Britain is the only country in the world to have cancelled its space programme just as it put its first rocket into orbit. Starting with this forgotten episode, The Backroom Boys tells the bittersweet story of modern British engineers and inventors. Sad, inspiring, funny and ultimately triumphant, it follows the technologists whose work kept Concorde flying, created the computer game, conquered the mobile-phone business, saved the human genome for the human race - and who sent the Beagle 2 probe to burrow in the cinnamon sands of Mars.
Francis Spufford, a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1977), has edited two acclaimed literary anthologies and a collection of essays on the history of technology. His first book, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination, was awarded the Writers Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996 and a Somerset Maugham Award, and also inspired a Frankfurt Ballet production and a clown show at the Edinburgh Festival 2001. He lives in Camberwell, London.