THE great man of science revealed his passion for science fiction to an intimate Oxford audience.

Richard Dawkins was giving a talk to a sold-out crowd at Blackwell’s in Broad Street.

But instead of reading from his new memoir, An Appetite For Wonder, as they expected, he read excerpts from some of his favourite authors, including the unorthodox astronomer Fred Hoyle.

Judy Eames, who visited Oxford from Henley for the talk with her husband David, said: “We really enjoyed it.

“It wasn’t quite what we expected, he spent a lot of time talking about other people, but it was extremely interesting.”

Mr Eames, a retired physics teacher, said: “I think he writes very well, I have always been impressed by his clarity and the way he puts his ideas in general.

“We didn’t expect the early influences from science fiction.”

Professor Dawkins, Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, gave his talk to about 120 people.

Blackwell’s academic manager Euan Hirst said: “It was nice that he was able to pick the things he was talking about instead of his publisher’s choice.”