Science Fiction as a Genre in Adolescent Literature, Ken Keesee
Science fiction as a form of writing is similar to fantasy because it is
set in worlds that are very different from the real world. Science fiction differs
from fantasy, however, because it presents a future that could develop from the
inventions and scientific advances we make in the present time. Usually, the
setting for science fiction is in the future, and science fiction stories deal with the
impact of technology and science on humans, humanoids, or aliens. For this
reason, it is sometimes called speculative fiction.
Science fiction type stories can be traced back to ancient times. For instance, the
classical writer Lucien was writing stories in the second century a. d. that
involved traveling to the moon and finding people there. He used such fantastic
settings to point out problems in Roman society. Later examples of such satire
include Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Jonathan Swift's
Gulliver's Travels, both of which are considered to be early types of science
The first distinct work of science fiction was written by a woman. Mary
Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818).
Frankenstein is regarded by many as the first real science fiction work.
The first popular science fiction writer was Jules Verne who wrote such well-
known novels as Journey to the Center of the Earth (1870), and *Around the
World in Eighty Days* (1872). All of these books reached wide audiences.
Another writer, H. G. Wells, continued to popularize the genre with his works,
The Time Machine (1895) and The Invisible Man (1897). It is Wells who brings
science fiction into the 20th century with his novel, The War of the Worlds
(1898).In the 20th century George Orwell wrote 1984 and Animal Farm.
Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World. The most-popular and well-recognized
20th century authors are Isaac Asimov, known for his Foundation trilogy and
his robot series; Arthur C. Clarke, known for his Rendezvous with Rama series
and 2001, a Space Odyssey; Ray Bradbury, known for his Martian Chronicles;
and Robert Heinlein, known for novels such as Stranger in a Strange Land and
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
As a type of literature (genre), science fiction has always had to fight for respect.
Most statistics say that only one in every two people like science fiction; most
people either love it or hate it. In general, the largest audience of science fiction
has been young male readers. Some credit for this limited audience is owed to
science fiction's history in Hollywood. Science fiction started becoming tinsel
town's "last frontier" as early as the 1930s. Movie studios tended (and still do) to
pick up on things that sell and then replicating them ad infinitum. Because
Westerns were wildly popular in the early days of cinema, the early science
fiction movies were about a “space cowboy” named Buck Rogers, who flies a
spaceship rather than riding a horse, and fights against an evil, ray-gun-toting
Martian. These Buck Rogers movies were full of action, but did not have very
deep themes and ideas. However, Buck Rogers movies did pave the way for
amazing technological advances. By the outbreak of World War II, the world
quickly entered the atomic and information ages.
Critics disagree on what makes for good science fiction. Generally, the elements
of plot, style, theme, and so forth must be fully developed. It is important to
remember that science fiction is usually written as a response to rapid scientific
and technological development. Therefore, good science fiction encourages the
reader to look in new ways at the consequences of ideas such as industrialization,
evolutionary theory, technology, the Big Bang, and medicine. It also makes the
reader think about the possibility of intelligent life on other planets.
There is more to good science fiction than mere laser guns. Reading the good
stuff, one should not get tripped up by photon torpedoes and space monsters. On
the other hand, one should not get bogged down by beakers, wires and computer
jargon; that is, the work should not be so loaded with techno-facts that the plot
and theme becomes too difficult to follow.
In summary, good science fiction will (1) make us consider the emotional,
psychological and physical effects of futuristic ideas, conflict and change; (2)
encourage us to keep an open mind to consider unlimited possibilities for the
future; (3) provoke questions regarding other forms of life, thereby bringing our
own into perspective; (4) stimulate curiosity and the capacity for invention, and
(5) present the reader with moral and ethical dilemmas that to some degree
correspond to the real world.
Created for Albert.io. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
The earliest science fiction stories most likely were written to: