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Science fiction

Parent categories: speculative fiction - fiction - science

By medium: science fiction books - science fiction films

Related: black science fiction - cyber - fiction - futurism - googie space age archicture - retro-futurist architecture - science - space age - technology - utopia

Metropolis (1927) - Fritz Lang [Amazon.com]

Things to Come (1936) - William Cameron Menzies


Form of fiction that developed in the 20th century and deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals. The term is more generally used to refer to any literary fantasy that includes a scientific factor as an essential orienting component. -- Brittanica.com [2004]

Science fiction is a genre of fiction in which advances in science, or contact with more scientifically advanced civilizations, create situations different from those of both the present day and the known past. Although science fiction is often written primarily to entertain, many authors have a deeper purpose, using the genre to provide insight into science, society, or the human condition. The borders of this genre are not well defined, and the dividing lines between its sub-genres are often fluid. (In Strong Opinions, Vladimir Nabokov half-seriously argues that, if we were truly rigorous with our definitions, Shakespeare's play The Tempest would have to be termed science fiction.) --http://wikipedia.com/wiki/Science_fiction [Jan 2006]

Science fiction as social commentary

This film genre has long served as a vehicle for thinly-disguised and often thoughtful social commentary. Presentation of issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. The altered context can allow for deeper examination and reflection of the ideas presented, with the perspective of a viewer watching remote events.

The type of commentary presented in a science fiction film often an illustrated the particular concerns of the period in which they were produced. Early sci-fi films expressed fears about automation replacing workers and the dehumanization of society through science and technology. Later films explored the fears of environmental catastrophe or technology-created disasters, and how they would impact society and individuals.

The monster movies of the 1950s served as stand-ins for fears of nuclear war, communism and views on the cold war. In the 1970s, science fiction films also became an effective way of satirizing contemporary social mores with Silent Running and Dark Star presenting hippies in space as a reposte to the militaristic types that had dominated earlier films, A Clockwork Orange presenting a horrific vision of youth culture, Logan's Run depicting a futuristic swingers society and The Stepford Wives anticipating a reaction to the women's liberation movement.

Enemy Mine demonstrated that the foes we have come to hate are often just like us, even if they appear alien. Movies like 2001, Jurassic Park, Blade Runner, and Tron examined the dangers of advanced technology, while RoboCop, 1984, and the Star Wars films illustrate the dangers of extreme political control. Both Planet of the Apes and Stepford Wives commented on the politics and culture of contemporary society. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction_film#Science_fiction_as_social_commentary [Dec 2005]

Postmodernism and science-fiction

Linking postmodernism and Science Fiction is hardly a new thing; many of SF's most sophisticated commentators have been doing it for the past 15 years. Roger Luckhurst, in ``Policing the Borders: Postmodernism and Science Fiction,'' shows that theorists of postmodern genres have often taken up SF as a cause célèbre to prove that the traditional boundaries of genre have collapsed in the fluid new culture of Postmodernity. N. Katherine Hayles, in the recent book on the chaos paradigm reviewed in this issue, turns to SF texts as touchstones for understanding the transformation of Western culture into a culture of chaos. Larry McCaffery, in his collection of interviews with SF writers, also reviewed in this issue, argues that SF has become the pre-eminent literary genre of the postmodern era, since it alone has the generic protocols and thesaurus of themes to cope with the drastic transformations that technology has wrought on life in the post-industrial West. Ambitious theorists like Fredric Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, and Donna Haraway turn to SF topoi not only as a major symptom of the postmodern condition, but as a body of privileged allegories, the dream book of the age. -- http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/55/intro55.htm

[...] new technology always creates a crisis in culture. SF helped to invent metaphors to express the hopes and fears of the Machine Age, the Nuclear Age, the Space Age, and now the Information Age. In the electronic era, we are living with the breakdown of the distinction between man and machine. Much of recent SF--cyberpunk in particular--attempts to construct a new human being that can exist within cyberspace. The SF writers Bukatman considers--primarily William S. Burroughs, Ballard, Dick, Tiptree, Gibson, and Sterling--all write ``at the boundaries of human meaning and value'' -- Andrew Gordon in review of "Terminal Identity" http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/review_essays/gord61.htm

Sex in Science Fiction

Imagined Sexual Futures

  • 1972 Scortia, Thomas Strange Bedfelllows: Sex and Science Fiction
  • 1973 Joseph Elder, ed. Eros in Orbit (Trident)
  • 1974 Sargent, Pamel, ed. Women of Wonder (Vintage)
  • 1976 Susan Janice Anderson and Vonda McIntyre, eds. Aurora: Beyond Equality (Fawcett)
  • 1976 Sargent, Pamlea, ed. More Women of Wonder (Vintage)
  • 1977 ---. New Women of Wonder (Vintage)
  • 1978 Virginia Kidd, ed. Millineal Women (Dell)
  • 1990 Datlow, Ellen, ed. Alien Sex


    Modern science fiction frequently involves themes of sex, gender and sexuality. This was not always so. During the 1930s and 40s "golden age" of science fiction sex was rarely if ever even mentioned, although there was certainly no lack of innuendo and suggestion. The idea, however, that strong female characters played little or no role in the pulps of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, is wrong. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_in_science_fiction [Feb 2005]

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