Science fiction

Science fiction

Overview
Science fiction is a genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 dealing with imaginary
Imagination
Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses...

 but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

) content such as future
Future
The future is the indefinite time period after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the nature of the reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist is temporary and will come...

 settings, futuristic science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, space travel
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

, aliens
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

, and paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovation
Innovation
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society...

s is one purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".

Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 about alternative possible worlds or futures.
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Encyclopedia
Science fiction is a genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 dealing with imaginary
Imagination
Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses...

 but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

) content such as future
Future
The future is the indefinite time period after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the nature of the reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist is temporary and will come...

 settings, futuristic science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, space travel
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

, aliens
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

, and paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovation
Innovation
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society...

s is one purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".

Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is similar to, but differs from fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 in that, within the context of the story
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).

The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief or "willing suspension of disbelief" is a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction...

, which is facilitated in the reader's mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:
  • A time setting in the future
    Future
    The future is the indefinite time period after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the nature of the reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist is temporary and will come...

    , in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history
    History
    History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

     or the archaeological
    Archaeology
    Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

     record.
  • A spatial setting or scenes in outer space
    Outer space
    Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

     (e.g., spaceflight
    Spaceflight
    Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

    ), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth
    Subterranea (geography)
    Subterranea refers to underground structures, both natural and man-made . Some subterranea include:* Bunker* Casemate* Catacombs* Caves** Ice caves* Cave dwellings, Cave house* Cave temple* Cellar* Cenote* Dungeon...

    .
  • Characters that include aliens
    Extraterrestrial life
    Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

    , mutants
    Mutant (fictional)
    The concept of a mutant is a common trope in comic books and science fiction. The new phenotypes that appear in fictional mutations generally go far beyond what is typically seen in biological mutants, and often result in the mutated life form exhibiting superhuman abilities or qualities.-Marvel...

    , androids, or humanoid
    Humanoid
    A humanoid is something that has an appearance resembling a human being. The term first appeared in 1912 to refer to fossils which were morphologically similar to, but not identical with, those of the human skeleton. Although this usage was common in the sciences for much of the 20th century, it...

     robots.
  • Technology that is futuristic (e.g., ray guns
    Raygun
    Rayguns are a type of fictional directed-energy weapon. They have various alternate names: ray gun, death ray, beam gun, blaster, laser gun, phaser, etc. They are a well-known feature of science fiction; for such stories they typically have the general function of guns...

    , teleportation
    Teleportation
    Teleportation is the fictional or imagined process by which matter is instantaneously transferred from one place to another.Teleportation may also refer to:*Quantum teleportation, a method of transmitting quantum data...

     machines, humanoid computer
    Computer
    A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

    s).
  • Scientific principles that are new or that contradict known laws of nature, for example time travel
    Time travel
    Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

    , wormholes, or faster-than-light
    Faster-than-light
    Faster-than-light communications and travel refer to the propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light....

     travel.
  • New and different political or social systems (e.g. dystopia
    Dystopia
    A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

    , post-scarcity, or a post-apocalyptic situation where organized society has collapsed).
  • Paranormal abilities such as mind control
    Mind control
    Mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator, often to the detriment of the person being manipulated"...

    , telepathy
    Telepathy
    Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

    , telekinesis, and teleportation
    Teleportation
    Teleportation is the fictional or imagined process by which matter is instantaneously transferred from one place to another.Teleportation may also refer to:*Quantum teleportation, a method of transmitting quantum data...

    .

Definitions


Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes
Theme (literature)
A theme is a broad, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character,...

. Author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and editor
Editor
The term editor may refer to:As a person who does editing:* Editor in chief, having final responsibility for a publication's operations and policies* Copy editing, making formatting changes and other improvements to text...

 Damon Knight
Damon Knight
Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.-Biography:...

 summed up the difficulty by stating that "science fiction is what we point to when we say it", a definition echoed by author Mark C. Glassy, who argues that the definition of science fiction is like the definition of pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

: you don't know what it is, but you know it when you see it. Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a multilingual Russian novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist...

 argued that if we were rigorous with our definitions, Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 play The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

would have to be termed science fiction.

According to science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

, "a handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

." Rod Serling
Rod Serling
Rodman Edward "Rod" Serling was an American screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form...

's definition is "fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible." Lester del Rey
Lester del Rey
Lester del Rey was an American science fiction author and editor. Del Rey was the author of many of the Winston Science Fiction juvenile SF series, and the editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction branch of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey.-Birth...

 wrote, "Even the devoted aficionado—or fan—has a hard time trying to explain what science fiction is", and that the reason for there not being a "full satisfactory definition" is that "there are no easily delineated limits to science fiction."

History



As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has antecedents back to mythology, though precursors to science fiction as literature can be seen in Lucian
Lucian
Lucian of Samosata was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.His ethnicity is disputed and is attributed as Assyrian according to Frye and Parpola, and Syrian according to Joseph....

's True History
True History
True History or True Story is a travel tale by the Greek-speaking Syrian author Lucian of Samosata, the earliest known fiction about travelling to outer space, alien life-forms and interplanetary warfare. Written in the 2nd century, the novel has been referred to as "the first known text that...

in the 2nd century, some of the Arabian Nights tales, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
, also known as , is a 10th century Japanese folktale. It is considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative and an early example of proto-science fiction....

in the 10th century, Ibn al-Nafis' Theologus Autodidactus
Theologus Autodidactus
Al-Risalah al-Kamiliyyah fil Siera al-Nabawiyyah , also known as Risālat Fād il ibn Nātiq , was the first theological novel, written by Ibn al-Nafis and later translated in the West as Theologus Autodidactus...

in the 13th century, and Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

's A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax...

in the 19th century.

A product of the budding Age of Reason
Age of reason
Age of reason may refer to:* 17th-century philosophy, as a successor of the Renaissance and a predecessor to the Age of Enlightenment* Age of Enlightenment in its long form of 1600-1800* The Age of Reason, a book by Thomas Paine...

 and the development of modern science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 itself, Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

's Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

was one of the first true science fantasy works, together with Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

's Micromégas
Micromégas
"Micromégas" is a short story by the French philosopher and satirist Voltaire. It is a significant development in the history of literature because it originates ideas which helped create the genre of science fiction....

(1752) and Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

's Somnium
Somnium (Kepler)
Somnium is a fantasy written between 1620 and 1630, in Latin, by Johannes Kepler. In the narrative, a student of Tycho Brahe is transported to the Moon by occult forces. It presents a detailed imaginative description of how the earth might look when viewed from the moon, and is considered the...

(1620–1630). Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

 and Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 consider the latter work the first science fiction story. It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth's motion is seen from there. Another example is Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg, Baron of Holberg was a writer, essayist, philosopher, historian and playwright born in Bergen, Norway, during the time of the Dano-Norwegian double monarchy, who spent most of his adult life in Denmark. He was influenced by Humanism, the Enlightenment and the Baroque...

's novel Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum, 1741. (Translated to Danish by Hans Hagerup in 1742 as Niels Klims underjordiske Rejse.) (Eng. Niels Klim's Underground Travels
Niels Klim's Underground Travels
Niels Klim's Underground Travels, originally published in Latin as Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum , is a satirical science-fiction/fantasy novel written by the Norwegian-Danish author Ludvig Holberg...

.) Brian Aldiss
Brian Aldiss
Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society...

 has argued that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

(1818) was the first work of science fiction.

Following the 18th century development of the novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 as a literary form, in the early 19th century, Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

's books Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

and The Last Man
The Last Man
The Last Man is an apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The novel was harshly reviewed at the time, and was virtually unknown until a scholarly revival beginning in the 1960s...

helped define the form of the science fiction novel; later Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

 wrote a story about a flight to the moon. More examples appeared throughout the 19th century.


Then with the dawn of new technologies such as electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

, the telegraph, and new forms of powered transportation, writers like Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

 and H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 created a body of work that became popular across broad cross-sections of society. Wells' The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds is an 1898 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells.The War of the Worlds may also refer to:- Radio broadcasts :* The War of the Worlds , the 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Welles...

describes an invasion of late Victorian England by Martians using tripod fighting machines equipped with advanced weaponry. It is a seminal depiction of an alien invasion
Alien invasion
The alien invasion is a common theme in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrial life invades Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under a colonial system, harvest humans for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.The...

 of Earth.

In the late 19th century, the term "scientific romance
Scientific romance
Scientific romance is a bygone name for what is now commonly known as science fiction. The term is most associated with early British science fiction. The earliest noteworthy use of the term scientific romance is believed to have been by Charles Howard Hinton in his 1886 collection...

" was used in Britain to describe much of this fiction. This produced additional offshoots, such as the 1884 novella Flatland
Flatland
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Writing pseudonymously as "A Square", Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture...

: A Romance of Many Dimensions
by Edwin Abbott Abbott
Edwin Abbott Abbott
Edwin Abbott Abbott , English schoolmaster and theologian, is best known as the author of the satirical novella Flatland .-Biography:...

. The term would continue to be used into the early 20th century for writers such as Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon
William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.-Life:...

.
In the early 20th century, pulp magazine
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

s helped develop a new generation of mainly American SF writers, influenced by Hugo Gernsback
Hugo Gernsback
Hugo Gernsback , born Hugo Gernsbacher, was a Luxembourgian American inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, best remembered for publications that included the first science fiction magazine. His contributions to the genre as publisher were so significant that, along with H. G...

, the founder of Amazing Stories
Amazing Stories
Amazing Stories was an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction...

magazine. In 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.-Biography:...

 published A Princess of Mars, the first of his three-decade-long series of Barsoom
Barsoom
Barsoom is a fictional representation of the planet Mars created by American pulp fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote close to 100 action adventure stories in various genres in the first half of the 20th century, and is now best known as the creator of the character Tarzan...

 novels, situated on Mars and featuring John Carter as the hero. The 1928 publication of Philip Nolan's original Buck Rogers
Buck Rogers
Anthony Rogers is a fictional character that first appeared in Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan in the August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. A sequel, The Airlords of Han, was published in the March 1929 issue....

 story, Armageddon 2419, in Amazing Stories was a landmark event. This story led to comic strips featuring Buck Rogers (1929), Brick Bradford
Brick Bradford
Brick Bradford was a science fiction comic strip created by writer William Ritt, a journalist based in Cleveland, and artist Clarence Gray. It was first distributed in 1933 by Central Press Association, a subsidiary of King Features Syndicate....

 (1933), and Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon is the hero of a science fiction adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip. Also inspired by these series were comics such as Dash...

 (1934). The comic strips and derivative movie serials greatly popularized science fiction. In the late 1930s, John W. Campbell
John W. Campbell
John Wood Campbell, Jr. was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction , from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in...

 became editor of Astounding Science Fiction, and a critical mass of new writers emerged in New York City in a group called the Futurians
Futurians
The Futurians were a group of science fiction fans, many of whom became editors and writers as well. The Futurians were based in New York City and were a major force in the development of science fiction writing and science fiction fandom in the years 1937-1945.-Origins of the group:As described...

, including Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, Damon Knight
Damon Knight
Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.-Biography:...

, Donald A. Wollheim
Donald A. Wollheim
Donald Allen Wollheim was an American science fiction ' editor, publisher, writer, and fan. As an author, he published under his own name as well as under pseudonyms, including David Grinnell....

, Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years — from his first published work, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna" , to his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led .He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem...

, James Blish
James Blish
James Benjamin Blish was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.-Biography:...

, Judith Merril
Judith Merril
Judith Josephine Grossman , who took the pen-name Judith Merril about 1945, was an American and then Canadian science fiction writer, editor and political activist....

, and others. Other important writers during this period included E.E. (Doc) Smith, Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

, Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

, Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon
William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.-Life:...

, A. E. van Vogt
A. E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded by some as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the "Golden Age" of the genre....

 and Stanisław Lem. Campbell's tenure at Astounding is considered to be the beginning of the Golden Age of science fiction
Golden Age of Science Fiction
The first Golden Age of Science Fiction — often recognized as the period from the late 1930s through the 1950s — was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published...

, characterized by hard SF stories celebrating scientific achievement and progress. This lasted until postwar technological advances, new magazines like Galaxy under Pohl as editor, and a new generation of writers began writing stories outside the Campbell mode.

In the 1950s, the Beat generation
Beat generation
The Beat Generation refers to a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired...

 included speculative writers like William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs
William Seward Burroughs II was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th...

. In the 1960s and early 1970s, writers like Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

, Samuel R. Delany
Samuel R. Delany
Samuel Ray Delany, Jr., also known as "Chip" is an American author, professor and literary critic. His work includes a number of novels, many in the science fiction genre, as well as memoir, criticism, and essays on sexuality and society.His science fiction novels include Babel-17, The Einstein...

, Roger Zelazny
Roger Zelazny
Roger Joseph Zelazny was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for his The Chronicles of Amber series...

, and Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison
Harlan Jay Ellison is an American writer. His principal genre is speculative fiction.His published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media...

 explored new trends, ideas, and writing styles, while a group of writers, mainly in Britain, became known as the New Wave
New Wave (science fiction)
New Wave is a term applied to science fiction produced in the 1960s and 1970s and characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, a "literary" or artistic sensibility, and a focus on "soft" as opposed to hard science. The term "New Wave" is borrowed from the French...

 for their embrace of a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility. In the 1970s, writers like Larry Niven
Larry Niven
Laurence van Cott Niven / ˈlæri ˈnɪvən/ is an American science fiction author. His best-known work is Ringworld , which received Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics...

 and Poul Anderson
Poul Anderson
Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories...

 began to redefine hard SF. Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 and others pioneered soft science fiction.

In the 1980s, cyberpunk
Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

 authors like William Gibson
William Gibson
William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction author.William Gibson may also refer to:-Association football:*Will Gibson , Scottish footballer...

 turned away from the optimism
Optimism
The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Being optimistic, in the typical sense...

 and support for progress of traditional science fiction. The Star Wars franchise helped spark a new interest in space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

, focusing more on story and character than on scientific accuracy. C. J. Cherryh
C. J. Cherryh
Carolyn Janice Cherry , better known by the pen name C. J. Cherryh, is a United States science fiction and fantasy author...

's detailed explorations of alien
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 life and complex scientific challenges influenced a generation of writers. Emerging themes in the 1990s included environmental issues, the implications of the global Internet and the expanding information universe, questions about biotechnology
Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

 and nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

, as well as a post-Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 interest in post-scarcity societies; Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson
Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known for his works of speculative fiction.Difficult to categorize, his novels have been variously referred to as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk...

's The Diamond Age
The Diamond Age
The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is a postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It is to some extent a science fiction bildungsroman, focused on a young girl named Nell, and set in a future world in which nanotechnology affects all aspects of life. The novel deals with themes of...

comprehensively explores these themes. Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold is an American author of science fiction and fantasy works. Bujold is one of the most acclaimed writers in her field, having won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein's record. Her novella The Mountains of Mourning won both the Hugo...

's Vorkosigan
Vorkosigan Saga
The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of science fiction novels and short stories set in a common fictional universe by American author Lois McMaster Bujold. Most of these were published between 1986 and 2002, with the exceptions being “Winterfair Gifts” and Cryoburn...

novels brought the character-driven story back into prominence. The television series Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

(1987) began a torrent of new SF shows, including three further Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

spin-off shows and Babylon 5
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

. Concern about the rapid pace of technological change crystallized around the concept of the technological singularity
Technological singularity
Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

, popularized by Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep , A Deepness in the Sky , Rainbows End , Fast Times at Fairmont High ...

's novel Marooned in Realtime
Marooned in Realtime
Marooned in Realtime is a 1986 murder mystery and time-travel science fiction novel by American writer Vernor Vinge, about a small, time-displaced group of people who may be the only survivors of a technological singularity or alien invasion. It is the sequel to The Peace War and "The Ungoverned"...

and then taken up by other authors.

The term "sci-fi"


Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan...

 used the term sci-fi (analogous to the then-trendy "hi-fi") at UCLA in 1954. As science fiction entered popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

, writers and fans active in the field came to associate the term with low-budget, low-tech "B-movies
B movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

" and with low-quality pulp science fiction
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

. By the 1970s, critics within the field such as Terry Carr
Terry Carr
Terry Gene Carr was a U.S. science fiction author, editor, and teacher.Terry Carr was born in Grants Pass, Oregon...

 and Damon Knight
Damon Knight
Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.-Biography:...

 were using sci-fi to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction, and around 1978, Susan Wood
Susan Wood (science fiction)
Susan Joan Wood Susan Joan Wood Susan Joan Wood (August 22, 1948-November 12, 1980 was a Canadian author, critic, and science fiction fan, born in Ottawa, Ontario.Wood discovered science fiction fandom while she was studying at Carleton University in the 1960s. Wood met fellow fan Mike Glicksohn of...

 and others introduced the pronunciation "skiffy
Skiffy
Skiffy is a deliberate humorous misspelling or mispronunciation of the controversial term "sci-fi", a neologism referring to science fiction. Like the term "sci-fi" itself, "skiffy" may be used in a pejorative sense, but is more usually used to indicate that the writer or speaker is aware of the...

". Peter Nicholls writes that "SF" (or "sf") is "the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers". David Langford
David Langford
David Rowland Langford is a British author, editor and critic, largely active within the science fiction field. He publishes the science fiction fanzine and newsletter Ansible.-Personal background:...

's monthly fanzine Ansible
Ansible
An ansible is a hypothetical machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal communication. Ansibles occur as plot devices in science fiction literature.- Origin :The word ansible was coined by Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1966 novel, Rocannon's World...

includes a regular section "As Others See Us" which offers numerous examples of "sci-fi" being used in a pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 sense by people outside the genre. The abbreviation SF (or sf) is commonly used instead of "sci-fi".

Innovation


While SF has provided criticism of developing and future technologies, it also produces innovation
Innovation
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society...

 and new technology. The discussion of this topic has occurred more in literary and sociological than in scientific forums. Cinema and media theorist Vivian Sobchack
Vivian Sobchack
Vivian Sobchack is an American cinema and media theorist and cultural critic.Sobchack's work on science fiction films and phenomenology of film is perhaps her most recognized. She is a prolific writer however, and has authored numerous books and articles across a diverse range of subjects; from...

 examines the dialogue between science fiction film and the technological imagination. Technology impacts artists and how they portray their fictionalized subjects, but the fictional world gives back to science by broadening imagination. While more prevalent in the beginning years of science fiction with writers like Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

, new authors still find ways to make the currently impossible technologies seem closer to being realized.

Subgenres



Authors and filmmakers draw on a wide spectrum of ideas, but marketing departments and literary critics
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

 tend to separate such literary and cinematic works into different categories, or "genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s", and subgenres. Such categorization is problematic, because these subcategories are not simple pigeonholes. Some works may overlap two or more commonly defined genres, whereas others are beyond the generic boundaries, either outside or between categories. Moreover, the categories and genres used by mass markets and literary criticism differ considerably. One example that straddles science fiction subgenres is Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Her novel The Speed of Dark won the 2003 Nebula Award.-Biography:...

's Vatta's War
Vatta's War
Vatta's War is a science fiction series by Texan writer Elizabeth Moon, comprising five books: Trading in Danger , Marque and Reprisal , Engaging the Enemy , Command Decision , and Victory Conditions...

 series, which has been described by many as military science fiction
Military science fiction
Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction in which the principal characters are members of a military service and an armed conflict is taking place, normally in space, or on a planet other than Earth...

 but also has elements of space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

.

Hard SF



Hard science fiction, or "hard SF", is characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

, and chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, or on accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible. Many accurate predictions of the future come from the hard science fiction
Hard science fiction
Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both. The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Islands of Space in Astounding Science...

 subgenre, but numerous inaccurate predictions have emerged as well. Some hard SF authors have distinguished themselves as working scientists, including Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine...

, Geoffrey A. Landis
Geoffrey A. Landis
Geoffrey A. Landis is an American scientist, working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on planetary exploration, interstellar propulsion, solar power and photovoltaics...

 and David Brin
David Brin
Glen David Brin, Ph.D. is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards.-Biography:...

, while mathematician authors include Rudy Rucker
Rudy Rucker
Rudolf von Bitter Rucker is an American mathematician, computer scientist, science fiction author, and philosopher, and is one of the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement. The author of both fiction and non-fiction, he is best known for the novels in the Ware Tetralogy, the first two of...

 and Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep , A Deepness in the Sky , Rainbows End , Fast Times at Fairmont High ...

. Other noteworthy hard SF authors include Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

, Hal Clement
Hal Clement
Harry Clement Stubbs better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre.-Biography:...

, Greg Bear
Greg Bear
Gregory Dale Bear is an American science fiction and mainstream author. His work has covered themes of galactic conflict , artificial universes , consciousness and cultural practices , and accelerated evolution...

, Larry Niven
Larry Niven
Laurence van Cott Niven / ˈlæri ˈnɪvən/ is an American science fiction author. His best-known work is Ringworld , which received Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics...

, Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer
Robert James Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer. He has had 20 novels published, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and many anthologies. Sawyer has won over forty awards for his fiction, including the Nebula Award ,...

, Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard science fiction author. He has degrees in mathematics and engineering.- Writing style :...

, Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Preston Reynolds is a British science fiction author. He specialises in dark hard science fiction and space opera. He spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle, where he read physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from St Andrews, Scotland...

, Charles Sheffield
Charles Sheffield
Charles Sheffield , was an English-born mathematician, physicist and science fiction author. He had been a President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society....

, Ben Bova
Ben Bova
Benjamin William Bova is an American science-fiction author and editor. He is the recipient of six Hugo Awards for Best Professional Editor for his work at Analog Science Fiction in the 1970's.-Personal life:...

, Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer known for his award-winning Mars trilogy. His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the fifteen years of research...

 and Greg Egan
Greg Egan
Greg Egan is an Australian science fiction author.Egan published his first work in 1983. He specialises in hard science fiction stories with mathematical and quantum ontology themes, including the nature of consciousness...

.

Soft and social SF



The description "soft" science fiction may describe works based on social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 such as psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, and anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

. Noteworthy writers in this category include Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 and Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...

. The term can describe stories focused primarily on character and emotion; SFWA Grand Master Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

 is an acknowledged master of this art. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 produced a quantity of social science fiction, including works by the Strugatsky brothers, Kir Bulychov, Yevgeny Zamyatin
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was a Russian author of science fiction and political satire. Despite having been a prominent Old Bolshevik, Zamyatin was deeply disturbed by the policies pursued by the CPSU following the October Revolution...

 and Ivan Yefremov. Some writers blur the boundary between hard and soft science fiction.

Related to Social SF and Soft SF are the speculative fiction
Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as...

 branches of utopian or dystopian stories; George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

, Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's Brave New World
Brave New World
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's fifth novel, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 , the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of...

and Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; she is a winner of the Arthur C...

's The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985...

, are examples. Satirical novels with fantastic settings such as Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

by Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 may be considered speculative fiction.

Cyberpunk



The cyberpunk genre emerged in the early 1980s; combining cybernetics
Cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

and punk,
the term was coined by author Bruce Bethke
Bruce Bethke
Bruce Bethke is an American author, best known for his 1983 short story "Cyberpunk" which led to the widespread use of the term, and his novel, Headcrash....

 for his 1980 short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 "Cyberpunk".
The time frame is usually near-future and the settings are often dystopian in nature and characterized by misery. Common themes in cyberpunk include advances in information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 and especially the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, visually abstracted as cyberspace
Cyberspace
Cyberspace is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.The term "cyberspace" was first used by the cyberpunk science fiction author William Gibson, though the concept was described somewhat earlier, for example in the Vernor Vinge short story "True...

, artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 and prosthetics and post-democratic societal control where corporations have more influence than governments. Nihilism
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

, post-modernism, and film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 techniques are common elements, and the protagonists may be disaffected or reluctant anti-hero
Anti-hero
In fiction, an antihero is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis in which the character is generally useless at being a hero or heroine when they're...

es. Noteworthy authors in this genre are William Gibson
William Gibson
William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction author.William Gibson may also refer to:-Association football:*Will Gibson , Scottish footballer...

, Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling
Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

, Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson
Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known for his works of speculative fiction.Difficult to categorize, his novels have been variously referred to as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk...

, and Pat Cadigan. James O'Ehley has called the 1982 film Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

a definitive example of the cyberpunk visual style.

Time travel


Time travel stories have antecedents in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first major time travel novel was Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The book was originally titled A Yankee in King Arthur's Court...

. The most famous is H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

's 1895 novel The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

, which uses a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively, while Twain's time traveler is struck in the head. The term "time machine
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. Stories of this type are complicated by logical problems such as the grandfather paradox
Grandfather paradox
The grandfather paradox is a proposed paradox of time travel first described by the science fiction writer René Barjavel in his 1943 book Le Voyageur Imprudent . The paradox is this: suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler's...

. Time travel continues to be a popular subject in modern science fiction, in print, movies, and television such as the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 television series Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

.

Alternate history



Alternate (or alternative) history stories are based on the premise that historical events might have turned out differently. These stories may use time travel to change the past, or may simply set a story in a universe with a different history from our own. Classics in the genre include Bring the Jubilee
Bring the Jubilee
Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore is a 1953 novel of alternate history. The point of divergence occurs when the Confederate States of America wins the Battle of Gettysburg and subsequently declares victory in the "War of Southron Independence" on July 4, 1864 after the surrender of the United States...

by Ward Moore
Ward Moore
Ward Moore was the working name of American author Joseph Ward Moore. Moore grew up in New York City, and later moved to Chicago, and then to California....

, in which the South wins the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, and The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle is a science fiction alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It won a Hugo Award in 1963 and has since been translated into many languages....

by Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...

, in which Germany and Japan win World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The Sidewise Award
Sidewise Award for Alternate History
The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were established in 1995 to recognize the best alternate history stories and novels of the year.The awards take their name from the 1934 short story "Sidewise in Time" by Murray Leinster, in which a strange storm causes portions of Earth to swap places with...

 acknowledges the best works in this subgenre; the name is taken from Murray Leinster
Murray Leinster
Murray Leinster was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning American writer of science fiction and alternate history...

's 1934 story "Sidewise in Time
Sidewise in Time
"Sidewise in Time" is a science fiction short story by Murray Leinster that was first published in the June 1934 issue of Astounding Stories...

." Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.- Life :...

 is one of the most prominent authors in the subgenre and is sometimes called the "master of alternate history".

Military SF


Military science fiction
Military science fiction
Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction in which the principal characters are members of a military service and an armed conflict is taking place, normally in space, or on a planet other than Earth...

 is set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

; the primary viewpoint characters are usually soldiers. Stories include detail about military technology, procedure, ritual, and history; military stories may use parallels with historical conflicts. Heinlein's Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and published hardcover in December, 1959.The first-person narrative is about a young soldier from the Philippines named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his...

is an early example, along with the Dorsai novels of Gordon Dickson. Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman
Joe William Haldeman is an American science fiction author.-Life :Haldeman was born June 9, 1943 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His family traveled and he lived in Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Maryland and Anchorage, Alaska as a child. Haldeman married Mary Gay Potter, known...

's The Forever War
The Forever War
The Forever War is a science fiction novel by American author Joe Haldeman, telling the contemplative story of soldiers fighting an interstellar war between humanity and the enigmatic Tauran species...

is a critique of the genre, a Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

-era response to the World War II–style stories of earlier authors. Prominent military SF authors include John Ringo
John Ringo
John Ringo is an American science fiction and military fiction author. He has had several New York Times best sellers. His books range from straightforward science fiction to a mix of military and political thrillers...

, David Drake
David Drake
David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the premier authors of the military science fiction subgenre.-Biography:...

, David Weber
David Weber
David Mark Weber is an American science fiction and fantasy author. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Weber and his wife Sharon live in Greenville, South Carolina with their three children and "a passel of dogs"....

, and S. M. Stirling
S. M. Stirling
Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. Stirling is probably best known for his Draka series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history Nantucket series and Emberverse series.-Personal:Stirling was born on...

. The publishing company Baen Books
Baen Books
Baen Books is an American publishing company established in 1983 by long time science fiction publisher and editor Jim Baen. It is a science fiction and fantasy publishing house that emphasizes space opera, hard science fiction, military science fiction, and fantasy...

 is known for cultivating military science fiction authors.

Superhuman


Superhuman stories deal with the emergence of humans who have abilities beyond the norm. This can stem either from natural causes such as in Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon
William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.-Life:...

's novel Odd John
Odd John
Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest is a 1935 science fiction novel by the British author Olaf Stapledon. The novel explores the theme of the Übermensch in the character of John Wainwright, whose supernormal human mentality inevitably leads to conflict with normal human society and to the...

, and Theodore Sturgeon
Theodore Sturgeon
Theodore Sturgeon was an American science fiction author.His most famous novel is More Than Human .-Biography:...

's More Than Human
More Than Human
More Than Human is a 1953 science fiction novel by Theodore Sturgeon. It is a fix-up of his previously published novella Baby is Three with two parts written especially for the novel....

, or be the result of intentional augmentation such as in A. E. van Vogt
A. E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded by some as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the "Golden Age" of the genre....

's novel Slan
Slan
Slan is a science fiction novel written by A. E. van Vogt, as well as the name of the fictional race of superbeings featured in the novel. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction . It was subsequently published in hardcover in 1946 by Arkham House, in an...

. These stories usually focus on the alienation that these beings feel as well as society's reaction to them. These stories have played a role in the real life discussion of human enhancement
Human enhancement
Human enhancement refers to any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means...

. Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years — from his first published work, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna" , to his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led .He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem...

's Man Plus
Man Plus
Man Plus is a 1976 science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1976, was nominated for the Hugo and Campbell Awards, and placed third in the annual Locus Poll in 1977. Pohl teamed up with Thomas T. Thomas to write a sequel, Mars Plus, published in 1994.-Plot...

also belongs to this category.

Apocalyptic



Apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of civilization through war (On the Beach), pandemic (The Last Man
The Last Man
The Last Man is an apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The novel was harshly reviewed at the time, and was virtually unknown until a scholarly revival beginning in the 1960s...

), astronomic impact (When Worlds Collide
When Worlds Collide
When Worlds Collide is a 1933 science fiction novel co-written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer; they both also co-authored the sequel After Worlds Collide...

), ecological disaster (The Wind from Nowhere
The Wind From Nowhere
The Wind from Nowhere, first published in 1961 is the debut novel by English author J.G. Ballard. Prior to this, his published work had consisted solely of short stories....

), or some other general disaster
Disaster
A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard that has come to fruition, resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment...

 or with a world or civilization after such a disaster. Typical of the genre are George R. Stewart
George R. Stewart
George Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley...

's novel Earth Abides
Earth Abides
Earth Abides is a 1949 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer George R. Stewart. It tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its rebirth. Beginning in the United States in the 1940s, it deals with Isherwood "Ish" Williams, Emma, and the community they...

and Pat Frank's novel Alas, Babylon
Alas, Babylon
Alas, Babylon is a 1959 novel by American writer Pat Frank . It was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and remains popular fifty years after it was first published...

. Apocalyptic fiction generally concerns the disaster itself and the direct aftermath, while post-apocalyptic can deal with anything from the near aftermath (as in Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and modernist genres. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road...

's The Road
The Road
The Road is a 2006 novel by the American author Cormac McCarthy.The Road may also refer to:* The Road , a 2001 Kazakhstani film* The Road , a 2009 film adaptation of the McCarthy novel...

) to 375 years in the future (as in By The Waters of Babylon) to hundreds or thousands of years in the future, as in Russell Hoban
Russell Hoban
Russell Conwell Hoban is an American writer, now living in England, of fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, magic realism, poetry, and children's books-Biography:...

's novel Riddley Walker
Riddley Walker
Riddley Walker is a science fiction novel by Russell Hoban, first published in 1980. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel in 1982, as well as an Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award in 1983...

and Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Walter Michael Miller, Jr. was an American science fiction author. Today he is primarily known for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Prior to its publication he was a prolific writer of short stories.- Biography :Miller was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida...

's A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer Walter M. Miller, Jr., first published in 1960. Set in a Roman Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as...

.

Space opera



Space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

 is adventure science fiction set in outer space or on distant planets, where the emphasis is on action rather than either science or characterization. The conflict is heroic, and typically on a large scale.

Space opera is sometimes used pejoratively, to describe improbable plots, absurd science, and cardboard characters. But it is also used nostalgically, and modern space opera may be an attempt to recapture the sense of wonder
Sense of wonder
A sense of wonder is an intellectual and emotional state frequently invoked in discussions of science fiction. It is an emotional reaction to the reader suddenly confronting, understanding, or seeing a concept anew in the context of new information....

 of the golden age of science fiction
Golden Age of Science Fiction
The first Golden Age of Science Fiction — often recognized as the period from the late 1930s through the 1950s — was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published...

. The pioneer of this subgenre is generally recognized to be Edward E. (Doc) Smith
E. E. Smith
Edward Elmer Smith, Ph.D., also, E. E. Smith, E. E. "Doc" Smith, Doc Smith, "Skylark" Smith, and Ted was a food engineer and early science fiction author who wrote the Lensman series and the Skylark series, among others...

, with his Skylark
Skylark (series)
Skylark is a science fiction/space opera series by the late E. E. "Doc" Smith. The first book The Skylark of Space is revolutionary in the genre, in which a scientist discovers a space-drive, builds a starship, and flies off with three companions to encounter alien civilizations and fight a...

and Lensman
Lensman
The Lensman series is a serial science fiction space opera by Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith. It was a runner-up for the Hugo award for best All-Time Series ....

series. The Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 television series franchise is often described as space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

 that encourages this sense of wonder, in that most of the scripts are generally about peaceful space exploration and examinations of cultural differences rather than about conflict between civilizations. Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Preston Reynolds is a British science fiction author. He specialises in dark hard science fiction and space opera. He spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle, where he read physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from St Andrews, Scotland...

's Revelation Space
Revelation Space
Revelation Space is a 2000 science fiction space opera novel by Welsh author Alastair Reynolds. It was the first novel set in the Revelation Space universe, although the then-unnamed universe had already been established by several published short stories....

series, Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton is a British author. He is best known for writing space opera. As of the publication of his tenth novel in 2004, his works had sold over two million copies worldwide.- Biography :...

's The Dreaming Void
The Dreaming Void
The Dreaming Void is a science fiction novel by British writer Peter F. Hamilton, the first in his Void Trilogy.-Plot summary:At the centre of the Milky Way galaxy an object called the Void resembles a massive black hole. The Void is not a natural system. Inside there is a strange universe where...

, The Night's Dawn and Pandora's Star series, and Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep , A Deepness in the Sky , Rainbows End , Fast Times at Fairmont High ...

's A Fire Upon the Deep
A Fire Upon the Deep
A Fire Upon the Deep is a science fiction novel by American writer Vernor Vinge, a space opera involving superhuman intelligences, aliens, variable physics, space battles, love, betrayal, genocide, and a conversation medium resembling Usenet...

and A Deepness in the Sky
A Deepness in the Sky
A Deepness in the Sky is a Hugo Award–winning science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge. Published in 1999, the novel is a loose prequel to his earlier novel A Fire Upon the Deep...

are newer examples of this genre.

Space Western



Space Western could be considered a sub-genre of space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

 that transposes themes of the American Western
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers. These stories typically involve "frontier" colony worlds (colonies that have only recently been terraformed and/or settled) serving as stand-ins for the backdrop of lawlessness and economic expansion that were predominant in the American west. Examples include the Sean Connery film Outland
Outland (film)
Outland is a 1981 British science fiction thriller film written and directed by Peter Hyams.Set on Jupiter's moon Io, it has been described as a space Western, and bears thematic resemblances to High Noon....

, the Firefly
Firefly (TV series)
Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear....

television series, and the film sequel Serenity
Serenity (film)
Serenity is a 2005 space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of the short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly, taking place after the events of the final episode. Set in 2518, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of a cargo ship...

by Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon
Joseph Hill "Joss" Whedon is an American screenwriter, executive producer, director, comic book writer, occasional composer and actor, founder of Mutant Enemy Productions and co-creator of Bellwether Pictures...

, as well as the manga
Manga
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

 and anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 series Trigun
Trigun
is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yasuhiro Nightow, published from 1996 to 2008 and spanning 17 collected volumes....

, Outlaw Star
Outlaw Star
is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Itō and his affiliated Morning Star Studio. The series is a space opera/Space Western that takes place in the "Toward Stars Era" universe in which spacecraft are capable of traveling faster than the speed of light...

, and Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop
is a critically acclaimed and award-winning 1998 Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto, and produced by Sunrise. Its 26 episodes comprise a complete storyline: set in 2071, the series follows the adventures, misadventures and tragedies of five bounty...

.

Other sub-genres



  • Feminist science fiction
    Feminist science fiction
    Feminist science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction which tends to deal with women's roles in society. Feminist science fiction poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and...

     poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women. Some of the most notable feminist science fiction works have illustrated these themes using utopia
    Utopia
    Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

    s to explore a society in which gender differences or gender power imbalances do not exist, or dystopia
    Dystopia
    A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

    s to explore worlds in which gender inequalities are intensified, thus asserting a need for feminist work to continue. Joanna Russ
    Joanna Russ
    Joanna Russ was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women's Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children's book, Kittatinny...

    's work, and some of Ursula Le Guin's work can be thus categorised.
  • Steampunk
    Steampunk
    Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United...

     is based on the idea of futuristic technology existing in the past, usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era
    Victorian era
    The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

     England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy
    Fantasy
    Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

    , such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells
    H. G. Wells
    Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

     and Jules Verne
    Jules Verne
    Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

    , or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Popular examples include The Difference Engine
    The Difference Engine
    The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer .The novel was...

    by William Gibson
    William Gibson
    William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction author.William Gibson may also refer to:-Association football:*Will Gibson , Scottish footballer...

     and Bruce Sterling
    Bruce Sterling
    Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

    , as well as the Girl Genius
    Girl Genius
    Girl Genius is an ongoing comic book series turned webcomic, written and drawn by Phil and Kaja Foglio and published by their company, Studio Foglio LLC under the imprint Airship Entertainment...

    series by Phil and Kaja Foglio
    Phil Foglio
    Philip "Phil" Foglio is an American cartoonist and comic book artist best known for his humorous science fiction and fantasy work.-Early life and career:...

    , although seeds of the genre may be seen in certain works of Michael Moorcock
    Michael Moorcock
    Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

    , Philip Jose Farmer
    Philip José Farmer
    Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories....

     and Steve Stiles, and in such games as Space 1889 and Marcus Rowland's Forgotten Futures
    Forgotten Futures
    Forgotten Futures is a role-playing game created by Marcus Rowland to allow people to play in settings inspired by Victorian and Edwardian science fiction and fantasy...

    . Machines are most often powered by steam in this genre (hence the name).
  • Comic science fiction
    Comic science fiction
    Comic science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that exploits the genre's conventions for comic effect. Comic science fiction often mocks or satirizes standard SF conventions like alien invasion of Earth, interstellar travel, or futuristic technology....

     is a sub-genre that exploits the genre's conventions for comic effect.
  • Anthropological science fiction
    Anthropological science fiction
    The American Anthropological Association defines anthropology as “the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and...

     is a sub-genre that absorbs and discusses anthropology and the study of human kind. Examples include Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer
    Robert J. Sawyer
    Robert James Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer. He has had 20 novels published, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and many anthologies. Sawyer has won over forty awards for his fiction, including the Nebula Award ,...

    , and Neanderthal
    Neanderthal (novel)
    Neanderthal is a 1996 bestselling novel written by John Darnton.-Plot introduction:The plot of Neanderthal revolves around two rival scientists, Matt Mattison and Susan Arnot, who are sent by the United States government to search for missing anthropologist James Kellicut. Their only clue for their...

     by John Darnton.
  • Biopunk
    Biopunk
    Biopunk is a term used to describe:# A hobbyist who experiments with DNA and other aspects of genetics.# A technoprogressive movement advocating open access to genetic information....

     focuses on biotechnology and subversives.

Speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror



The broader category of speculative fiction
Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as...

 includes science fiction, fantasy, alternate histories (which may have no particular scientific or futuristic component), and even literary stories that contain fantastic elements, such as the work of Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 or John Barth
John Barth
John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.-Life:...

. For some editors, magic realism
Magic realism
Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of...

 is considered to be within the broad definition of speculative fiction.

Fantasy



Fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 is closely associated with science fiction, and many writers have worked in both genres, while writers such as Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey
Anne Inez McCaffrey was an American-born Irish writer, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. Over the course of her 46 year career she won a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award...

, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series. Many critics have noted a feminist perspective in her writing. Her first child, David R...

 have written works that appear to blur the boundary between the two related genres. The authors' professional organization is called the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, or SFWA is a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers. It was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight under the name Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. and it retains the acronym SFWA after a very brief use of the SFFWA...

 (SFWA). SF conventions routinely have programming on fantasy topics, and fantasy author
Fantasy author
The definition of a fantasy author is somewhat diffuse, and a matter of opinion – Jules Verne considered H. G. Wells to be a fantasy author – and there is considerable overlap with science fiction authors and horror fiction authors...

s such as J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 have won the highest honor within the science fiction field, the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

.

In general, science fiction differs from fantasy in that the former concerns things that might someday be possible or that at least embody the pretense of realism. Supernaturalism, usually absent in science fiction, is the distinctive characteristic of fantasy literature. A dictionary definition referring to fantasy literature is “fiction characterized by highly fanciful or supernatural elements.” Examples of fantasy supernaturalism include magic (spells, harm to opponents), magical places (Narnia, Oz, Middle Earth, Hogwarts), supernatural creatures (witches, vampires, orcs, trolls), supernatural transportation (flying broomsticks, ruby slippers, windows between worlds), and shapeshifting (beast into man, man into wolf or bear, lion into sheep). Such things are basic themes in fantasy
Fantasy tropes and conventions
There are many elements that occur throughout the fantasy genre in different guises. Worldbuilding, in particular, has many common conventions as do, to a lesser extent, plot, and characterization....

. Literary critic Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends—he once described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism...

 has characterized the difference between the two genres by describing science fiction as turning "on a formal framework determined by concepts of the mode of production
Mode of production
In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production is a specific combination of:...

 rather than those of religion" - that is, science fiction texts are bound by an inner logic based more on historical materialism
Historical materialism
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

 than on magic or the forces of good and evil. Some narratives are described as being essentially science fiction but "with fantasy elements". The term "science fantasy
Science fantasy
Science fantasy is a mixed genre within speculative fiction drawing elements from both science fiction and fantasy. Although in some terms of its portrayal in recent media products it can be defined as instead of being a mixed genre of science fiction and fantasy it is instead a mixing of the...

" is sometimes used to describe such material.

Horror fiction



Horror fiction is the literature of the unnatural and supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

, with the aim of unsettling or frightening the reader, sometimes with graphic violence
Graphic violence
Graphic violence is the depiction of especially vivid, brutal and realistic acts of violence in visual media such as literature, film, television, and video games...

. Historically it has also been known as weird fiction
Weird fiction
Weird fiction is a subgenre of speculative fiction written in the late 19th and early 20th century. It can be said to encompass the ghost story and other tales of the macabre. Weird fiction is distinguished from horror and fantasy in that it predates the niche marketing of genre fiction...

. Although horror is not per se a branch of science fiction, many works of horror literature incorporates science fictional elements. One of the defining classical works of horror, Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

's novel Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

, is the first fully realized work of science fiction, where the manufacture of the monster is given a rigorous science-fictional grounding. The works of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

 also helped define both the science fiction and the horror genres. Today horror is one of the most popular categories of films. Horror is often mistakenly categorized as science fiction at the point of distribution by libraries, video rental outlets, etc. For example, Syfy
Syfy
Syfy , formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel and SCI FI, is an American cable television channel featuring science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal, a...

 (distributed via cable
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

 and satellite television
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

) currently devotes most its air time
Broadcasting
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 to horror films with very few science fiction titles.

Mystery fiction



Works in which science and technology are a dominant theme, but based on current reality, may be considered mainstream fiction. Much of the thriller genre would be included, such as the novels of Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy
Thomas Leo "Tom" Clancy, Jr. is an American author, best known for his technically detailed espionage, military science, and techno thriller storylines set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games on which he did not work, but which bear his name for licensing and...

 or Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
John Michael Crichton , best known as Michael Crichton, was an American best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted...

, or the James Bond
James Bond (film series)
The James Bond film series is a British series of motion pictures based on the fictional character of MI6 agent James Bond , who originally appeared in a series of books by Ian Fleming. Earlier films were based on Fleming's novels and short stories, followed later by films with original storylines...

 films. Modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 works from writers like Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

, Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...

, and Stanisław Lem have focused on speculative or existential
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 perspectives on contemporary reality and are on the borderline between SF and the mainstream. According to Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer
Robert James Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer. He has had 20 novels published, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and many anthologies. Sawyer has won over forty awards for his fiction, including the Nebula Award ,...

, "Science fiction and mystery have a great deal in common. Both prize the intellectual process of puzzle solving, and both require stories to be plausible and hinge on the way things really do work." Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley
Walter Ellis Mosley is an American novelist, most widely recognized for his crime fiction. He has written a series of best-selling historical mysteries featuring the hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, a black private investigator and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los...

, and other writers incorporate mystery elements in their science fiction, and vice versa.

Superhero fiction



Superhero fiction is a genre characterized by beings with much higher than usual capability and prowess, generally with a desire or need to help the citizens of their chosen country or world by using his or her powers to defeat natural or superpowered threats. Many superhero fiction characters involve themselves (either intentionally or accidentally) with science fiction and fact, including advanced technologies, alien worlds, time travel, and interdimensional travel; but the standards of scientific plausibility are lower than with actual science fiction. Authors of this genre include Stan Lee
Stan Lee
Stan Lee is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics....

 (co-creator of Spider-Man
Spider-Man
Spider-Man is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15...

, the Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four is a fictional superhero team appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The group debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 , which helped to usher in a new level of realism in the medium...

, the X-Men
X-Men
The X-Men are a superhero team in the . They were created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The X-Men #1...

, and the Hulk
Hulk (comics)
The Hulk is a fictional character, a superhero in the . Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 ....

); Marv Wolfman
Marv Wolfman
Marvin A. "Marv" Wolfman is an award-winning American comic book writer. He is best known for lengthy runs on The Tomb of Dracula, creating Blade for Marvel Comics, and The New Teen Titans for DC Comics.-1960s:...

, the creator of Blade
Blade (comics)
Blade is a fictional character, a superhero/vampire hunter in the Marvel Comics universe. Created by writer Marv Wolfman and penciller Gene Colan, his first appearance was in the comic book The Tomb of Dracula #10 as a supporting character.The character went on to alternatively star and co-star...

for Marvel Comics, and The New Teen Titans for DC Comics; Dean Wesley Smith
Dean Wesley Smith
Dean Wesley Smith is a science fiction author, known primarily for his Star Trek novels, movie novelizations, and other novels of licensed properties such as Smallville, Spider-Man, X-Men, Aliens, Roswell, Men in Black, and Quantum Leap...

 (Smallville
Smallville
Smallville is the hometown of Superman in comic books published by DC Comics. While growing up in Smallville, the young Clark Kent attended Smallville High with best friends Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan and Pete Ross...

, Spider-Man
Spider-Man
Spider-Man is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15...

, and X-Men
X-Men
The X-Men are a superhero team in the . They were created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The X-Men #1...

novels) and Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

writers Roger Stern
Roger Stern
Roger Stern is an American comic book author and novelist.-Early career:In the early 1970s, Stern and Bob Layton published the fanzine CPL , one of the first platforms for the work of John Byrne...

 and Elliot S! Maggin
Elliot S! Maggin
Elliot S. Maggin, also spelled Elliot S! Maggin , is an American writer of comic books, film, television and novels. He was a main writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics in the 1970s and 1980s...

.

Fandom and community



Science fiction fandom
Science fiction fandom
Science fiction fandom or SF fandom is a community or "fandom" of people actively interested in science fiction and fantasy and in contact with one another based upon that interest...

 is the "community of the literature of ideas... the culture in which new ideas emerge and grow before being released into society at large". Members of this community, "fans
Fan (person)
A Fan, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person with a liking and enthusiasm for something, such as a band or a sports team. Fans of a particular thing or person constitute its fanbase or fandom...

", are in contact with each other at conventions or clubs, through print or online fanzines, or on the Internet using web sites, mailing list
Mailing list
A mailing list is a collection of names and addresses used by an individual or an organization to send material to multiple recipients. The term is often extended to include the people subscribed to such a list, so the group of subscribers is referred to as "the mailing list", or simply "the...

s, and other resources.

SF fandom emerged from the letters column in Amazing Stories magazine. Soon fans began writing letters to each other, and then grouping their comments together in informal publications that became known as fanzines. Once they were in regular contact, fans wanted to meet each other, and they organized local clubs. In the 1930s, the first science fiction conventions gathered fans from a wider area. Conventions, clubs, and fanzines were the dominant form of fan activity, or "fanac", for decades, until the Internet facilitated communication among a much larger population of interested people.

Awards



Among the most respected awards for science fiction are the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

, presented by the World Science Fiction Society at Worldcon, and the Nebula Award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

, presented by SFWA and voted on by the community of authors. One notable award for science fiction films is the Saturn Award
Saturn Award
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed in 1972, who felt that films within...

. It is presented annually by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

There are national awards, like Canada's Aurora Award
Aurora Award
The Prix Aurora Awards are given out annually for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy literary works, artworks, fan activities from that year, and are awarded in both English and French...

, regional awards, like the Endeavour Award
Endeavour Award
The Endeavour Award, announced annually at OryCon in Portland, Oregon, is awarded to a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author or authors and published in the previous year....

 presented at Orycon for works from the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

, special interest or subgenre awards like the Chesley Award for art or the World Fantasy Award
World Fantasy Award
The World Fantasy Awards are annual, international awards given to authors and artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy...

 for fantasy. Magazines may organize reader polls, notably the Locus Award
Locus Award
The Locus Award is a literary award established in 1971 and presented to winners of Locus magazine's annual readers' poll. Currently, the Locus Awards are presented at an annual banquet...

.

Conventions, clubs, and organizations



Conventions (in fandom, shortened as "cons"), are held in cities around the world, catering to a local, regional, national, or international membership. General-interest conventions cover all aspects of science fiction, while others focus on a particular interest like media fandom
Media fandom
Media fandom refers to the collective fandoms focused on contemporary television shows and movies. Media fandom has a focus on relationships and is distinct from science fiction fandom, anime fandom, book fandom, music fandom, soap opera fandom, sports fandom, and video game fandom.-History:Media...

, filking, etc. Most are organized by volunteers in non-profit groups
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

, though most media-oriented events are organized by commercial promoters. The convention's activities are called the "program", which may include panel discussions, readings, autograph sessions, costume masquerades, and other events. Activities that occur throughout the convention are not part of the program; these commonly include a dealer's room, art show, and hospitality lounge (or "con suites").

Conventions may host award ceremonies; Worldcon
Worldcon
Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 . It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society...

s present the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

s each year. SF societies, referred to as "clubs" except in formal contexts, form a year-round base of activities for science fiction fans. They may be associated with an ongoing science fiction convention, or have regular club meetings, or both. Most groups meet in libraries, schools and universities, community centers, pubs or restaurants, or the homes of individual members. Long-established groups like the New England Science Fiction Association
New England Science Fiction Association
The New England Science Fiction Association, or NESFA, is a science fiction club centered in the New England area. It was founded in 1967, "by fans who wanted to do things in addition to socializing"...

 and the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society
Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society
The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, Inc., or LASFS is a science fiction society with its headquarters in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Van Nuys is located in the San Fernado Valley, north of Los Angeles...

 have clubhouses for meetings and storage of convention supplies and research materials. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, or SFWA is a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers. It was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight under the name Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. and it retains the acronym SFWA after a very brief use of the SFFWA...

 (SFWA) was founded by Damon Knight
Damon Knight
Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.-Biography:...

 in 1965 as a non-profit organization to serve the community of professional science fiction authors, 24 years after his essay "Unite or Fie!" had led to the organization of the National Fantasy Fan Federation
National Fantasy Fan Federation
The National Fantasy Fan Federation is one of the world's oldest science fiction fandom organizations. The organization was founded in April 1941 when all science fiction, horror, and fantasy literature was lumped into one category called "fantasy." The group actively encourages the development of...

. Fandom has helped incubate related groups, including media fandom
Media fandom
Media fandom refers to the collective fandoms focused on contemporary television shows and movies. Media fandom has a focus on relationships and is distinct from science fiction fandom, anime fandom, book fandom, music fandom, soap opera fandom, sports fandom, and video game fandom.-History:Media...

, the Society for Creative Anachronism
Society for Creative Anachronism
The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century...

, gaming
Gamer
Historically, the term "gamer" usually referred to someone who played role-playing games and wargames. Since they became very popular, the term has included players of video games...

, filking, and furry fandom
Furry fandom
Furry fandom is a fandom for fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphic attributes include exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, the ability to speak, walk on two legs, and wear clothes...

.

Fanzines and online fandom


The first science fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930. Fanzine printing methods have changed over the decades, from the hectograph
Hectograph
The hectograph or gelatin duplicator or jellygraph is a printing process which involves transfer of an original, prepared with special inks, to a pan of gelatin or a gelatin pad pulled tight on a metal frame.-Process:...

, the mimeograph, and the ditto machine, to modern photocopying. Distribution volumes rarely justify the cost of commercial printing. Modern fanzines are printed on computer printer
Computer printer
In computing, a printer is a peripheral which produces a text or graphics of documents stored in electronic form, usually on physical print media such as paper or transparencies. Many printers are primarily used as local peripherals, and are attached by a printer cable or, in most new printers, a...

s or at local copy shops, or they may only be sent as email
Email
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

. The best known fanzine (or "'zine
Zine
A zine is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier....

") today is Ansible
Ansible
An ansible is a hypothetical machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal communication. Ansibles occur as plot devices in science fiction literature.- Origin :The word ansible was coined by Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1966 novel, Rocannon's World...

, edited by David Langford
David Langford
David Rowland Langford is a British author, editor and critic, largely active within the science fiction field. He publishes the science fiction fanzine and newsletter Ansible.-Personal background:...

, winner of numerous Hugo awards. Other fanzines to win awards in recent years include File 770
File 770
File 770 is a long running science fiction fanzine and newszine published by Mike Glyer; it is named after the now legendary party held in Room 770 at Nolacon, the 9th World Science Fiction Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, that ran continuously for nearly two days and upstaged all the other...

, Mimosa
Mimosa
Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs, in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word μιμος , meaning "mimic."...

, and Plokta
Plokta
Plokta is a British science fiction fanzine, first published in 1996, which has won two Hugo Awards.Subtitled "The journal of superfluous technology" the magazine includes articles , photographs, illustrations and cartoons...

. Artists working for fanzines have risen to prominence in the field, including Brad W. Foster, Teddy Harvia, and Joe Mayhew; the Hugos include a category for Best Fan Artists
Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist
The Hugo Awards are presented every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

. The earliest organized fandom online was the SF Lovers community, originally a mailing list in the late 1970s with a text archive file
File archiver
A file archiver is a computer program that combines a number of files together into one archive file, or a series of archive files, for easier transportation or storage...

 that was updated regularly. In the 1980s, Usenet
Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

 groups greatly expanded the circle of fans online. In the 1990s, the development of the World-Wide Web exploded the community of online fandom by orders of magnitude, with thousands and then literally millions of web sites devoted to science fiction and related genres for all media. Most such sites are small, ephemeral, and/or very narrowly focused, though sites like SF Site offer a broad range of references and reviews about science fiction.

Fan fiction


Fan fiction, known to aficionados as "fanfic", is non-commercial
Non-commercial
Non-commercial refers to an activity or entity that does not in some sense involve commerce, at least relative to similar activities that do have a commercial objective or emphasis...

 fiction created by fans in the setting of an established book, film, video game, or television series. This modern meaning of the term should not be confused with the traditional (pre-1970s) meaning of "fan fiction" within the community of fandom
Science fiction fandom
Science fiction fandom or SF fandom is a community or "fandom" of people actively interested in science fiction and fantasy and in contact with one another based upon that interest...

, where the term meant original or parody fiction written by fans and published in fanzines, often with members of fandom as characters therein ("faan fiction"). Examples of this would include the Goon Defective Agency stories, written starting in 1956 by Irish fan John Berry and published in his and Arthur Thomson
Arthur Thomson (fanzines)
Arthur Thomson was a British artist and writer, a highly regarded member of British science fiction fandom from the 1950s onwards, both as a fanzine writer/editor and prolific artist...

's fanzine Retribution. In the last few years, sites have appeared such as Orion's Arm
Orion's Arm
Orion's Arm, is a multi-authored online science fiction world-building project, first established in 2000 by M. Alan Kazlev, Donna Malcolm Hirsekorn, Bernd Helfert and Anders Sandberg and further co-authored by many people since...

 and Galaxiki
Galaxiki
Galaxiki is a web-based, free content virtual community web 2.0 project. It consists of a virtual galaxy with over a million stars and solar systems that can be explored using a 2-dimensional map...

, which encourage collaborative development of science fiction universes. In some cases, the copyright owners of the books, films, or television series have instructed their lawyers to issue "cease and desist" letters to fans.

Science fiction studies



The study of science fiction, or science fiction studies
Science fiction studies
This article is about the field of science fiction studies. For the journal of the same title, please see Science Fiction Studies.Science fiction studies is the common name for the academic discipline that studies and researches the history, culture, and works of science fiction and, more broadly,...

, is the critical assessment, interpretation, and discussion of science fiction literature, film, new media, fandom, and fan fiction. Science fiction scholars take science fiction as an object of study in order to better understand it and its relationship to science, technology, politics, and culture-at-large. Science fiction studies has a long history dating back to the turn of the 20th century, but it was not until later that science fiction studies solidified as a discipline with the publication of the academic journals Extrapolation
Extrapolation (journal)
Extrapolation is an American academic journal covering speculative fiction. It was founded in 1959 by Thomas D. Clareson and was initially published at the College of Wooster. In 1979 it moved to the Kent State University Press. A decade later, Clareson stepped down as editor and was succeeded by...

 (1959), Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction
Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction
Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction is a critical peer-reviewed literary journal founded in 1972 that publishes articles and reviews about science fiction. It is published triannually by the Science Fiction Foundation and the editor in chief is Graham Sleight.-See...

 (1972), and Science Fiction Studies (1973), and the establishment of the oldest organizations devoted to the study of science fiction, the Science Fiction Research Association
Science Fiction Research Association
The Science Fiction Research Association , founded in 1970, is the oldest, non-profit professional organization committed to encouraging, facilitating, and rewarding the study of science fiction and fantasy literature, film, and other media...

 and the Science Fiction Foundation
Science Fiction Foundation
The Science Fiction Foundation is a Registered Charity established 1970 in England by George Hay and others. Its purpose is to "promote science fiction and bring together those who read, write, study, teach, research or archive science fiction in Britain and the rest of the world." Science fiction...

, in 1970. The field has grown considerably since the 1970s with the establishment of more journals, organizations, and conferences with ties to the science fiction scholarship community, and science fiction degree-granting programs such as those offered by the University of Liverpool and Kansas University.

The National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 has conducted surveys of "Public Attitudes and Public Understanding" of "Science Fiction and Pseudoscience". They write that "Interest in science fiction may affect the way people think about or relate to science....one study found a strong relationship between preference for science fiction novels and support for the space program...The same study also found that students who read science fiction are much more likely than other students to believe that contacting extraterrestrial civilizations is both possible and desirable (Bainbridge 1982).

Science fiction as serious literature


Mary Shelley wrote a number of science fiction novels including Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

, and is treated as a major Romantic writer. Many science fiction works have received widespread critical acclaim including Childhood's End
Childhood's End
Childhood's End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia...

and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick first published in 1968. The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter of androids, while the secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-normal intelligence who befriends some of the...

(the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

). A number of respected writers of mainstream literature have written science fiction, including Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's Brave New World
Brave New World
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's fifth novel, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 , the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of...

, George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

, Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess
John Burgess Wilson  – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess's most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works...

' A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess. The novel contains an experiment in language: the characters often use an argot called "Nadsat", derived from Russian....

and Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; she is a winner of the Arthur C...

's The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985...

. Nobel Laureate
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing
Doris May Lessing CH is a British writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook, and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos....

 wrote a series of SF novels, Canopus in Argos
Canopus in Argos
Canopus in Argos: Archives is a sequence of five science fiction novels by Nobel Prize in Literature-winning author Doris Lessing which portray a number of societies at different stages of development, over a great period of time...

, and nearly all of Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

's works contain science fiction premises or themes.

The scholar Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey
Thomas Alan Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several scholarly studies. He is widely considered one of the leading academic scholars...

 asks a perennial question of science fiction: “What is its relationship to fantasy fiction, is its readership still dominated by male adolescents, is it a taste which will appeal to the mature but non-eccentric literary mind?” In her much reprinted essay "Science Fiction and Mrs Brown," the science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 has approached an answer by first citing the essay written by the English author Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

 entitled "Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown" in which she states:
Le Guin argues that these criteria may be successfully applied to works of science fiction and so answers in the affirmative her rhetorical question posed at the beginning of her essay: “Can a science fiction writer write a novel?”

Tom Shippey in his essay does not dispute this answer but identifies and discusses the essential differences that exists between a science fiction novel and one written outside the field. To this end, he compares George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

’s Coming Up for Air
Coming Up for Air
Coming Up for Air is a novel by George Orwell, first published in June 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. It combines premonitions of the impending war with images of an idyllic Thames-side Edwardian era childhood...

with Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years — from his first published work, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna" , to his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led .He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel Jem...

 and C. M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants
The Space Merchants
The Space Merchants is a science fiction novel, written by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952. Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine as a serial entitled Gravy Planet, the novel was first published as a single volume in 1953, and has sold heavily since...

and concludes that the basic building block and distinguishing feature of a science fiction novel is the presence of the novum, a term Darko Suvin
Darko Suvin
Darko Ronald Suvin, FRSC is a Yugoslav-born academic and critic of Jewish descendance, who became a Professor at McGill University in Montreal — now emeritus...

 adapts from Ernst Bloch
Ernst Bloch
Ernst Bloch was a German Marxist philosopher.Bloch was influenced by both Hegel and Marx and, as he always confessed, by novelist Karl May. He was also interested in music and art . He established friendships with Georg Lukács, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Theodor W. Adorno...

 and defines as “a discrete piece of information recognizable as not-true, but also as not-unlike-true, not-flatly- (and in the current state of knowledge) impossible”.

In science fiction the style of writing is often relatively clear and straightforward compared to classical literature. Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card is an American author, critic, public speaker, essayist, columnist, and political activist. He writes in several genres, but is primarily known for his science fiction. His novel Ender's Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the...

, an author of both science fiction and non-SF fiction, has postulated that in science fiction the message and intellectual significance of the work is contained within the story itself and, therefore, there need not be stylistic gimmicks or literary games; but that many writers and critics confuse clarity of language with lack of artistic merit. In Card's words:
Science fiction author and physicist Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine...

 has declared that: "SF is perhaps the defining genre of the twentieth century, although its conquering armies are still camped outside the Rome of the literary citadels." This sense of exclusion was articulated by Jonathan Lethem
Jonathan Lethem
Jonathan Allen Lethem is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels...

 in an essay published in the Village Voice entitled "Close Encounters: The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction." Lethem suggests that the point in 1973 when Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature...

's Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

was nominated for the Nebula Award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

, and was passed over in favor of Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

's Rendezvous with Rama
Rendezvous with Rama
Rendezvous with Rama is a novel by Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1972. Set in the 22nd century, the story involves a cylindrical alien starship that enters Earth's solar system...

, stands as "a hidden tombstone marking the death of the hope that SF was about to merge with the mainstream." Among the responses to Lethem was one from the editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction who asked: "When is it [the SF genre] ever going to realize it can't win the game of trying to impress the mainstream?" On this point the journalist and author David Barnett
David Barnett
David Barnett is an English journalist and author. He has several published books, including Hinterland , Angelglass and The Janus House and Other Two-Faced Tales...

 has remarked:
Barnett, in an earlier essay had pointed to a new development in this "endless war":

Science fiction world-wide


Although perhaps most developed as a genre and community in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Science Fiction is a worldwide phenomenon. Organisations devoted to promotion and even translation in particular countries are commonplace, as are country- or language-specific genre awards.

Africa and African diaspora


Masimba Musodza
Masimba Musodza
Julius Masimba Musodza is a Zimbabwean screenwriter and author. He has contributed to the StoryTime e-zine, which was founded by South Africa-based Zimbabwean author, Ivor Hartmann. He is considered to be a pioneer in African "Rastafarian Literature"...

, a Zimbabwean author, published MunaHacha Maive Nei? the first science-fiction novel in the Shona language, which also holds the distinction of being the first novel in the Shona language to appear as an ebook first before it came out in print. In South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, a movie titled District 9
District 9
District 9 is a 2009 South African science fiction thriller film directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James...

came out in 2009, an apartheid allegory featuring extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 forms, produced by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

.

Asia and the Middle East



Indian science fiction, defined loosely as science fiction by writers of Indian descent, began with the English-language publication of Kylas Chundar Dutt's A Journal of Forty-Eight Hours in the Year 1945 in the Calcutta Literary Gazette (June 6, 1835). Since this story was intended as a political polemic, credit for the first science fiction story is often given to later Bengali authors such as Jagadananda Roy
Jagadananda Roy
Jagadananda Roy was an eminent scientific article writer as well as Bangla science fiction writer in the 19th century. He wrote mainly for teens.Roy was among one of the first science teachers of Rabindranath Tagore established Visva Bharati....

, Hemlal Dutta and the polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose (see Bengali science fiction). Similar traditions exist in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and English. In English, the modern era of Indian speculative fiction began with the works of authors such as Samit Basu
Samit Basu
Samit Basu is the author of five novels: The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore's Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy, a fantasy trilogy published by Penguin Books, India, Terror on the Titanic a YA novel published by Scholastic India, and Turbulence, a...

, Payal Dhar, Vandana Singh
Vandana Singh
Vandana Singh is an Indian science fiction writer. She currently works at Framingham State College in Massachusetts.-Short Fiction:* The Woman Who Thought She Was A Planet and other stories includes two previously unpublished stories: "Conservation Laws" and "Infinities" * "The Room on the Roof"...

 and Anil Menon
Anil Menon
Anil Menon is a leading Indian writer of speculative fiction. His short stories and reviews have appeared in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Chiaroscuro, Sybil's Garage, Apex Digest and other magazines. In 2009, Zubaan Books, India's leading feminist press, published...

. Works such as Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh , is a Bengali Indian author best known for his work in the English language.-Life:Ghosh was born in Calcutta on July 11, 1956, to Lieutenant Colonel Shailendra Chandra Ghosh, a retired officer of the pre-independence Indian Army, and was educated at The Doon School; St...

's The Calcutta Chromosome
The Calcutta Chromosome
The Calcutta Chromosome is a 1995 English-language novel by Indian author Amitav Ghosh. The book, for the most part set in Calcutta at some unspecified time in the future, is a medical thriller that dramatizes the adventures of apparently disconnected people who are brought together by a mysterious...

and Salman Rushdie's Grimus
Grimus
Grimus is a 1975 fantasy and science fiction novel written by Salman Rushdie. It was his literary debut.The story loosely follows Flapping Eagle, a young Indian who receives the gift of immortality after drinking a magic fluid...

and Boman Desai's The Memory of Elephants are generally classified as magic realist works but make essential use of SF tropes and techniques.

Modern science fiction in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 mainly depends on the magazine Science Fiction World
Science Fiction World
Science Fiction World , began in 1979, is a monthly science fiction magazine published in the People's Republic of China, headquartered in Chengdu, Sichuan...

. Many famous works were published in installments in it originally, including the most successful fiction Three Body, written by Liu Cixin
Liu Cixin
Liu Cixin , an eight-time winner of the Galaxy Award for science-fiction writing and an awardee of the Xingyun Awards, is the most prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People's Republic of China...

.

Chalomot Be'aspamia
Chalomot Be'aspamia
Chalomot Be'aspamia is an Israeli magazine of science fiction and fantasy short stories. It is published since 2002 by Ron Yaniv. Its first editor was Vered Tochterman...

is an Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i magazine of short science fiction and fantasy stories. The Prophecies Of Karma, published in 2011, is advertised as the first work of science fiction by an Arabic author, the Libanese writer Nael Gharzeddine.

Europe


Germany and Austria


Current well-known SF authors from Germany are five-time Kurd-Laßwitz-Award
Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis
The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis is possibly the best-known science fiction award from Germany. The award is named after the science fiction author Kurd Laßwitz....

winner Andreas Eschbach
Andreas Eschbach
Andreas Eschbach is a German writer who mostly writes science fiction. Even if some of his stories do not exactly fall into the SF genre, they usually feature elements of the fantastic.- Biography :...

, whose books The Carpet Makers
The Carpet Makers
The Carpet Makers , a novel by Andreas Eschbachpublished in 2005 by Tor Books, is an English translation of the German Die Haarteppichknüpfer ....

and Eine Billion Dollar
Eine Billion Dollar
Eine Billion Dollar is a 2001 novel by German writer Andreas Eschbach. Its plot revolves around a young pizza driver from New York City, who inherits a trillion US dollars from one of his ancestors who lived in 16th century Florence...

are big successes, and Frank Schätzing
Frank Schätzing
' , is a German writer, mostly known for his best-selling science fiction novel The Swarm .- Life :Schätzing was born in Cologne and studied communication studies; he later ran his own company, an advertising agency named INTEVI, in Cologne. Schätzing became a writer in 1990, and penned several...

, who in his book The Swarm
The Swarm (novel)
The Swarm is a science fiction novel by German author Frank Schätzing. It was first published in Germany and Austria in 2004 and soon became a bestseller.-Plot:...

mixes elements of the science thriller with SF elements to an apocalyptic scenario. The most prominent German-speaking author, according to Die Zeit, is Austrian Herbert W. Franke
Herbert W. Franke
Herbert W. Franke is an Austrian scientist and writer. He is considered one of the most important science fiction authors in the German language....

.

A well known science fiction book series
Book series
A book series is a sequence of books having certain characteristics in common that are formally identified together as a group. Book series can be organized in different ways, such as written by the same author, or marketed as a group by their publisher....

 in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 is Perry Rhodan
Perry Rhodan
Perry Rhodan is the name of a science fiction series published since 1961 in Germany, as well as the name of the main character. It is a space opera, dealing with several themes of science fiction. Having sold over one billion copies worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series...

, which started in 1961. Having sold over one billion copies (in pulp
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 format), it claims to be the most successful science fiction book series ever written worldwide.

France, other Francophone countries, and Québec


A particular trend in French literature has consisted of notorious French authors releasing science fiction works alongside their more classical production, and through the same channels, refusing to endorse the science-fiction label, probably out of a mix of snobbishness and chauvinism (science-fiction being considered by most academics as an inferior genre from America). Among these lie famous novels and short stories by René Barjavel
René Barjavel
René Barjavel was a French author, journalist and critic who may have been the first to think of the grandfather paradox in time travel. He was born in Nyons, a town in the Drôme department in southeastern France...

 and Robert Merle
Robert Merle
Robert Merle was a French novelist.-Biography:Born in Tébessa in French Algeria, he moved to France in 1918. A professor of English Literature at several universities, during World War II Merle was conscripted in the French army and assigned as an interpreter to the British Expeditionary Force...

, for example.

There is, nevertheless, a dedicated science-fiction scene in French literature: see main article
French science fiction
French science fiction is a substantial genre of French literature. It remains an active and productive genre which has evolved in conjunction with anglophone science fiction and other French and international literature....

.

In Belgian and French movies, science-fiction is represented, but not nearly as much as drama, comedy, or historical film. In Belgian and French comic books, on the other hand, science-fiction is, among other things, a well established (and often pessimistic) genre.

In the case of Canada's Québec, Élisabeth Vonarburg and other authors developed a related tradition of French-Canadian SF. The Prix Boreal was established in 1979 to honour Canadian science fiction works in French. The Aurora Awards (briefly preceded by the Casper Award) were founded in 1980 to recognize and promote the best works of Canadian science fiction in both French and English. Also, due to Canada's bilingualism and the US publishing almost exclusively in English, translation of Science Fiction prose into French thrives and runs nearly parallel upon a book's publishing in the original English. A sizeable market also exists within Québec for European-written Francophone Sci Fi literature.

Oceania


Australia: David G. Hartwell noted that while there is perhaps "nothing essentially Australian about Australian science-fiction", many Australian science-fiction (and fantasy and horror) writers are in fact international English language writers, and their work is commonly published worldwide. This is further explainable by the fact that the Australian inner market is small (with Australian population being around 21 million), and sales abroad are crucial to most Australian writers.

Latin America


Although there is still some controversy as to when science fiction began in Latin America, the earliest works date from the late 19th century. All published in 1875, O Doutor Benignus by the Brazilian Augusto Emílio Zaluar, El Maravilloso Viaje del Sr. Nic-Nac by the Argentinian Eduardo Holmberg, and Historia de un Muerto by the Cuban Francisco Calcagno are three of the earliest novels which appeared in the continent.

Up to the 1960s, science fiction was the work of isolated writers who did not identify themselves with the genre, but rather used its elements to criticize society, promote their own agendas or tap into the public's interest in pseudo-sciences. It received a boost of respectability after mainstream authors such as Horacio Quiroga
Horacio Quiroga
Horacio Silvestre Quiroga Forteza was an Uruguayan playwright, poet, and short story writer....

 and Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 used its elements in their writings. This, in turn, led to the permanent emergence of science fiction in the 1960s and mid 1970s, notably in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Cuba. Magic realism
Magic realism
Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of...

 enjoyed parallel growth in Latin America, with a strong regional emphasis on using the form to comment on social issues, similar to social science fiction and speculative fiction in the English world.

Economic turmoil and the suspicious eye of the dictatorial regimes in place reduced the genre's dynamism for the following decade. In the mid-1980s, it became increasingly popular once more. Although led by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, Latin America now hosts dedicated communities and writers with an increasing use of regional elements to set them apart from English-language science-fiction.

See also

  • Fantastic art
    Fantastic art
    Fantastic art is an art genre. The parameters of fantastic art have been fairly rigorously defined in the scholarship on the subject ever since the 19th century. There was a movement of science fiction and fantasy artists prior to and during the Great Depression, which were mainly cover art and...

  • List of science fiction authors
  • List of science fiction films
  • List of science fiction novels
  • List of science fiction television programs
  • List of science fiction themes
  • List of science fiction and fantasy artists
  • Non-Aristotelian logic—use in science fiction
  • Science fiction libraries and museums
    Science fiction libraries and museums
    With the growth of science fiction studies as an academic discipline as well as a popular media genre, a number of libraries, museums, archives, and special collections have been established to collect and organize works of scholarly and historical value in the field.-Key collections:The Merril...

  • Sense of wonder
    Sense of wonder
    A sense of wonder is an intellectual and emotional state frequently invoked in discussions of science fiction. It is an emotional reaction to the reader suddenly confronting, understanding, or seeing a concept anew in the context of new information....

  • Skiffy
    Skiffy
    Skiffy is a deliberate humorous misspelling or mispronunciation of the controversial term "sci-fi", a neologism referring to science fiction. Like the term "sci-fi" itself, "skiffy" may be used in a pejorative sense, but is more usually used to indicate that the writer or speaker is aware of the...

  • Transhumanism
    Transhumanism
    Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...

     (a school of thought profoundly inspired by SF)

External links