Science Fiction: Answering the Big ‘What If’ Question

Fantasy is the genre that explores our imaginations and takes us on glorious adventures. In a similar vein, horror flirts with the darker nature of humanity and gives rise to those things that go bump in the night. Science fiction, though, is meant to answer the question “What if?” What if science gave us the ability to create the spark of life (Frankenstein)? What if beings from the canals of Mars came to Earth intent on wiping out humanity (The War of the Worlds)? What if our government decided that books possessed dangerous ideas and should all be destroyed (Fahrenheit 451)? What if we developed artificial intelligence? Or faster than light travel? Or nanotechnology? The genre of science fictions is driven by the desire to push these questions and how they may change human culture.

Just like in the other forms of speculative fiction, science fiction branches off into many directions. Wikipedia lists 48 pages in the “Science Fiction genres” category. Personally, I have always liked to think about science fiction as a “super-genre” in that nearly every genre can be fit under the umbrella of science fiction. There are sci-fi mysteries, sci-fi westerns, sci-fi comedies, literary sci-fi, and even sci-fi fantasies and sci-fi horror. These are in addition to the “pure” science fiction genres such as hard science fiction or space opera. There are even books that are science fiction books in disguise! Expect to explore some of the intricacies of these forms of science fiction with myself and the other writers here. There is pretty much a flavor of science fiction for anyone out there.

While fantasy stories have had a rough trail to the big and small screens of film and television, science fiction has been a cinematic mainstay since the very early days of film and radio. From the films of the 1920s, like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, to the action-packed spectacles of today, such as Elysium starring Matt Damon, sci-fi films have drawn in and entranced audiences (as well as breed legions of decriers – sci-fi fuels a great deal of passion in its fans). Franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek are recognizable to even people that do not claim to be fans demonstrating science fiction’s ability to reach beyond the fans and into the mainstream.

It is nigh on impossible to encapsulate everything that science is into a single post here, so I hope you continue to read and participate in discussion around everything that science fiction and its close brethren, fantasy and horror, adds to our culture and entertainment. Please share your favorite science fiction book or film in the comments.

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