One Giant Read giving audiences an out of this world literary experience

Science fact and science fiction have collided with the launch of an initiative themed around an International Space Station mission.

As British European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia Mission makes the final preparations for launch on December 15, a new reading initiative – One Giant Read – has become a reality here on Earth.

Created by charity Literature Works, in partnership with the RNIB and the UK Space Agency, and supported by the Plymouth Literature Project at Plymouth University, the project offers easy to access reading materials and content themed to the Principia Mission.

The site is accessible to people living with sight loss and aims to raise funds for RNIB’s ‘Talking Books’ and to enable more projects which bring reading and writing opportunities for everyone.

For every month Tim circles the Earth, the One Giant Read website will publish a series of themed writing and reading challenges showcasing the very best of science fiction writers and exploring the influence science fiction has had on science fact.

It will also feature the thoughts of a number of Plymouth University scientists, and the first to be included are the Executive Dean of Science and Environment, Professor Kevin Jones, and the National Marine Aquarium Chair in the Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health, Professor Camille Parmesan.

Tracey Guiry, CEO of Literature Works says:

“Science fiction is one of the most widely read and popular genres in the UK, and many ideas dreamt up by writers and poets in the past have now become science fact. The One Giant Read brings accessible examples of the best audio books, poems and videos from scientists to get readers excited about arts and science, and our One Giant Write competition challenges writers use the next seven months to complete and enter their unpublished novels.”

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, says:

“We are thrilled that Tim’s mission will inspire such a great project that will recognise and encourage the imagination and creativity needed to continue our exploration of space. This exciting project will use literature to bring the latest science and engineering to new audiences.”

Once launched, the site will be packed with recordings, videos and texts which will keep readers entertained and also stretch the ways they think of the UK Space Programme.

It will feature works from contemporary writers and poets, including audio books from Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, kindly donated by Gollancz, poems from Simon Barraclough and Sir Andrew Motion and many others, as well as recorded poems from The Poetry Archive, and reviews from classic science fiction writers such as Iain M Banks, Doris Lessing, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, JG Ballard and Philip K Dick. 

Professor Kevin Jones said:

“Space exploration is one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time, and consistently inspires people to think beyond the boundaries of what might be possible. I hope the One Giant Read project can capture that spirit, using a combination of science fact and fiction to educate audiences about the impact science and the arts can have on their daily lives. It provides a unique opportunity for us to use our world-leading expertise to enthuse people about the STEM subjects.”

With only seven per cent of all readable materials in formats accessible for blind people, the One Giant Read project aims to raise funds to enable more books to be recorded for the RNIB’s famous Talking Books library and for more reading and writing initiatives to be provided.

The website,, went live on Tuesday 1 December with new content being added over the coming weeks and months.

European Space Agency video

See Tim Peake’s preparations with the European Space Agency (ESA) for his exciting space mission, Principia. He’ll spend five months in orbit carrying out experiments on behalf of ESA, as well as international research projects.

Watch the video
European Space Agency - not for re-use

The Plymouth Literature Project (PLP)

The PLP aims to re-articulate and promote the importance of reading and writing within our society positioning the University as a dynamic hub for teaching, research and public engagement combining our expertise with that of our partner, Literature Works

Plymouth International Book Festival
Graduating students on Plymouth Hoe


Love to read? Engage with the diversity of English literature across six centuries, from Shakespearean drama to the graphic novel, and explore literature in relation to history.

Our teaching is driven by research and is rated among the best in the nation.

View the BA (Hons) English course
Books courtesy of Shutterstock