science fiction aka sci fi and sf n.
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Science fiction (Aka sci-fi and SF). Codes and conventions. Often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology.

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codes and conventions
Codes and conventions
  • Often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology.
  • Differs from fantasy in that its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).
  • Largely based on trying to be entertaining but rational about alternate possibilities in settings that are contrary to known reality, including:

(i) A setting in the future, in alternative time lines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record

(ii) A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens.

(iii) Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature.

(iv) Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics (eg. telepathy, telekinesis, etc), or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g. a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed).

  • 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, according to science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.
  • Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible, according to Rod Serling, an American screenwriter, best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone.
  • Related genres are Speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror.
sub genres

Hard SF:

  • Characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, or on accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible.
  • Many accurate predictions of the future come from the hard science fiction subgenre, but numerous inaccurate predictions have emerged as well.

Soft and social SF:

  • Based on social sciences such as psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology.
  • Stories focus primarily on character and emotion.
  • Two good examples are Wall-E and ET because

both films’ stories centre around the titular

characters and how they feel about what happens

to them.



  • The time frame is usually near-future and the settings are often dystopian.
  • Common themes include advances in IT (especially the Internet), artificial intelligence and prosthetics and post-democratic societal control

where corporations have more influence than


  • Nihilism (the idea that values do not exist but rather

are falsely invented), post-modernism, and film noir

techniques are common elements.

  • The protagonists may be disaffected or reluctant


  • A good example is the Matrix because it’s set in a dystopian future ruled by machines.

Time travel:

  • Stories have antecedents (prior events) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Often complicated by logical problems such as the grandfather paradox (a man travels back in time and kills his biological grandfather before the latter meets the traveller's grandmother. As a result, one of the traveller's parents (and by extension, the traveller himself) is never conceived. This means that he can’t have travelled back in time after all, so the grandfather is still alive, and the traveller is conceived, allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather).
  • An example is The Time Machine (1960 version or 2002 version).

Alternate history:

  • Stories are based on the premise that historical events might have turned out differently.
  • They may use time travel to change the past, or may simply set a story in a universe with a different history from our own.
  • Good examples are the Back to the Future films.

Military SF:

  • Set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces; 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.

  • Good examples are the BattlestarGalactica movies.


  • Stories deal with the emergence of humans who have abilities

beyond the norm.

  • This can stem either from natural causes (accidental modification

of the body) or be the result of intentional augmentation

(purposeful modification of the body).

  • Stories usually focus on the alienation that these beings feel as

well as society's reaction to them.

  • They’ve have played a role in the real life discussion of human enhancement.
  • A good example is X-men.


  • Concerned with the end of civilization through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster or with a world or civilization after such a disaster.
  • Apocalyptic generally concerns the disaster itself and the direct aftermath, while post-apocalyptic can deal with anything from the near aftermath to hundreds or thousands of years in the future.
  • Good examples of this are the Terminator films.

Space opera:

  • Emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities.
  • The most significant trait is that settings, characters, battles,

powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.

  • The stories typically follow the Homeric (heroic/grand/imposing)

tradition, in which a small band of adventurers are cast against

larger-than-life backdrops of powerful warring factions.

  • Good examples are the Star Wars films.

Space Western:

  • Transposes themes of the American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers.
  • Stories typically involve "frontier" colony worlds (colonies that have only recently been terraformed (the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth to make it habitable by humans) and/or settled) serving as stand-ins for the backdrop of lawlessness and economic expansion that were predominant in the American west.
  • A good example is Serenity.

Feminist SF:

  • Tends to deal with women's roles in society.
  • 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.

  • Stories have illustrated these themes using utopias to explore a

society in which gender differences or gender power imbalances

do not exist, or dystopias to explore worlds in which gender

inequalities are intensified, thus asserting a need for feminist

work to continue.

  • Good examples are the Alien films as the protagonist is a strong

woman, not the stereotypical damsel in distress.

New wave:

  • Stories have a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility.
  • Often openly mocks the traditions of pulp science fiction (inexpensive stories for the mass market), which writers and creators of new wave regarde as stodgy, irrelevant and unambitious.


  • Set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
  • Other examples contain alternate history-style presentations of

“the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles, analog

computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles

Babbage's Analytical Engine) which are frequently presented in

an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.

  • Often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase

and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement

(though both have considerable influence on each other).

  • Apart from time period and level of technological development,

the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that

steampunksettings usually tend to be less obviously dystopian than cyberpunk, or lack dystopian elements entirely.

  • One of the earlier examples of cinematic steampunk is the 1958 film The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. More recent films are The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Wild Wild West (neither were welcomed on release by critics or audiences).
some common themes
Some Common Themes
  • The future
  • Parallel universes
  • Alternate history
  • Scientific predictions of the future
  • Space warfare and Alien invasion (eg Independence Day)
  • Cloning
  • Telepathy and Telekinesis
  • Alien languages (e.g. Klingon from Star Trek)
  • Dystopias and utopia
  • Galactic empires
  • Hyperspace
  • Warp drives and Wormholes
  • Space stations
  • Time travel
some popular characters
Some Popular characters

The Alien

  • Life forms (often especially intelligent life forms), that are of

extraterrestrial origin.

  • Can be good (like ET) or evil and want to invade Earth.

The Cyborg

  • An organism that has both artificial and natural systems
  • Often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human

counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons).

  • Can be good or evil. Terminator 2 has both

The Mutant

  • An individual, organism, or new genetic character arising or resulting from an instance of a sequence change within the DNA of a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not found in the typical form of an organism.
  • Can be good or bad. X-men has both

The Esper

  • An individual capable of telepathy and other similar paranormal abilities
  • Can be good or evil
  • Has featured in Blade Runner and Star Trek


  • A group mind/ego (a single consciousness occupying many bodies)
  • Can be good or evil
  • Has also featured in Star Trek and the Jedis in Star Wars could be considered similar.