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									     Science Fiction
            Introduction Notes


   Essential question (and final exam):

What do the worlds of
Science Fiction teach us
 about our own world?

What is Science Fiction?

• The term ‘Science Fiction’ is itself an

 ‘Science’ being            ‘Fiction’ being
     true and               fabricated and
    provable                      false


What is Science Fiction?
• Sci-Fi is not necessarily about the future, so
  much as it is about the possibility of a future
  or other world alternative.
• Sci-Fi is also not about predicting the future,
  but rather exploring possibilities by
  examining present-day events.
• In this case, good Sci-Fi must have scientific
  principles that must be plausible, and the
  events described must be valid within the
  context of currently accepted scientific facts.
What is Science Fiction?
• So, a working definition for Sci-Fi could be
  the exploration of alternate realities taken
  from present-day events.
• ‘Speculative Fiction,’ a term many prefer,
  could be substituted.


 Where and when did
    Sci-Fi begin?
• Many literary critics believe that the
  Industrial Revolution (1775) may have played
  a large role in the early creation of this
• As society became more technologically
  advanced, the essential questions of Sci-Fi
  began to rise to the surface.

               Where and when did
                  Sci-Fi begin?
        •    Many literary critics believe
             Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein
             (1818) to be one of the
             most early and popular
             Sci-Fi texts.

        •    The often overlooked
             subtitle of the book is The
             Modern Prometheus.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus
 is the Titan chiefly honored for
  stealing fire from the gods and
 giving it to mortals for their use
          (from Wikipedia).

               Where and when did
                  Sci-Fi begin?
            • Later, Jules Verne began to publish scientific
                based fiction: Journey to the Center of the
                Earth (1864).
            • H.G. Wells published The Time Machine in
            • By 1912, America became the leader of
                Science Fiction literature. By 1926, America
                dominated the field, as it still does today.

 How did Sci-Fi find its
  niche in America?
• Like the plot of many Sci-Fi texts, America
  itself was invaded by aliens with a
  dominating culture and superior technology,
  especially in the area of weaponry.


Why is Sci-Fi often not considered
‘serious literature’ and accepted
           by academia?
• The difficulty of finding quality Sci-Fi with so
  much being produced annually — there are
  many texts with little literary value —!had
  given this genre an unfair reputation.
• However, there are diamonds in the broken
  glass, and in the 1970s universities began
  cashing in on such a popular genre.

Where does Sci-Fi fit in
to the modern world?

• Today, Sci-Fi is widely discussed and widely
    diversified, branching into many sub genres.


        Sci-Fi Sub Genres
•   Hard Sci-Fi                     •   Medical Sci-Fi
•   Space Opera                     •   Psychological Sci-Fi
•   Science Fantasy                 •   Time Travel
•   Sociological Sci-Fi             •   Alternative Histories
•   Dystopian/Utopian Sci-Fi        •   Future Histories
•   Military Sci-Fi                 •   Space Travel
•   Cyberpunk                       •   Dimensional Travel
•   Steampunk

•   What needs to be remembered is that Sci-Fi is not limited to
    these sub genres and these alone. Sci-Fi can also take on other
    genres of fiction. For example, Frankenstein is also horror;
    therefore Sci-Fi/Horror is often found.
  What is the difference
between Sci-Fi and Fantasy?
 • As a rule of thumb, Sci-Fi contains some
   believable explanation of the devices found
 • With Fantasy, magic is often employed
   almost exclusively, swords and daggers may
   be present, and society is somewhat
   medieval with little technology.


   What is the difference
between Sci-Fi and Fantasy?
 • Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings has elements of
   both Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
   • Sci-Fi: lost technologies, i.e., the
      manufacturing of the rings.
   • Fantasy: swords, monsters, magic, lack of
      technology, etc.
   • In this case, LOTR should be considered as

    What is the difference
between Sci-Fi and Fantasy?
 • Star Wars also has elements of both Sci-Fi
   and Fantasy (much more so than Star Trek).
     • Sci-Fi: space travel, aliens, very advanced
     • Fantasy: (again) swords, monsters, magic,
          ‘Long time ago....’
     • In this case, Star Wars is more Sci-Fi than


   Our list from earlier, a
    point of reference
 • Star Wars            • Area 51                   • Twilight Zone
 • Equilibrium          • Fahrenheit 451            • Ultraviolet
 • Alien                • Jurassic Park             • Dark Angel
 • Predator             • Firefly                    • Donnie Darko
 • Godzilla             • Stargate                  • Ghost Hunters
 • War of the Worlds    • Star Trek                 • Ghostbusters
 • Transformers         • Serenity                  • Chucky
 • Spider-Man           • Minority Report           • Tales of the Crypt
 • The Island           • Waterworld                • Planet Terror
 • Lord of the Rings    • Paycheck                  • Blade
 • I, Robot             • Eternal Sunshine of the   • Signs
                          Spotless Mind
 • I Am Legend          • The Matrix                • Batman
 • X-Men                • The Terminator            • Timeline
What makes classic Sci-Fi possible
  in such a world of change?
•   The Sci-Fi of any time reflects that time’s own technology
    and scientific thought. As the level and sophistication of
    thought has grown, so has the fiction.

•   Some stories have or will become dated, but timeless
    themes and imaginative situations involving human
    reaction to difficult issues will keep readers interested in
    classic works.

•   Today, more than ever, technology is advancing rapidly
    and the ways that humans adapt or fail to adapt will
    determine the future. This is a scientific fact.


What themes will we be
• Unexplained Phenomena
• Self-Knowledge
• The Individual vs. Society
• People in Time or Space
• Humans and Technology
• Humans and the Environment
What do the worlds of Sci-Fi
  tell us about our own?

• Ethics/Morals   • Our
• Society/
  Government      • Life
• Environment     • Extra Terrestrial
• Religion


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