Saturday, 23 April 2016

What Is Science Fiction?

I have been blogging about my science fiction novel, which is now published (Hooray!). So I thought it time to think about wider issues. If you sign up to my mailing list you will get a free Brief History of Science Fiction. So I thought we could look at that in some more detail.

We first have to consider what we mean by science fiction. All fiction, at the most basic level, deals with 'What if?' What if these kind of people were put into this kind of situation - what would they do? Science fiction and fantasy add to this: what if they were in this kind of world? What if they had these technologies or powers?


To my mind, science fiction has got to be about science and technology, otherwise it's fantasy, but many would disagree with me. I can understand why many people today like to use the term 'speculative fiction,' and lump it all together. Here are the definitions of a few science fiction writers:

Hugo GernsbackHugo Gernsback was one of the first in using the term "scientifiction": By 'scientifiction' I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story—a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.




William Atheling Jr. wrote about the term "science fiction": Wells used the term originally to cover what we would today call ‘hard’ science fiction, in which a conscientious attempt to be faithful to already known facts (as of the date of writing) was the substrate on which the story was to be built, and if the story was also to contain a miracle, it ought at least not to contain a whole arsenal of them.

Robert A HeinleinRobert 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.

Arthur C ClarkeArthur C Clarke: Science fiction is something that could happen - but you usually wouldn't want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen - though you often wish that it could.

Rod Serling – of Twilight Zone fame: Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.


Science fiction also deals with one of mankind's deepest fears – fear of the unknown. Just what is out there in space? Are there aliens, other worlds? Are there undiscovered worlds or people or powers here on Earth? What about artificial life – cyborgs and robots? It preys on the hope brought by technological and scientific advances, and the fear of them getting out of hand. And then there are the infinite possibilities of time travel…

My novel Intruders is definitely science fiction, because it’s about spaceships and aliens, but it’s not about the technology. I write what I call social science fiction – it’s about people coping with situations, interacting, learning and changing. Hope you’ll buy it and enjoy it.

Get A Brief History of Science Fiction free here!

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