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What is Science Fiction?
History of sf?
Hard SF or Soft SF?
A Presentation of Authors
What is Science Fiction?
Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction
that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts
such as advanced science and technology,
space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.
It has been called the "literature of ideas", and often explores the
potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations.
Science fiction is related to fantasy, horror, and superhero fiction,
and contains many subgenres.
"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"
- Robert A. Heinlein
When did it start?
Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for Lucian's A True Story.
Science fiction had its beginnings in ancient times, when the line between myth and fact was blurred. Written in the 2nd century AD (ca 100 e.Kr) by Lucian,
A True Story contains many themes and tropes characteristic of modern science fiction, including travel to other worlds, extraterrestrial lifeforms, interplanetary warfare, and artificial life. Some consider it the first science-fiction novel.
It was written as a satire.
The Romantic era (1800-tal)
During the Romantic era literature gave people an opportunity to escape their often harsh realities - long working days, unsafe working conditions, poverty, living in slums, inequality.
Reading stories made you able to escape reality
to foreign and exotic places.
Escapism coupled with the developing technology and new innovations of the industrial era
created the genre of Science Fiction!
One of the first Science Fiction novels
is Mary Shelleys Frankenstein.
Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley 1797 - 1851
From earth to the moon
Journey to the centre of the earth
20 000 Leagues under the sea
Among other things.
Thus stimulating the imagination of
countless people and inspiring authors throughout the ages.
Verne often wrote about machines or technologies that didn't exist at the time, earning him a reputation of being a "prophet of scientific progress".
The genre of scientific fiction grew immensely during the 1900's midcentury. The post-war age filled with hope for the future in combination with a strong technological advancement fueled both the dreams of outer space as well as fear for the loss of nature and humanity to machines.
Verne - Shelley
Hard and/or soft Science Fiction
These two authors exemplify the rise of a debated division in this genre.
Is a division like this just snobbery
or can it help us choose the right book for you?
Hard Science Fiction
focuses on technology/natural sciences
Soft Science Fiction
focuses on social sciences.
Alien cultures, social
changes after an apocalypse,
justice systems, economy,
Space travel, engineering
computers, alien races and their technology.
First contact with aliens
Robots and A.I.
The themes in modern SF are endless
and can read as a list of human fears.
Controlling dystopian societies
End of humanity
Destruction of the planet/s
Cli-Fi - Climate Fiction
covering the climate issue.
SF can also give us hope!
The genre is set in a future time, meaning we have the time to change for the better.
To seek out new and better tomorrows.
It reminds us that as a species we can dream, explore, cast our imaginations beyond the boundaries of our reality.
Ursula Le Guin
Apart from delving into feminist themes, gender inequality and sexuality. These authors are just fantastic story tellers and have created classics in this field.
Feminism in SF
Ethnicity and diversity in SF
A hologram, a cat, a robot, and two humans.
The Crew of the Red Dwarf
The Crew of the Wayfarer
The Crew of Enterprise
A historic kiss
Dystopian fiction are cautionary tales about imminent threats as they are percieved by the author. The author may choose to place this threat in the future, or the past or even in the present.
Dystopian literature almost always contains a critical view on the society the author is familiar with. To understand dystopian fiction, one must understand the context of the the authors time and place.
Dystopian fiction, even though it is classified as Science Fiction, can lack technology or other signifiers of the genre.
George Orwell was inspired by his experiences covering the Spanish war and his hatred of fascism and totaliarianism. He wanted to warn of us a future were capitalism and political authority ran rampant. He saw a future were people were monitored and controlled. Where history was no longer something people could agree on and hate
distracted us from the facts
Published in 1949
Does that sound familiar?
Let's take a look at the authors of
the short stories you will read...
Ray Bradbury 1920-2012
Was an American writer and screenplay writer with Swedish ancestry, his mother was a Swedish immigrant. Mostly known for his highly imaginative short stories and science fiction novels, he also wrote in other genres such as fantasy, horror and mystery fiction. His most famous work is the science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451.
He liked to read and write as a child and has said that Jules Verne and H.G. Wells inspired him to write science fiction. His writing style blend poetic language with nostalgia for childhood, social criticism and awareness of the hazards of runaway technology.
Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007
Was an American writer, most famous for his darkly satirical, bestselling Science Fiction novel Slaughterhouse-five. He grew up in Indianapolis, and even though he described himself as a pascifist, he enlisted in the US. Army in 1943 and was sent to Europe to fight in WWII. He was caught by the Germans and sent to Dresden as a POW but survived the bombing of the city in 1945. After returning to America he married his high school sweetheart and got a job at an electrical factory. His writing was inspired both by his experiences in the war as well as being a factory worker and his writing style is marked by a dark humor that highlight the horrors and ironies of 20th-century civilization.