You are here

Genre: <i>Science fiction</i>

Science fiction has been described as the "what if" genre - it is a type of speculative fiction that is generally futuristic and considers the impact of technology and science on individuals and societies.

What is Science fiction?

Science fiction is a very broad genre, and encompasses not only written texts but many other medias. It contains numerous subgenres - for a breakdown of subgenres, crossgenres, and themes, see this Wikipedia page. Science fiction has been described as the "what if" genre - it is a type of speculative fiction that is generally futuristic and considers the impact of technology and science on individuals and societies. Science fiction differs from the Fantasy genre, in that it is usually grounded in some kind of scientific basis or has the potential to actually happen, albeit at some distant future point. Some of the common Science fiction themes include: futuristic settings; settings involving outer space and alien lifeforms; and the discovery of new technologies or sciences that impact life as we know it.

Science fiction has a long literary history; some ancient mythology could be classed as Science fiction. However, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818, is touted as one of the influential forerunners of the genre. Edgar Allan Poe wrote of a moon landing, and of course, writing in the nineteenth century, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are now widely acknowledged as being instrumental to the genre also.

In the twentieth century, Science fiction shot into popular culture in the form of pulp magazines. Groups of writers, inspired by the tremendous technological leaps of the early to mid twentieth century, came together to celebrate scientific success in storytelling. In this category falls Isaac Asimov, among others. Hollywood thrust Science fiction movies into the spotlight from the thirties on, even though they were B grade and generally considered poor quality. The beat generation of the fifties contributed to science fiction in a literary context. For example, Kurt Vonnegut wrote based many of his literary masterpieces of the fifties, sixties, and seventies within a Science fiction setting. Science fiction of this era began to develop a less positive spin on technological development and more of an investigation of consequences. The eighties saw a rekindling of mainstream interest in Science fiction thanks to the epic Star Wars trilogy. New themes, such as the environment, cold war, nuclear weapons, and the internet. Star Trek was the beginning of a proliferation of Science fiction television shows.

Despite having many big name authors and movie producers and television shows associated with it, the reputation of Science fiction in literature is a difficult one. Many people disregard Science fiction as a literary genre, and it is more often than not regarded as pulp. Hence, a best selling Science fiction author is always regarded within the genre, not as a best selling author. Some of this reputation can be attributed to the proliferation of B-grade movies that sprung up from the 1930
s onwards. Much of the writing in the genre is associated with being cheap, quick, and nasty, and Science fiction is often associated with appealing only to young males. However, those who are fans of Science fiction tend to be far more dedicated to their genre of choice than many other readers.

The community that has sprung up around Science fiction also contributes to it's odd reputation in literary circles. Fans meet, converse, go to conventions, and even write slash fiction, or fan fiction, which takes elements of their favourite Science fiction further, or in the direction they want to see it go. The internet has contributed to this phenomena, and fan groups, particularly around Star Trek, have come to characterise the genre of Science fiction just as much as the texts themselves.

Here at Illiterarty, while we aren't adverse to Science fiction, we haven't reviewed a whole lot of it. The Science fiction books that we have reviewed certainly don't fall into the pulp category, but either the literary category or the cult category (Douglas Adams).

Top 10 most popular Science fiction novels on Illiterarty

  1. Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  3. Pattern Recognition by Willam Gibson
  4. The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams
  5. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
  6. Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  7. Life, The Universe, And Everything by Douglas Adams
  8. So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams
  9. Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson
  10. Final Impact by John Birmingham

References

Disclaimer

This entry is written purely for informative purposes, so the readers of Illiterarty.com can better understand how we classify our books and can therefore make more informed choices about what to read. We do not claim to be an authoritative source. Quote us in essays/important documents at your own risk!

Image courtesy of beesparkle.

Blog Type: