Science fiction

Science fiction

Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and capitalization) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theatre, and other media. In organizational or marketing contexts, science fiction can be synonymous with the broader definition of speculative fiction, encompassing creative works incorporating imaginative elements not found in contemporary reality; this includes fantasy, horror, and related genres.cite web
title=What is Speculative Fiction?
author=N. E. Lilly

Science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though "some" elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". [cite web
author = Marg Gilks, Paula Fleming and Moira Allen
title = Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas
work =
year =2003
url =
accessdate =
] Science fiction is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilities [cite book
last = Del Rey
first = Lester
title = The World of Science Fiction: 1926-1976
publisher = Ballantine Books
year =1979
pages = 5
id = ISBN 0-345-25452-x
] in settings that are contrary to known reality.

These may include:
*A setting in the future, in alternative time lines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archeological record
*A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens [Sterling, Bruce. "Science fiction" in "Encyclopædia Britannica" 2008 [] ]
*Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature [cite book
last = Card
first = Scott
title = How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
publisher = Writer's Digest Books
year =1990
pages = 17
id = ISBN 0-89879-416-1
*Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems [cite book
last = Hartwell
first = David G.
title = Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction
publisher = Tor Books
year =1996
pages = 109-131
id = ISBN 0-312-86235-0


Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes. Author and editor Damon Knight summed up the difficulty by stating that "science fiction is what we point to when we say it". [cite book
last = Knight
first =Damon Francis
title = In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction
publisher = Advent Publishing, Inc.
year =1967
pages = pg xiii
id = ISBN 0911682317
] , a definition echoed by author Mark C. Glassy, who argues that the definition of science fiction is like the definition of pornography; you don't know what it is, but you know it when you see it. [cite book |title=The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema |last=Glassy |first=Mark C. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year= |publisher= |location= |isbn=0-7864-0998-3 |pages= ] Vladimir Nabokov argued that if we were rigorous with our definitions, Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" would have to be termed science fiction. [cite book
last = Nabokov
first =Vladimir Vladimirovich
title = Strong opinions
publisher = McGraw-Hill
year =1973
pages =pg. 3 "et seq"
id = ISBN 0070457379

According to science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, "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."cite conference
title=Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues
booktitle=The Science Fiction Novel: Imagination and Social Criticism
publisher=Advent Publishers
first=Robert A.
coauthors=Cyril Kornbluth, Alfred Bester, and Robert Bloch
location=University of Chicago
] Rod Serling's definition is "fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible."cite video
people=Rod Serling
title=The Twilight Zone, "The Fugitive"
] Lester Del Rey wrote, "Even the devoted aficionado– or fan- has a hard time trying to explain what science fiction is", and that the reason for there not being a "full satisfactory definition" is that "there are no easily delineated limits to science fiction." [ cite book
title=The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976
last=Del Rey
publisher=Garland Publishing

Forrest J. Ackerman publicly used the term "sci-fi" at UCLA in 1954,cite book
title=The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
publisher=Houghton Mifflin Company
] though Robert A. Heinlein had used it in private correspondence six years earlier. [cite web|url=| |accessdate=2007-02-02] As science fiction entered popular culture, writers and fans active in the field came to associate the term with low-budget, low-tech "B-movies" and with low-quality pulp science fiction.cite book
title=Neo-Fan's Guidebook
] cite book|url=|last=Scalzi|first=John|title=The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies|year=2005] cite web | last = Ellison | first = Harlan | year = 1998 | url = | title = "Harlan Ellison's responses to online fan questions at ParCon" | accessdate = 2006-04-25 | accessyear = 2006 ] By the 1970s, critics within the field such as Terry Carr and Damon Knight were using "sci-fi" to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction,cite encyclopedia |title="Sci fi" (article by Peter Nicholls) |encyclopedia=Encyclopedia of Science Fiction |author=John Clute and Peter Nicholls, ed. |publisher=Orbit/Time Warner Book Group UK |year=1993] and around 1978, Susan Wood and others introduced the pronunciation "skiffy." Peter Nicholls writes that "SF" (or "sf") is "the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers."cite encyclopedia |title="SF" (article by Peter Nicholls) |encyclopedia=Encyclopedia of Science Fiction |author=John Clute and Peter Nicholls, ed. |publisher=Orbit/Time Warner Book Group UK |year=1993] David Langford's monthly fanzine "Ansible" includes a regular section "As Others See Us" which offers numerous examples of "sci-fi" being used in a pejorative sense by people outside the genre.cite web|url=|title=Ansible|publisher=David Langford]


As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has antecedents back to mythology, though precursors to science fiction as literature can be seen in Lucian's "True History" in the 2nd century, [Grewell, Greg: “Colonizing the Universe: Science Fictions Then, Now, and in the (Imagined) Future”, "Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature", Vol. 55, No. 2 (2001), pp. 25-47 (30f.)] [Fredericks, S.C.: [ “Lucian's True History as SF”] , "Science Fiction Studies", Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1976), pp. 49-60] [Swanson, Roy Arthur: [ “The True, the False, and the Truly False: Lucian’s Philosophical Science Fiction”] , "Science Fiction Studies", Vol. 3, No. 3 (Nov. 1976), pp. 227-239] [Georgiadou, Aristoula & Larmour, David H.J.: [ “Lucian's Science Fiction Novel True Histories. Interpretation and Commentary“] , "Mnemosyne Supplement" 179, Leiden 1998, ISBN 9004106677, Introduction] [Gunn, James E.: “The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction”, Publisher: Viking 1988, ISBN 9780670810413, p.249 calls it "Proto-Science Fiction"] some of the "Arabian Nights" tales, [citation|title=The Arabian Nights: A Companion|first=Robert|last=Irwin|publisher=Tauris Parke Paperbacks|year=2003|isbn=1860649831|pages=209-13] "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" in the 10th century,citation|title=The Halstead Treasury of Ancient Science Fiction|first=Matthew|last=Richardson|publisher=Halstead Press|publication-place=Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales|year=2001|isbn=1875684646 (cf. citation|title=Once Upon a Time|journal=Emerald City|issue=85|date=September 2002|url=|accessdate=2008-09-17)] Ibn al-Nafis' "Theologus Autodidactus" in the 13th century,Dr. Abu Shadi Al-Roubi (1982), "Ibn al-Nafis as a philosopher", "Symposium on Ibn al-Nafis", Second International Conference on Islamic Medicine: Islamic Medical Organization, Kuwait (cf. [ Ibnul-Nafees As a Philosopher] , "Encyclopedia of Islamic World" [] )] and Cyrano de Bergerac' "Voyage de la Terre à la Lune" and "Des états de la Lune et du Soleil" in the 17th century. Following the Age of Reason and the development of modern science itself, Voltaire's "Micromégas" was one of the first true science fiction works, together with Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels".cite encyclopedia
title=Science Fiction
encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica
] Following the 18th century development of the novel as a literary form, in the early 19th century, Mary Shelley's books "Frankenstein" and "The Last Man" helped define the form of the science fiction novel;cite encyclopedia
title=Mary W. Shelley
encyclopedia=Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
author=John Clute and Peter Nicholls
publisher=Orbit/Time Warner Book Group UK
] later Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story about a flight to the moon.cite book
first=Edgar Allan
title=The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volume 1, "The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaal"
] More examples appeared throughout the 19th century. Then with the dawn of new technologies such as electricity, the telegraph, and new forms of powered transportation, writers like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells created a body of work that became popular across broad cross-sections of society.cite encyclopedia
encyclopedia=Encarta® Online Encyclopedia
title=Science Fiction
] In the late 19th century the term "scientific romance" was used in Britain to describe much of this fiction. This produced additional offshoots, such as the 1884 novella "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" by Edwin Abbott Abbott. The term would continue to be used into the early 20th century for writers such as Olaf Stapledon.

In the early 20th century, pulp magazines helped develop a new generation of mainly American SF writers, influenced by Hugo Gernsback, the founder of "Amazing Stories" magazine. In the late 1930s, John W. Campbell became editor of "Astounding Science Fiction", and a critical mass of new writers emerged in New York City in a group called the Futurians, including Isaac Asimov, Damon Knight, Donald A. Wollheim, Frederik Pohl, James Blish, Judith Merril, and others.cite journal
title=The Literature of Fandom
] Other important writers during this period included Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. van Vogt and Stanisław Lem. Campbell's tenure at "Astounding" is considered to be the beginning of the Golden Age of science fiction, characterized by hard SF stories celebrating scientific achievement and progress. This lasted until postwar technological advances, new magazines like "Galaxy" under Pohl as editor, and a new generation of writers began writing stories outside the Campbell mode.

In the 1950s, the Beat generation included speculative writers like William S. Burroughs. In the 1960s and early 1970s, writers like Frank Herbert, Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, and Harlan Ellison explored new trends, ideas, and writing styles, while a group of writers, mainly in Britain, became known as the New Wave. In the 1970s, writers like Larry Niven and Poul Anderson began to redefine hard SF.cite web
title=SF TIMELINE 1960-1970
publisher=Magic Dragon Multimedia
] Ursula K. Le Guin and others pioneered soft science fiction.cite paper
title=A brief historical survey of women writers of science fiction
location=University of Texas in Austin

In the 1980s, cyberpunk authors like William Gibson turned away from the traditional optimism and support for progress of traditional science fiction.cite book
title=Future Visions: New Technologies of the Screen
author=Philip Hayward
publisher=British Film Institute
] "" helped spark a new interest in space opera,cite web
title=Exploding Worlds!
author=Allen Varney
] focusing more on story and character than on scientific accuracy. C. J. Cherryh's detailed explorations of alien life and complex scientific challenges influenced a generation of writers.cite web
title=Intriguing Links to Fabulous People and Places...
author=Vera Nazarian
] Emerging themes in the 1990s included environmental issues, the implications of the global Internet and the expanding information universe, questions about biotechnology and nanotechnology, as well as a post-Cold War interest in post-scarcity societies; Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" comprehensively explores these themes. Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" novels brought the character-driven story back into prominence.cite web
title=Shards of Honor
publisher=NESFA Press
] The television series "" began a torrent of new SF shows,cite web
title=Star Trek: The Next Generation
author=Scott Cummings
] of which Babylon 5 was among the most highly acclaimed in the decade.cite journal
author=David Richardson
journal=Cult Times
title=Dead Man Walking
] cite journal
journal=TV Zone Special
title=The Dream Given Form
] Concern about the rapid pace of technological change crystallized around the concept of the technological singularity, popularized by Vernor Vinge's novel "Marooned in Realtime" and then taken up by other authors.Fact|date=October 2008


While SF has provided criticism of developing and future technologies, it also produces innovation and new technology. The discussion of this topic has occurred more in literary and sociological than in scientific forums. Cinema and media theorist Vivian Sobchack examines the dialogue between science fiction film and the technological imagination. Technology does impact how artists portray their fictionalized subjects, but the fictional world gives back to science by broadening imagination. While more prevalent in the beginning years of science fiction with writers like Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Walker and Arthur C. Clarke, new authors like Michael Crichton still find ways to make the currently impossible technologies seem so close to being realized. [cite web
title=Science Fiction: Bridge between the Two Cultures
author=Sheila Schwartz
publisher=The English Journal
accessdate= 2007-03-26
] This has also been documented in the field of nanotechnology with University of Ottawa Professor José Lopez's article "Bridging the Gaps: Science Fiction in Nanotechnology." Lopez links both theoretical premises of science fiction worlds and the operation of nanotechnologies. [cite web
title=Bridging the Gaps: Science Fiction in Nanotechnology
author=Jose Lopez
accessdate= 2007-03-23


Authors and filmmakers draw on a wide spectrum of ideas, but marketing departments and literary critics tend to separate such literary and cinematic works into different categories, or "genres", and subgenres.cite web
title=An Interview with Hal Duncan
publisher=Del Rey Online
] These are not simple ; works can be overlapped into two or more commonly-defined genres, while others are beyond the generic boundaries, either outside or between categories, and the categories and genres used by mass markets and literary criticism differ considerably.

Hard SF

Hard science fiction, or "hard SF", is characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, or on accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible. Many accurate predictions of the future come from the hard science fiction subgenre, but numerous inaccurate predictions have emerged as well. For example, Arthur C. Clarke accurately predicted geostationary communications satellites,cite web
title=Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-
] but erred in his prediction of deep layers of moondust in lunar craters.cite journal
title=A Fall of Moondust
] Some hard SF authors have distinguished themselves as working scientists, including Alastair Reynolds, Robert Forward, Gregory Benford, Charles Sheffield, Isaac Asimov, and Geoffrey A. Landis,cite journal
title=Teaching Astronomy with Science Fiction: A Resource Guide
journal=Astronomy Education Review
publisher=National Optical Astronomy Observatory
] while mathematician authors include Rudy Rucker and Vernor Vinge. Other noteworthy hard SF authors include Hal Clement, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Robert J. Sawyer, Stephen Baxter.

oft and social SF

The description "soft" science fiction may describe works based on social sciences such as psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology. Noteworthy writers in this category include Ursula K. Le Guin and Philip K. Dick.cite web
title=A History of Science Fiction
author=Agatha Taormina
publisher=Northern Virginia Community College
] cite book
title=Age of Wonders
first=David G.
publisher=Tor Books
] The term can describe stories focused primarily on character and emotion; SFWA Grand Master Ray Bradbury is an acknowledged master of this art.cite book
title=Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy
publisher=Enslow Publishers
] Some writers blur the boundary between hard and soft science fiction.

Related to Social SF and Soft SF are the speculative fiction branches of utopian or dystopian stories; "The Handmaid's Tale", "Nineteen Eighty-Four", and "Brave New World" are examples. Satirical novels with fantastic settings such as "Gulliver's Travels" may be considered speculative fiction.

Cyberpunk and steampunk

The "Cyberpunk" genre emerged in the early 1980s; the name is a portmanteau of "cybernetics" and "punk" [cite book
last = Stableford
first = Brian
title = Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia
publisher = Taylor & Francis Group LLC
year = 2006
pages = 113
id =
] , and was first coined by author Bruce Bethke in his 1980 short story "Cyberpunk". It was later refined by William Gibson's book, "Neuromancer" which is credited for envisioning cyberspace.Published in the November 1983 issue of "Amazing Science Fiction Stories";cite web
last= Bethke
title= Cyberpunk
publisher=Infinity Plus
] The time frame is usually near-future and the settings are often dystopian. Common themes in cyberpunk include advances in information technology and especially the Internet (visually abstracted as cyberspace), artificial intelligence and prosthetics and post-democratic societal control where corporations have more influence than governments. Nihilism, post-modernism, and film noir techniques are common elements, and the protagonists may be disaffected or reluctant anti-heroes. Noteworthy authors in this genre are William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan. The 1982 film "Blade Runner" has been called a definitive example of the "cyberpunk" visual style.cite web
publisher=Sci-Fi Movie Page
author=James O'Ehley
] Verify credibility|date=October 2008

Time travel

Time travel stories have antecedents in the 18th and 19th centuries, and this subgenre was popularized by H. G. Wells's novel "The Time Machine". Stories of this type are complicated by logical problems such as the grandfather paradox.cite web
title=Time Travel and Modern Physics
authors=Frank Artzenius and Tim Maudlin
publisher=Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
] Time travel is a popular subject in novels, and in television series, either as individual episodes within more general science fiction series, for example, "The City on the Edge of Forever" in "", or as one-off productions such as "The Flipside of Dominick Hide".

Alternate history

Alternate history stories are based on the premise that historical events might have turned out differently. These stories may use time travel to change the past, or may simply set a story in a universe with a different history from our own. Classics in the genre include "Bring the Jubilee" by Ward Moore, in which the South wins the American Civil War and "The Man in the High Castle", by Philip K. Dick, in which Germany and Japan win World War II. The Sidewise Award acknowledges the best works in this subgenre; the name is taken from Murray Leinster's early story "Sidewise in Time".

Military SF

Military science fiction is set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces; the primary viewpoint characters are usually soldiers. Stories include detail about military technology, procedure, ritual, and history; military stories may use parallels with historical conflicts. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" is an early example, along with the Dorsai novels of Gordon Dickson. Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War" is a critique of the genre, a Vietnam-era response to the World War II-style stories of earlier authors.cite web
title=Joe Haldeman, 1943-
author=Henry Jenkins
] Prominent military SF authors include David Drake, David Weber, and S. M. Stirling. Baen Books is known for cultivating military science fiction authors.cite web
title=Website Interview with Toni Weisskopf on SF Canada
publisher=Baen Books

Other sub-genres

*Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of civilization through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster or with a world or civilization after such a disaster.
*Feminist science fiction - Feminist science fiction poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women. Some of the most notable feminist science fiction works have illustrated these themes using utopias to explore a society in which gender differences or gender power imbalances do not exist, or dystopias to explore worlds in which gender inequalities are intensified, thus asserting a need for feminist work to continue. [Elyce Rae Helford, in Westfahl, Gary. "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy": Greenwood Press, 2005: 289-290 ]
*New Wave is a term applied to science fiction writing characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility.
*Science fiction Western has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. A science fiction Western occurs in the past, or in a world resembling the past, in which modern or future technology exists.
*Space opera emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.
*Space Western - is primarily grounded in film and television, that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers
*Steampunk is set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

Related genres

peculative fiction, fantasy, and horror

The broader category of speculative fictioncite web
title=Science Fiction Citations
] includes science fiction, fantasy, alternate histories (which may have no particular scientific or futuristic component), and even literary stories that contain fantastic elements, such as the work of Jorge Luis Borges or John Barth. For some editors, magic realism is considered to be within the broad definition of speculative fiction.cite web
title=Aeon Magazine Writer's Guidelines
publisher+Aeon Magazine


Fantasy is closely associated with science fiction, and many writers have worked in both genres, while writers such as Anne McCaffrey and Marion Zimmer Bradley have written works that appear to blur the boundary between the two related genres.cite web
title=Anne McCaffrey
] The authors' professional organization is called the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).cite web
title=Information About SFWA
publisher=Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.
] SF conventions routinely have programming on fantasy topics,cite web
title=Student Science Fiction and Fantasy Contest
author=Peggy Rae Sapienza and Judy Kindell
publisher=L.A.con IV
] cite web
title=Program notes
author=Steven H Silver
publisher=Chicon 2000
] cite web
title=Links, "Conventions and Writers' Workshops"
author=Carol Berg
] and fantasy authors such as J. K. Rowling have won the highest honor within the science fiction field, the Hugo Award.cite web
title=The Hugo Awards By Category
publisher=World Science Fiction Society
] Some works show how difficult it is to draw clear boundaries between subgenres; however authors and readers often make a distinction between fantasy and SF.Fact|date=May 2008 In general, science fiction is the literature of things that might someday be possible, and fantasy is the literature of things that are inherently impossible. Magic and mythology are popular themes in fantasy.cite journal
title=On Incorporating Mythology into Fantasy, or How to Write Mythical Fantasy in 752 Easy Steps
author=Robert B. Marks
journal=Story and Myth
] Some narratives are described as being essentially science fiction but "with fantasy elements." The term "science fantasy" is sometimes used to describe such material.cite journal
journal=Science Fiction Studies
title=Recent Bibliographies of Science Fiction and Fantasy
author=Elkins, Charles

Horror fiction

Horror fiction is the literature of the unnatural and supernatural, with the aim of unsettling or frightening the reader, sometimes with graphic violence. Historically it has also been known as weird fiction. Although horror is not "per se" a branch of science fiction, many works of horror literature incorporates science fictional elements. One of the defining classical works of horror, Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein", is a fully-realized work of science fiction, where the manufacture of the monster is given a rigorous science-fictional grounding. The works of Edgar Allan Poe also helped define both the science fiction and the horror genres.cite journal
title=The Horror Timeline, "Part I: Pre-20th Century"
author=David Carroll and Kyla Ward
journal=Burnt Toast
] Today horror is one of the most popular categories of films.cite web
title=Horror Films Still Scaring – and Delighting – Audiences
author=Chad Austin
publisher=North Carolina State University News

Mystery fiction

Works in which science and technology are a dominant theme, but based on current reality, may be considered mainstream fiction. Much of the thriller genre would be included, such as the novels of Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton, or the James Bond films.cite web
title=Utopian ideas hidden inside Dystopian sf
publisher=False Positives
] Modernist works from writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, and Stanisław Lem have focused on speculative or existential perspectives on contemporary reality and are on the borderline between SF and the mainstream.cite journal
title=Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)
] According to Robert J. Sawyer, "Science fiction and mystery have a great deal in common. Both prize the intellectual process of puzzle solving, and both require stories to be plausible and hinge on the way things really do work."cite journal
title=Spotlight On... Robert J. Sawyer
issue=November 1997
publisher=Crime Writes of Canada
] Isaac Asimov, Walter Mosley, and other writers incorporate mystery elements in their science fiction, and vice versa.Fact|date=October 2008

uperhero fiction

Superhero fiction is a genre characterized by beings with much higher than usual capability and prowess, generally with a desire or need to help the citizens of their chosen country or world by using his or her powers to defeat natural or superpowered threats. Many superhero fiction characters involve themselves (either intentionally or accidentally) with science fiction and fact, including advanced technologies, alien worlds, time travel, and interdimensional travel; but the standards of scientific plausibility are lower than with actual science fiction. Authors of this genre include Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk); Marv Wolfman, the creator of "Blade" for Marvel Comics, and "The New Teen Titans" for DC Comics; Dean Wesley Smith ("Star Trek", "Smallville", "Spider-Man", and "X-Men" novels) and "Superman" writers Roger Stern and Elliot S! Maggin.

Fandom and community

Science fiction fandom is the "community of the literature of ideas... the culture in which new ideas emerge and grow before being released into society at large."cite paper
author = von Thorn, Alexander
title = Aurora Award acceptance speech
location = Calgary, Alberta
] Members of this community, "fans", are in contact with each other at conventions or clubs, through print or online fanzines, or on the Internet using web sites, mailing lists, and other resources.

SF fandom emerged from the letters column in "Amazing Stories" magazine. Soon fans began writing letters to each other, and then grouping their comments together in informal publications that became known as fanzines.cite book
title=The World of Fanzines
publisher=Carbondale & Evanston: Southern Illinois University Press
] Once they were in regular contact, fans wanted to meet each other, and they organized local clubs. In the 1930s, the first science fiction conventions gathered fans from a wider area.cite web
title=Fancyclopedia I: C - Cosmic Circle
] Conventions, clubs, and fanzines were the dominant form of fan activity, or "fanac", for decades, until the Internet facilitated communication among a much larger population of interested people.


Among the most respected awards for science fiction are the Hugo Award, presented by the World Science Fiction Society at Worldcon, and the Nebula Award, presented by SFWA and voted on by the community of authors. One notable award for science fiction films is the Saturn Award. It is presented annually by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

There are national awards, like Canada's Aurora Award, regional awards, like the Endeavour Award presented at Orycon for works from the Pacific Northwest, special interest or subgenre awards like the Chesley Award for art or the World Fantasy Award for fantasy. Magazines may organize reader polls, notably the Locus Award.

Conventions, clubs, and organizations

Conventions (in fandom, shortened as "cons"), are held in cities around the world, catering to a local, regional, national, or international membership. General-interest conventions cover all aspects of science fiction, while others focus on a particular interest like media fandom, filking, etc. Most are organized by volunteers in non-profit groups, though most media-oriented events are organized by commercial promoters. The convention's activities are called the "program", which may include panel discussions, readings, autograph sessions, costume masquerades, and other events. Activities that occur throughout the convention are not part of the program; these commonly include a dealer's room, art show, and hospitality lounge (or "con suites").cite web
title=What Are Science Fiction Conventions Like?
author=Lawrence Watt-Evans

Conventions may host award ceremonies; Worldcons present the Hugo Awards each year.SF societies, referred to as "clubs" except in formal contexts, form a year-round base of activities for science fiction fans. They may be associated with an ongoing science fiction convention, or have regular club meetings, or both. Most groups meet in libraries, schools and universities, community centers, pubs or restaurants, or the homes of individual members. Long-established groups like the New England Science Fiction Association and the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society have clubhouses for meetings and storage of convention supplies and research materials.cite journal
title=Is Your Club Dead Yet?
author=Mike Glyer
journal=File 770
] The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) was founded by Damon Knight in 1965 as a non-profit organization to serve the community of professional science fiction authors. Fandom has helped incubate related groups, including media fandom,cite web
title=History of sf Fandom
author=Robert Runte
] the Society for Creative Anachronism,cite web
title=Origins of the Middle Kingdom
publisher=Folump Enterprises
] gaming,cite web
author=Ken St. Andre
publisher=Central Arizona Science Fiction Society
] filking, and furry fandom.cite book|last=Patten|first=Fred|year=2006|title=Furry! The World's Best Anthropomorphic Fiction|publisher=ibooks]

Fanzines and online fandom

The first science fiction fanzine, "The Comet", was published in 1930.cite web
title=British Fanzine Bibliography
author=Rob Hansen
] Fanzine printing methods have changed over the decades, from the hectograph, the mimeograph, and the ditto machine, to modern photocopying. Subscription volumes rarely justify the cost of commercial printing. Modern fanzines are printed on computer printers or at local copy shops, or they may only be sent as email. The best known fanzine (or "'zine") today is "Ansible," edited by David Langford, winner of numerous Hugo awards. Other fanzines to win awards in recent years include "File 770," "Mimosa," and "Plokta".cite web
title=Hugo Awards by Category
publisher=World Science Fiction Society
] Artists working for fanzines have risen to prominence in the field, including Brad W. Foster, Teddy Harvia and Joe Mayhew; the Hugos include a category for Best Fan Artists.The earliest organized fandom online was the [ SF Lovers] community, originally a mailing list in the late 1970s with a text archive file that was updated regularly.cite web
title=History of the Net is Important
author=Keith Lynch
] In the 1980s, Usenet groups greatly expanded the circle of fans online. In the 1990s, the development of the World-Wide Web exploded the community of online fandom by orders of magnitude, with thousands and then literally millions of web sites devoted to science fiction and related genres for all media. Most such sites are small, , and/or very narrowly focused, though sites like SF Site offer a broad range of references and reviews about science fiction.

Fan fiction

Fan fiction, known to aficionados as "fanfic", is non-commercial fiction created by fans in the setting of an established book, film, or television series.cite book
title=The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
publisher=Houghton Mifflin Company
] This modern meaning of the term should not be confused with the traditional (pre-1970s) meaning of "fan fiction" within the community of fandom, where the term meant original or parody fiction written by fans and published in fanzines, often with members of fandom as characters therein ("faan fiction"). Examples of this would include the Goon stories by Walt Willis. In the last few years, sites have appeared such as Orion's Arm and Galaxiki, which encourage collaborative development of science fiction universes. In some cases, the copyright owners of the books, films, or television series have instructed their lawyers to issue "cease and desist" letters to fans.

cience fiction studies

The study of science fiction, or science fiction studies, is the critical assessment, interpretation, and discussion of science fiction literature, film, new media, fandom, and fan fiction. Science fiction scholars take science fiction as an object of study in order to better understand it and its relationship to science, technology, politics, and culture-at-large. Science fiction studies has a long history dating back to the turn of the twentieth century, but it was not until later that science fiction studies solidified as a discipline with the publication of the academic journals Extrapolation (1959), Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction (1972), and Science Fiction Studies (1973), and the establishment of the oldest organizations devoted to the study of science fiction, the Science Fiction Research Association and the Science Fiction Foundation, in 1970. The field has grown considerably since the 1970s with the establishment of more journals, organizations, and conferences with ties to the science fiction scholarship community, and science fiction degree-granting programs such as those offered by the University of Liverpool and Kansas University.

cience fiction world-wide

Africa and African diaspora


Continental Europe

Germany and Austria:Current well-known SF authors from Germany are five-time "Kurd-Laßwitz-Award" winner Andreas Eschbach, whose books "The Carpet Makers" and "Eine Billion Dollar" are big successes, and Frank Schätzing, who in his book "The Swarm" mixes elements of the science thriller with SF elements to an apocalyptic scenario. The most prominent German-speaking author, according to "Die Zeit", is Austrian Herbert W. Franke.

A well known science fiction book series in German is Perry Rhodan, which started in 1961. Having sold over one billion copies (in pulp format), it claims to be the most successful science fiction book series ever written world-wide. []


North America

ee also

* List of science fiction themes
* List of science fiction authors
* List of science fiction novels
* Skiffy

Notes and references



* Barron, Neil, ed. "Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction" (5th ed.). (Libraries Unlimited, 2004) ISBN 1-59158-171-0.
* Clute, John "Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia". London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995. ISBN 0-7513-0202-3.
* Clute, John and Peter Nicholls, eds., "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction". St Albans, Herts, UK: Granada Publishing, 1979. ISBN 0-586-05380-8.
* Clute, John and Peter Nicholls, eds., "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction". New York: St Martin's Press, 1995. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
* Disch, Thomas M. "The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of". Touchstone, 1998.
* Reginald, Robert. "Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991". Detroit, MI/Washington, DC/London: Gale Research, 1992. ISBN 0-8103-1825-3.
* Weldes, Jutta, ed. "To Seek Out New Worlds: Exploring Links between Science Fiction and World Politics". Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 0-312-29557-X.
* Westfahl, Gary, ed. "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders" (three volumes). Greenwood Press, 2005.
* Wolfe, Gary K. "Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Glossary and Guide to Scholarship". Greenwood Press, 1986. ISBN 0-313-22981-3.

External links

* [ Science Fiction (Bookshelf)] at Project Gutenberg
* [ SF Hub] - resources for science-fiction research
* [ Science fiction fanzines (current and historical) online]
* [ List of science fiction and fantasy E-zines]
* [ Locus 1977 All-Time Best Author Poll]
* [ Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America] - their "Suggested Reading" page

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