UK ‘new wave’ attracted a strong contingent of American contributors – John Sladek, Thomas M Disch, Samuel R Delany, Norman Spinrad, James Sallis, the artist Pamela Zoline as well as Harlan Ellison, dogen of the American ‘new wave’. Many decamped to the ‘swinging’ scene in London, as American Judith Merril termed it in her seminal anthology of the movement, England Swings SF, Doubleday, 1968.
Perpetuating this tradition, though in reverse, Butterworth currently writes for Carter Kaplan’s Massachusetts-based Emanations series of annual anthologies, now in its fifth year. Published by International Authors, and with a leaning towards experiment and science fiction, it features globally-sourced fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos and reviews written in the English language. Foray into Forever, its fifth iteration, is due in the summer, and for news about this its editor may be contacted through its website at http://iaemanations.blogspot.co.uk/
As part of the initial exhibition The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books invited five contemporary artists and collectives to produce a film in response to one of the Corridor small press magazines edited by Butterworth between 1971 and 1976 and can be viewed online here.
The success of these has prompted research and further filming for a feature length documentary by Manchester-based artist Clara Casian, taking the innovative and experimental art and writing of the Corridor series as a starting point to examine the wider culture surrounding Savoy, and the lives and work of Butterworth’s peers.