Science Fiction Genre and Concerns
Familiar Science Fiction • Star Wars • Star Trek • 2001: A Space Odyssey • Independence Day • I, Robot • Men in Black • Terminator • The Matrix • Jurassic Park
What do these stories all have in common? • Setting: the future • Advanced technology: genetic engineering, intelligent robots, experimental medicine • Concerned with outer space: aliens, space travel, other planets and solar systems • Paranormal Phenomena and the Occult: ESP, telekinesis, psychics
Sci Fi vs. Fantasy Science fiction is based in fact: some of the technology is invented, some of the places are made up, but all of it is conceivable. Fantasy is not based in reality: it is purely imaginative. Consider: Will Smith vs. Harry Potter Versus
Science Fiction: follows the natural laws of our known world, but takes them to extremes by asking what if? Science Fiction vs Fantasy Fantasy: Contains elements that violate the natural, physical laws of our known world – like magic.
Science Fiction vs Fantasy • Setting: both science fiction and fantasy make use of real and make believe settings on other planets or in other worlds. • Fantasy – presents ideas that are NOT possible in the world as we know it. It does, however, follow rules within the limits of the world the author has created.
Science Fiction – It’s all about the “What if” • Authors chose to write in the science fiction genre because it allows them to reflect upon different scenarios in the future, based on what’s happening today. • Science fiction allows us to investigate society’s fears, dilemmas and concerns if we take a certain course of action, or if we keep doing things the way that we are.
Why SciFi? • Makes us consider the emotional, psychological, and physical effects of futuristic ideas, conflict and change. • Encourages us to keep an open mind to consider unlimited possibilities. • Provokes questions regarding other forms of life, thereby bringing our own into perspective. • Stimulates curiosity and the capacity for invention. • Presents the reader with moral and ethical dilemmas that correspond to the real world.
SF History: • Origins • The Golden Age • The Big Three
Origins: • Mary Shelley – 1797-1851. Wrote Frankenstein at age 21 (1818) and The Last Man in 1826. This is considered the first real Science Fiction. • Jules Verne - 1828-1905. Wrote what were labeled “Scientic Romances” – not because they were lovey-dovey but because they presented a hero on a quest to uphold a high ideal. Best known for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Voyage to the Center of the Earth. • H.G. Wells – 1866-1956. Wrote science fiction that, following Mary Shelley’s lead, looked at the impact of science on society. The Time Machine and When the Sleeper Wakes looked at the future from a broad perspective
Science Fiction – The Golden Age • From the 1930s to the 1950s, science fiction experienced its first renaissance. John W. Campbell – editor of Astounding Science Fiction Stories and his writers (including Asimov and Heinlein) largely dominated the field. Heinlein was published in the Saturday Evening Post, being the first science fiction writer to make it to the mainstream. Several science fiction novels were published, and the level of writing improved over the pulp magazines of a few years before. • Issac Asimov on The Golden Age: • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pySVYz4GfzE
Science Fiction Writers:The Big Three! • More than any other writers, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke influenced the genre. Despite being radically different in many ways, their approaches to SF set the tone for generations to come. Their writings included the use of hard science, more character development than the pulp writers of the time used, and the idea of future histories.