Science Fiction Genre Definition
This brief definition of the Science
Fiction Genre takes a look at some of the interesting aspects
of this wonderful genre.
Science fiction, sometimes called SF (meaning Speculative Fiction),
is a genre of fiction dealing principally with the impact of
actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having
a scientific factor as an essential orienting component. This
is a form of writing that is concerned with a world removed
in some fundamental way from our own, whether in time, attitude
Science Fiction genre novels are literature about the future,
telling stories of the marvels we hope to see, or for our descendants
to see tomorrow, in the next century, or in the limitless duration
of time. It doesn't just have to be about science, though. It
has been described quite suitably as: "A controlled way
to think and dream about the future." It can be about people,
ideas, and where the world is going. It can also be about where
people have already been.
The main problem with the concept of genre is that it is fairly
ill defined by the literary community; This is often compounded
by its uses in the film, comic, and gaming communities. The
borders of this genre are also not well defined. It has proved
difficult to define because it is not a run of the mill genre
with the dividing lines between its sub-genres often fluid;
It certainly can be described as a constantly shifting genre
with blurred boundaries. Unlike the mystery, the western, the
gothic, the love story, or the adventure story, to quote a few
of the categories to which it is often compared, science fiction
has no identifying action or place. Science fiction allows the
writer to use his imagination; As Albert Einstein once said,
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Depending on whom you ask, the line between Science Fiction
and fantasy often tends to blur. To Quote Arthur C. Clarke on
this: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
from magic." Science fantasy is generally a fictional story
in which the science elements are mistaken for magic by the
One argument is that fantasy and science fiction are equally
valid, but they do different things. They are not identical,
they cannot even be compared. They are sometimes bracketed together
because the ideas of science fiction generate images that affect
us as strongly as any archetype in the vaults of fantasy.
Science Fiction History
The earliest beginnings of science fiction may be traced as
far back as ancient Greece. The years-long journey of Odysseus
in "The Odyssey" details his fantastic travels around
strange, unknown lands bordering the Mediterranean.
Jules Verne's "voyages extrodinaires", which began
in 1851 with A DRAMA IN THE AIR, and soon included A JOURNEY
TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1864) and FROM EARTH TO THE MOON
and A TRIP ROUND IT (1865 & 1874) brought him fame, and
today he's known as the "father of Science Fiction".
Edgar Allan Poe and Fitz-James O'Brien were writing what is
now considered "sf" in mid-19th century American periodicals
and there were some singular works in the 1880's.
H. G. Wells pushed the envelope with his 1894 story that became
THE TIME MACHINE. And of course his WAR OF THE WORLDS (1897).
The imagination of H.G. Wells was stirred by the strange markings
discovered on Mars. "The War of the Worlds" concerns
the invasion of earth as two species, humans and aliens compete
with the alien technology superior to that of earth. The invaders
are eventually defeated by another species from earth, something
small but lethal to the aliens...earth bacteria.
Science fiction novel and
A Science Fiction novel can be generally a novel in which futuristic
technology and sometimes even altered scientific values play
a significant part in the exploits.
Often the novel assumes a set of rules or principles or facts
and then traces their logical consequences in some form. For
example, given that a man discovers how to make himself invisible,
what might happen as in the classic novel by H. G. Wells, 'The
A popular idea of science fiction is that it is, in general,
attempting to predict the future. Certain observers would go
so far as to assess the "accomplishment" of a work
of science fiction on its accuracy as a prediction.
While most science fiction is set in the future, most authors
are not attempting to predict; instead, they use the future
as an open structure for their subject matter. It can be said
that this is a branch of fiction is one that deals with the
possible effects of an altered technology or social system on
mankind in an imagined future, an altered present, or even an
alternative past. A science fiction writer is generally not
trying to write a history of the future that they believe will
happen, any more than a writer of westerns is trying to create
a historically accurate depiction of the old West.
Science fiction not only offers a window to the future, but
a mirror for the present.
Science fiction is a form of fiction which deals principally
with the effect of actual or possible science upon society or
individuals. In this world of rapidly changing technology, ethical
questions raised by developments in biology and medicine and
by increasingly sophisticated mass communication, serious science
fiction may be better equipped than any other kind of literature
to contemplate the predicament such changes present.
Some people add that ScF should make you think about possible
future worlds and alternatives, but to round off this definition
of the Science Fiction Genre, I'd simply like to say that in
my humble opinion, I think that it's really quite nice to have
some fiction that's purely just good entertainment.
© 2012 Steve Bennett
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