Science fiction (often shortened to SF or sci-fi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, spaceflight, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas". It usually avoids the supernatural, unlike the related genre of fantasy. Historically, science-fiction stories have had a grounding in actual science, but now this is only expected of hard science fiction.
Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes. Hugo Gernsback, who suggested the term "scientifiction" for his Amazing Stories magazine, wrote: "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... Not only do these amazing tales make tremendously interesting reading—they are always instructive. They supply knowledge... in a very palatable form... New adventures pictured for us in the scientifiction of today are not at all impossible of realization tomorrow... Many great science stories destined to be of historical interest are still to be written... Posterity will point to them as having blazed a new trail, not only in literature and fiction, but progress as well."
James Blish wrote about the English 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."
Isaac Asimov said: "Science fiction can be defined as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology." According to 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."
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." Author and editor Damon Knight summed up the difficulty, saying "science fiction is what we point to when we say it", while author Mark C. Glassy argues that the definition of science fiction is like the definition of pornography: you do not know what it is, but you know it when you see it.
Forrest J Ackerman is credited with first using the term "sci-fi" (analogous to the then-trendy "hi-fi") in 1954. 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. By the 1970s, critics within the field such as Knight and Terry Carr were using sci-fi to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction. Peter Nicholls writes that "SF" (or "sf") is "the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers."
The author is entitled to One Big Lie. He can say, for example, that faster-than-light travel is possible; or that a time machine has been invented; or that men can read each other's minds. What comes after that may not be a lie, however; it must follow naturally and inevitably from that first premise.
Science fiction elements include:
Hard science fiction is characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy. The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell's Islands of Space in Astounding Science Fiction. The complementary term soft science fiction, formed by analogy to hard science fiction, first appeared in the late 1970s; referring to the popular distinction between the "hard" (natural) and "soft" (social) sciences. Science fiction critic Gary Westfahl argues that neither term is part of a rigorous taxonomy; instead they are approximate ways of characterizing stories that reviewers and commentators have found useful.
Soft science fiction includes works based on social sciences such as psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology. The term can also describe stories focused primarily on character and emotion. The early members of the soft science fiction genre were Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury and James Blish, who were the first to make a "radical" break from the hard science fiction tradition and "take extrapolation explicitly inward", emphasising the characters and their characterisation.
Science fiction began in the time when the line between myth and fact was blurred. Written in the 2nd century AD by the Hellenized Syrian satirist Lucian, A True Story contains many themes and tropes that are characteristic of modern science fiction, including travel to other worlds, extraterrestrial lifeforms, interplanetary warfare, and artificial life. Some considered it the first science fiction novel. Some of the stories from The Arabian Nights, along with the 10th century The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and Ibn al-Nafis's 13th century Theologus Autodidactus also contain elements of science fiction.
A product of the Age of Reason and the development of modern science itself, Johannes Kepler's Somnium (1620–1630). Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis (1627), Cyrano de Bergerac's Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (1657), his The States and Empires of the Sun (1662), Margaret Cavendish's "The Blazing World" (1666), Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), Ludvig Holberg's novel Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum (1741) and Voltaire's Micromégas (1752) are some of the first true science fantasy works, which feature adventures in fictional and fantastical places, or the Moon. Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan considered Kepler's work the first science fiction story. It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth's motion is seen from there.
Following the 18th-century development of the novel as a literary form, Mary Shelley's books Frankenstein (1818) and The Last Man (1826) helped define the form of the science fiction novel. Brian Aldiss has argued that Frankenstein was the first work of science fiction. Edgar Allan Poe wrote several stories considered science fiction, including one about a trip to the Moon.
In the late 19th century, the term "scientific romance" was used in Britain to describe much of this fiction. The term remained in use into the early 20th century for writers such as Olaf Stapledon. With the dawn of new technologies such as electricity, the telegraph, and new forms of transportation, writers including Jules Verne and H. G. Wells created a body of work that became popular across broad cross-sections of society. Verne in his novels is noted for his attention to detail and scientific accuracy, especially Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), which predicted the modern nuclear submarine. Many critics consider Wells one of science fiction's most important authors. Brian Aldiss called him "the Shakespeare of science fiction”. His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. In his non-fiction futurologist works he predicted the advent of airplanes, military tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web.
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 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs published A Princess of Mars, the first of his three-decade-long series of Barsoom novels, situated on Mars and featuring John Carter as the hero. In 1928 E. E. "Doc" Smith’s first published work, The Skylark of Space written in collaboration with Lee Hawkins Garby, appeared in Amazing Stories. It is often called the first great space opera. The 1928 publication of Philip Francis Nowlan's original Buck Rogers story, Armageddon 2419, in Amazing Stories was a landmark event. This story led to comic strips featuring Buck Rogers (1929), Brick Bradford (1933), and Flash Gordon (1934). The comic strips and derivative movie serials greatly popularized science fiction.
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. Campbell's tenure at Astounding is considered the beginning of the Golden Age of science fiction, characterized by hard SF stories celebrating scientific achievement and progress. Other important writers during this period include Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. van Vogt, Ray Bradbury and Stanisław Lem. In 1942, Asimov started his Foundation series, which chronicles the rise and fall of galactic empires and introduced psychohistory.
In the 1950s, the Beat generation included speculative writers such as William S. Burroughs. In 1959 Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers marked a departure from his earlier juvenile stories and novels. It is considered one of the first and most influential examples of military science fiction, and introduced the concept of powered armor exoskeletons. The German space opera series Perry Rhodan, by various authors, started in 1961 with an account of the first Moon landing and has since expanded to the entire Universe and billions of years of time; becoming the most popular science fiction book series of all time. 1965's Dune by Frank Herbert featured a much more complex and detailed imagined future society than had been common in science fiction before. 1969’s The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin was set on a planet in which the inhabitants have no fixed gender. It is considered one of the most influential examples of social science fiction, feminist science fiction, and anthropological science fiction.
The New Wave movement in science fiction developed out of soft science fiction in the 1960s and 70s. New Wave authors were known for their embrace of a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility; Brian Aldiss, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Norman Spinrad, Roger Zelazny are writers whose work, though not considered New Wave at the time of publication, later became to be associated with the label.
In 1984 William Gibson’s first novel Neuromancer helped popularize cyberpunk, and the word "cyberspace" -- a term he coined in his 1982 short story Burning Chrome. This dystopian vision of the near future is also described in the works of Philip K. Dick. C. J. Cherryh's detailed explorations of alien life and complex scientific challenges influenced a generation of writers. 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 explores these themes. Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan novels brought the character-driven story back into prominence. 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. Other science fiction trends and sub-genres of the late Twentieth and early Twenty-first centuries include steampunk,  biopunk, , and mundane science fiction. 
The first known science fiction film is 1902's A Trip to the Moon, directed by French filmmaker Georges Méliès. It was profoundly influential on later filmmakers, bringing creativity to the cinematic medium and offering fantasy for pure entertainment, a rare goal in film at the time. In addition, Méliès's innovative editing and special effects techniques were widely imitated and became important elements of the medium. The film also spurred on the development of cinematic science fiction and fantasy by demonstrating that scientific themes worked on the screen and that reality could be transformed by the camera.
1927's Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, is the first feature-length science fiction film. Though not well received in its time, it is now considered a great and influential film. Since that time science fiction films have become one of the most popular and enduring film genres.
In 1954 Godzilla, directed by Ishirō Honda, began the kaiju subgenre of science fiction film, which feature large creatures of any form, usually attacking a major city or engaging other monsters in battle.
1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the work of Arthur C. Clarke, rose above the mostly B-movie offerings up to that time in scope and quality and greatly influenced later science fiction films. That same year Planet of the Apes, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes by Pierre Boulle, was also popular and critically acclaimed for its vivid depiction of a post-apocalyptic world in which intelligent apes dominate humans.
In 1977 George Lucas began the Star Wars film series with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The series went on to become a worldwide popular culture phenomenon, and the third highest-grossing film series.
Science fiction films often “crossover” with other genres including animation (Wall-E), fantasy (Avatar), gangster (Sky Racket), Western (Serenity), comedy (Spaceballs), war (Enemy Mine), sports (Rollerball), mystery (Minority Report), film noir (Blade Runner), and romantic comedy (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Science fiction action films feature science fiction elements weaved into action film premises.
Science fiction and television have always had a close relationship. Television or television-like technologies frequently appeared in science fiction long before television itself became widely available in the late 1940s and early 1950s; perhaps most famously in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first known science fiction television program was produced by the BBC's pre-war BBC Television service. On 11 February 1938 a thirty-five-minute adapted extract of the play RUR, written by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek, was broadcast live from the BBC's Alexandra Palace studios. The first popular science fiction program on American television was the children's adventure serial Captain Video and His Video Rangers, which ran from June 1949 to April 1955.
The Twilight Zone, produced and narrated by Rod Serling, who also wrote or co-wrote most of the episodes, ran from 1959 to 1964. It featured fantasy and horror as well as science fiction, with each episode being a complete story. Critics have ranked it as one of the best TV programs of any genre. The Jetsons, while intended as comedy and only running for one season (1962-1963), predicted many devices now in common use: flatscreen television, newspaper on a computer-like screen, computer viruses, video chat, tanning beds, home treadmills and more.
In 1963 the time travel themed Doctor Who premiered on BBC Television. The original series ran until 1989 and was revived in 2005. It has been extremely popular worldwide and has greatly influenced later TV science fiction programs, as well as popular culture. Star Trek, produced by Gene Roddenberry, premiered in 1966 on NBC Television and ran through the 1969 season. It combined elements of space opera and space Western. Although only mildly successful it gained popularity through later syndication and eventually spawned a very popular and influential franchise through films, later programs, and novels; as well as by intense fan interest. Other programs in the 1960s included The Prisoner, The Outer Limits, and Lost in Space.
In 1987 Star Trek: The Next Generation began a torrent of new shows, including three further Star Trek continuation shows (Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise) and Babylon 5. Red Dwarf, a comic science fiction series aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999, and on Dave since 2009, gaining a cult following. To date, eleven full series of the show plus one "special" miniseries have aired. The latest series, dubbed Red Dwarf XII, started airing in October 2017. The X-Files, which featured UFOs and conspiracy theories, was created by Chris Carter and broadcast by Fox Broadcasting Company from 1993 to 2002. Stargate, a film about ancient astronauts and interstellar teleportation, was released in 1994. Stargate SG-1 premiered in 1997 and ran for 10 seasons. Spin-off series included Stargate Infinity, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe.
Science fiction’s great rise in popularity in the first half of the twentieth century was closely tied to the respect paid to science at that time, as well as the rapid pace of technological innovation and new inventions. Since that time science fiction has both contributed to the innovation of new technologies and criticized their possible harmful effects. This topic has been more often discussed in literary and sociological than in scientific forums. Cinema and media theorist Vivian Sobchack examines the dialogue between science fiction films and the technological imagination. Technology impacts artists and how they portray their fictionalized subjects, but the fictional world gives back to science by broadening imagination. How William Shatner Changed the World is a documentary that gave a number of real-world examples of actualized technological imaginations. While more prevalent in the early years of science fiction with writers like Arthur C. Clarke, new authors still find ways to make currently impossible technologies seem closer to being realized.
Science fiction has almost always predicted scientific and technological progress. Some works predict this leading to improvements in life and society, for instance the stories of Arthur C. Clarke and the Star Trek series. While others warn about possible negative consequences, for instance H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Adlous Huxley’s Brave New World. The National Science Foundation has conducted surveys of "Public Attitudes and Public Understanding" of "Science Fiction and Pseudoscience." They write that "Interest in science fiction may affect the way people think about or relate to science....one study found a strong relationship between preference for science fiction novels and support for the space program...The same study also found that students who read science fiction are much more likely than other students to believe that contacting extraterrestrial civilizations is both possible and desirable."
Science fiction has sometimes been used as a means of social protest. James Cameron’s film Avatar was intended as a protest against imperialism, and specifically against the European colonization of the Americas. Its images were used by, among others, Palestinians in their protest against Israel.
Robots, artificial humans, human clones, intelligent computers, and their possible conflicts with humans has been a major theme of science fiction since the publication of Frankenstein. Some critics have seen this as reflecting authors’ concerns over the social alienation seen in modern society.
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 over 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.
Libertarian science fiction focuses on the politics and the social order implied by right libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and private property, and in some cases anti-statism.
Climate fiction, or "cli-fi" deals with issues concerning climate change and global warming. University courses on literature and environmental issues may include climate change fiction in their syllabi, as well as it being discussed by the media, outside of SF fandom.
Science fiction is often said to generate a "sense of wonder." Science fiction editor and critic David Hartwell writes: "Science fiction’s appeal lies in combination of the rational, the believable, with the miraculous. It is an appeal to the sense of wonder." Isaac Asimov in 1967 commenting on the changes then occurring in SF wrote: "And because today’s real life so resembles day-before-yesterday’s fantasy, the old-time fans are restless. Deep within, whether they admit it or not, is a feeling of disappointment and even outrage that the outer world has invaded their private domain. They feel the loss of a 'sense of wonder' because what was once truly confined to “wonder” has now become prosaic and mundane."
Science fiction is being written worldwide by a diverse population of authors. According to 2013 statistics by the science fiction publisher Tor Books, men outnumber women by 78% to 22% among submissions to the publisher. A controversy about voting slates in the 2015 Hugo Awards highlighted tensions in the science fiction community between a trend of increasingly diverse works and authors being honored by awards, and a backlash by groups of authors and fans who preferred what they considered more traditional science fiction.
Among the most respected awards for science fiction are the Hugo Award, presented by the World Science Fiction Society at Worldcon; the Nebula Award, presented by SFWA and voted on by the community of authors; and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for short fiction. 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 Prix Aurora Awards, 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 (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 occur throughout the convention that are not part of the program. These commonly include a dealer's room, art show, and hospitality lounge (or "con suites").
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 Fantasy Society have clubhouses for meetings and storage of convention supplies and research materials. 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,
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." 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. 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. 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.
The first science fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930. Fanzine printing methods have changed over the decades, from the hectograph, the mimeograph, and the ditto machine, to modern photocopying. Distribution 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. 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. 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, ephemeral, and/or very narrowly focused, though sites like SF Site and SFcrowsnest offer a broad range of references and reviews about science fiction.
Fan fiction, or "fanfic", is non-commercial fiction created by fans in the setting of an established book, film, video game, or television series. This modern meaning of the term should not be confused with the traditional (pre-1970s) meaning of "fan fiction" within the community of science fiction fandom, where the term meant original or parody fiction written by fans and published in fanzines, often with members of fandom as characters therein. Examples of this would include the Goon Defective Agency stories, written starting in 1956 by Irish fan John Berry and published in his and Arthur Thomson's fanzine Retribution. 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.
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 study science fiction 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 20th 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.
Mary Shelley wrote a number of science fiction novels including Frankenstein, and is considered a major writer of the Romantic Age. A number of science fiction works have received critical acclaim including Childhood's End and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and some respected writers of mainstream literature have written science fiction, including Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, and Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing wrote a series of SF novels, Canopus in Argos, and nearly all of Kurt Vonnegut's works contain science fiction premises or themes. The science fiction of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, written under the name Cordwainer Smith, is also considered to be serious literature.
In her much reprinted essay "Science Fiction and Mrs Brown," Ursula K. Le Guin first asks: "Can a science fiction writer write a novel?"; and answers: "I believe that all novels, ... deal with character, and that it is to express character – not to preach doctrines, sing songs, or celebrate the glories of the British Empire, that the form of the novel, so clumsy, verbose, and undramatic, so rich, elastic, and alive, has been evolved ... The great novelists have brought us to see whatever they wish us to see through some character. Otherwise they would not be novelists, but poets, historians, or pamphleteers."
Tom Shippey asks: "What is its relationship to fantasy fiction, is its readership still dominated by male adolescents, is it a taste which will appeal to the mature but non-eccentric literary mind?" He compares George Orwell's Coming Up for Air with Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's The Space Merchants and concludes that the basic building block and distinguishing feature of a science fiction novel is the presence of the novum, a term Darko Suvin adapts from Ernst Bloch and defines as "a discrete piece of information recognizable as not-true, but also as not-unlike-true, not-flatly- (and in the current state of knowledge) impossible."
Orson Scott Card, best known for his 1985 science fiction novel Ender's Game and also an author of non-SF fiction, has postulated that in science fiction the message and intellectual significance of the work is contained within the story itself and, therefore, there need not be stylistic gimmicks or literary games; but that some writers and critics confuse clarity of language with lack of artistic merit. In Card's words: "...a great many writers and critics have based their entire careers on the premise that anything that the general public can understand without mediation is worthless drivel. [...] If everybody came to agree that stories should be told this clearly, the professors of literature would be out of a job, and the writers of obscure, encoded fiction would be, not honored, but pitied for their impenetrability."
Science fiction author and physicist Gregory Benford has declared that: "SF is perhaps the defining genre of the twentieth century, although its conquering armies are still camped outside the Rome of the literary citadels." Jonathan Lethem in an essay published in the Village Voice entitled "Close Encounters: The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction" suggests that the point in 1973 when Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow was nominated for the Nebula Award, and was passed over in favor of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, stands as "a hidden tombstone marking the death of the hope that SF was about to merge with the mainstream." Among the responses to Lethem was one from the editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction who asked: "When is it [the SF genre] ever going to realize it can't win the game of trying to impress the mainstream?"
David Barnett has remarked: "The ongoing, endless war between "literary" fiction and "genre" fiction has well-defined lines in the sand. Genre's foot soldiers think that literary fiction is a collection of meaningless but prettily drawn pictures of the human condition. The literary guard consider genre fiction to be crass, commercial, whizz-bang potboilers. Or so it goes." Barnett has said that there are works such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy, one of the sections of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which all use recognizable science fiction tropes, but whose authors and publishers do not market them as science fiction.
Although perhaps most developed as a genre and community in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, science fiction is a worldwide phenomenon. Organisations devoted to promotion and translation in particular countries are commonplace, as are country- or language-specific genre awards.
Mohammed Dib, an Algerian writer, wrote a science fiction allegory about his nation's politics, Qui se souvient de la mer (Who Remembers the Sea?) in 1962. Masimba Musodza, a Zimbabwean author, published MunaHacha Maive Nei? the first science-fiction novel in the Shona language, which also holds the distinction of being the first novel in the Shona language to appear as an ebook first before it came out in print. In South Africa, a movie titled District 9 came out in 2009, an apartheid allegory featuring extraterrestrial life forms, produced by Peter Jackson.
Afrofuturism is a genre of science fiction and speculative fiction that consists largely of the work produced by members of the African diaspora in the Americas. The term "afrofuturism" was coined in 1993 by Mark Dery in his essay Black to the Future. "For better or worse, I am often spoken of as the first African-American science fiction writer," Samuel R. Delany said in an interview with Dark Matter, recognizing, too, writers of "proto-science fiction" such as black nationalist Martin Delany and M. P. Shiel, a British writer of Creole descent.
Indian science fiction, defined loosely as science fiction by writers of Indian descent, began with the English-language publication of Kylas Chundar Dutt's A Journal of Forty-Eight Hours of the Year 1945 in the Calcutta Literary Gazette (6 June 1835). Since this story was intended as a political polemic, credit for the first science fiction story is often given to later Bengali authors such as Jagadananda Roy, Hemlal Dutta and the polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose. Eminent film maker and writer Satyajit Ray also enriched Bengali science fiction by writing many short stories as well as science fiction series, Professor Shonku (see Bengali science fiction). Similar traditions exist in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and English. In English, the modern era of Indian speculative fiction began with the works of authors such as Samit Basu, Payal Dhar, Vandana Singh and Anil Menon. Works such as Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Salman Rushdie's Grimus, and Boman Desai's The Memory of Elephants are generally classified as magic realist works but make essential use of SF tropes and techniques. In recent years authors in some other Indian languages have begun telling stories in this genre; for example in Punjabi IP Singh and Roop Dhillon have written stories that can clearly be defined as Punjabi science fiction. The latter has coined the term Vachitarvaad to describe such literature.
Bangladesh has a strong science fiction literature. After Qazi Abdul Halim's Mohasunner Kanna (Tears of the Cosmos) (1970), Humayun Ahmed published Tomader Jonno Valobasa (Love For You All) in 1973. Another Bengali writer of science fiction is Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, who wrote "Copotronic Sukh Dukho" ("Copotronic Emotions"). This story was later included in a compilation of Iqbal's work in a book by the same name. Iqbal later transformed his own science fiction cartoon strip Mohakashe Mohatrash (Terror in the Cosmos) into a novel. Nasim Sahnic is a science fiction writer in Bangladesh. His books are famous with the younger generation.
Modern science fiction in China mainly depends on the magazine Science Fiction World. A number of works were originally published in it in installments, including the highly successful novel The Three-Body Problem, written by Liu Cixin.
Until recently, there has been little domestic science fiction literature in Korea. Within the small field, the author and critic writing under the nom de plume Djuna has been credited with being the major force. Kim Boyoung, Bae Myunghoon and Kwak Jaesik are also often mentioned as the new generation of Korean science fiction writers of 2010s. The upswing that began in 2009 has been attributed by Shin Junebong to a combination of factors. Shin quotes Djuna as saying, "'It looks like the various literary awards established by one newspaper after another, with hefty sums of prize money, had a big impact.'"  Another factor cited was the active use of Web bulletin boards among the then-young writers brought up on translations of Western SF. In spite of the increase, there were still no more than sixty or so authors writing in the field at that time.
Chalomot Be'aspamia is an Israeli magazine of short science fiction and fantasy stories. The Prophecies Of Karma, published in 2011, is advertised as the first work of science fiction by an Arabic author, the Lebanese writer Nael Gharzeddine.
Jules Verne, a 19th-century French novelist known for his pioneering science fiction works (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon) is the prime representative of the French legacy of science fiction. French science fiction of the 19th century was also represented with such artists as Albert Robida and Isidore Grandville. In the 20th century, traditions of French science fiction were carried on by writers like Pierre Boulle (best known for his Planet of the Apes), Serge Brussolo, Bernard Werber, René Barjavel and Robert Merle, among others.
In Franco-Belgian comics, bande dessinée ("BD") science-fiction is a well established genre. Notable French science fiction comics include Valerian et Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, a space opera franchise that has lasted since 1967. Metal Hurlant magazine (known in US as Heavy Metal) was one of the largest contributors to francophone science-fiction comics. Its major authors include Jean "Moebius" Giraud, creator of Arzach; Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky, who created a series of comics, including L'Incal and Les Metabarons, set in Jodoverse; and Enki Bilal with The Nikopol Trilogy. Giraud also contributed to French SF animation, collaborating with René Laloux on several animated features. A number of artists from neighboring countries, such as Spain and Italy, create science fiction and fantasy comics in French aimed at a Franco-Belgian market.
In French cinema, science fiction began with silent film director and visual effects pioneer George Méliès, whose most famous film was Voyage to the Moon, loosely based on books by Verne and Wells. In the 20th and 21st centuries, French science fiction films were represented by René Laloux's animated features, as well as Enki Bilal's adaptation of the Nikopol Trilogy, Immortal. Luc Besson filmed The Fifth Element as a joint Franco-American production.
In the French-speaking world, the colloquial use of the term sci-fi is an accepted Anglicism for the term science fiction. This probably stems from the fact that science fiction writing never expanded there to the extent it did in the English-speaking world, particularly with the dominance of the United States. Nevertheless, France has made a tremendous contribution to science fiction in its seminal stages of development. Although the term "science fiction" is understood in France, their penchant for the "weird and wacky" has a long tradition and is sometimes called "le culte du merveilleux." This uniquely French tradition certainly encompasses what the anglophone world would call French science fiction but also ranges across fairies, Dadaism, and surrealism.
Italy has a vivid history in science fiction that is almost unknown outside its borders. Italian science fiction represents a varied road map of the genre, and grew in popularity after World War Two, and in particular in the second half of the 1950s, on the wave of American and British literature.
The earliest pioneers may be found in the literature of the fantastic voyage and of the Renaissance Utopia, even in previous masterpieces such as "The Million" of Marco Polo. In the second half of the 19th century stories and short novels of "scientific fantasies" (also known as "incredible stories" or "fantastic" or "adventuristic", "novels of the future times" or "utopic", "of the tomorrow") appeared in Sunday newspaper supplements, in literary magazines, and as booklets published in installments. Added to these, at the beginning of the 20th century, were the most futuristic masterpieces of the great Emilio Salgari, considered by most the father of Italian science fiction, and Yambo and Luigi Motta, well known authors of popular novels of the time, with extraordinary adventures in remote and exotic places, and even works of authors representing known figures of the "top" literature, among them Massimo Bontempelli, Luigi Capuana, Guido Gozzano, Ercole Luigi Morselli.
The birth of Italian science fiction may be in 1952, with the publishing of the first specialized magazines, Scienza Fantastica (Fantastic Science) and Urania, and with the appearance of the term fantascienza, which has become the usual translation of the English term "science fiction."
From the end of the 1950s science fiction became in Italy one of the most popular genres, though its popular success was not followed by critical success. In spite of an active and organized fandom there hasn't been an authentic sustained interest on the part of the Italian cultural élite towards science fiction.
Popular Italian science fiction writers include Gianluigi Zuddas, Giampietro Stocco, Lino Aldani, as well as comic artists, such as Milo Manara. Valerio Evangelisti is the best known modern author of Italian science fiction and fantasy. Also, popular Italian children's writer Gianni Rodari often turned to science fiction aimed at children, most notably, in Gip in the Television.
The main German science fiction writer in the 19th century was Kurd Laßwitz. According to Austrian SF critic Franz Rottensteiner, though significant German novels of a science-fiction nature were published in the first half of the 20th century, SF did not exist as a genre in the country until after World War II and the heavy importing and translation of American works. In the 20th century, during the years of divided Germany, both East and West spawned a number of successful writers. Top East German writers included Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller, as well as Günther Krupkat. West German authors included Carl Amery, Gudrun Pausewang, Wolfgang Jeschke and Frank Schätzing, among others. A well known science fiction book series in the German language is Perry Rhodan, which started in 1961. Having sold over two billion copies (in pulp, paperback and hardcover formats), it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written, worldwide. 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[when?] Austrian Herbert W. Franke.
In the 1920s Germany produced a number of critically acclaimed high-budget science fiction and horror films. Metropolis by director Fritz Lang is credited as one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. Other films of the era included Woman in the Moon, Alraune, Algol, Gold, Master of the World, among others. In the second half of the 20th century, East Germany also became a major science fiction film producer, often in a collaboration with fellow Eastern Bloc countries. Films of this era include Eolomea, First Spaceship on Venus and Hard to Be a God.
Russians made their first steps to science fiction in the mid-19th century, with utopias by Faddei Bulgarin and Vladimir Odoevsky. However, it was the Soviet era that became the genre's golden age. Soviet writers were prolific, despite limitations set up by state censorship. Early Soviet writers, such as Alexander Belayev, Alexey N. Tolstoy and Vladimir Obruchev, employed Vernian/Wellsian hard science fiction based on scientific predictions. The most notable books of the era include Belayev's Amphibian Man, The Air Seller and Professor Dowell's Head; Tolstoy's Aelita and Engineer Garin's Death Ray. Early Soviet science fiction was influenced by communist ideology and often featured a leftist agenda or anti-capitalist satire.  Those few early Soviet books that challenged the communist worldview and satirized the Soviets, such as Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopia We or Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog and Fatal Eggs, were banned from publishing until the 1980s, although they still circulated in fan-made copies.
In the second half of the 20th century, a new generation of writers developed a more complex approach. Social science fiction, concerned with philosophy, ethics, utopian and dystopian ideas, became the prevalent subgenre. The breakthrough was started by Ivan Yefremov's utopian novel Andromeda Nebula (1957). He was soon followed by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who explored darker themes and social satire in their Noon Universe novels, such as Hard to be a God (1964) and Prisoners of Power (1969), as well as in their science fantasy trilogy Monday Begins on Saturday (1964). A good share of Soviet science fiction was aimed at children. Probably the best known was Kir Bulychov, who created Alisa Selezneva (1965-2003), a children's space adventure series about a teenage girl from the future.
The Soviet film industry also contributed to the genre, starting from the 1924 film Aelita. Some of early Soviet films, namely Planet of the Storms (1962) and Battle Beyond the Sun (1959), were pirated, re-edited and released in the West under new titles. Late Soviet science fiction films include Mystery of the Third Planet (1981), Ivan Vasilyevich (1973), Teens in the Universe, Per Aspera Ad Astra and Kin-dza-dza! (1986), as well as Andrey Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, among others.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, science fiction in the former Soviet republics is still written mostly in Russian, which allows an appeal to a broader audience. Aside from Russians themselves, especially notable are Ukrainian writers, who have greatly contributed to science fiction and fantasy in Russian language. Among the most notable post-Soviet authors are H. L. Oldie, Sergey Lukyanenko, Alexander Zorich and Vadim Panov. Russia's film industry, however, has been less successful recently, producing only a few science fiction films, most of them are adaptations of books by the Strugatskys (The Inhabited Island, The Ugly Swans) or Bulychov (Alice's Birthday). It was not until 2010s that Russia started producing more science fiction films, such as Hardcore Henry and Attraction, the latter became the highest-grossing Russian movie of 2017. Science fiction magazines in Russia are represented by Mir Fantastiki and Esli.
Spanish science fiction starts mid 19th century; depending on how it is defined, Lunigrafía (1855) from M. Krotse or Una temporada en el más bello de los planetas from Tirso Aguimana de Veca — a trip to Saturn published in 1870-1871, but written in the 1840s — is the first science fiction novel. As such, science fiction was very popular in the second half of the 19th century, but mainly produced alternate history and post-apocalyptic futures, written by some of the most important authors of the generations of '98 and '14. The influence of Verne also produced some singular works, like Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau's El anacronópete (1887), a story about time travel that predates the publication of The Chronic Argonauts by H. G. Wells; Rafael Zamora y Pérez de Urría's Crímenes literarios (1906), that describes robots and a "brain machine" very similar to our modern laptops; or Frederich Pujulà i Vallès' Homes artificials (1912), the first in Spain about "artificial people". But the most prolific were Coronel Ignotus, and Coronel Sirius, who published their adventures in the magazine Biblioteca Novelesco-Científica. The 19th century up to the Spanish Civil War saw no less than four fictional trips to the Moon, one to Venus, five to Mars, one to Jupiter, and one to Saturn.
The Spanish Civil War devastated this rich literary landscape. With few exceptions, only the arrival of pulp science fiction in the 1950s would reintroduce the genre in Spanish literature. The space opera series La saga de los Aznar (1953-1958 and 1973-1978) by Pascual Enguídanos won the Hugo Award in 1978. Also in the 1950s started the radio serial for children Diego Valor; inspired by Dan Dare, the serial produced 1200 episodes of 15 minutes, and spawned a comic (1954-1964), three theater plays (1956-1959) and the first Spanish sf TV series (1958), that has been lost.
Modern, prospective, self-aware science fiction crystallized in the 1970s around the magazine Nueva Dimensión (1968-1983), and its editor Domingo Santos, one of the most important Spanish sf authors of the time. Other important authors of the 1970s and 1980s are Manuel de Pedrolo (Mecanoscrit del segon origen, 1974), Carlos Saiz Cidoncha (La caída del Imperio galáctico, 1978), Rafael Marín (Lágrimas de luz, 1984), and Juan Miguel Aguilera (the Akasa-Puspa saga, 1988-2005). In the 1990s the genre exploded with the creation many small dedicated fanzines, important SF prizes, and the convention HispaCon; Elia Barceló (El mundo de Yarek, 1992), became the most prolific. Other recent authors are Eduardo Vaquerizo (Danza de tinieblas, 2005), Félix J. Palma (The Victorian trilogy, 2008-2014), and Carlos Sisí (Panteón, 2013).
Spain has been continuously producing sf films since the 1960s, at a rate of five to ten per decade. The 1970s was specially prolific; the director, and screenwriter Juan Piquer Simón is the most important figure of fantaterror, producing some low budget sf films. La cabina (1972) is the most awarded Spanish TV production in history. In the 1990s Acción mutante (1992), by Álex de la Iglesia, and Abre los ojos (1997), by Alejandro Amenábar, represent a watershed in Spanish sf filming, with a quality that would only be reached again by Los cronocrímenes (2007), by Nacho Vigalondo. The most important sf TV series produced in Spain is El ministerio del tiempo (2015-), even though Mañana puede ser verdad (1964-1964) by Chicho Ibáñez Serrador, and Plutón BRB Nero (2008-2009), should also be mentioned.
Poland is a traditional producer of science fiction and fantasy. The country's most influential science fiction writer is Stanisław Lem, who is probably best known for his science fiction books, such as Solaris and the stories involving Ijon Tichy, but who also wrote very successful hard sci-fi such as The Invincible and the stories involving Pilot Pirx. A number of Lem's books were adapted for screen, both in Poland and abroad. Other notable Polish writers of the genre include Jerzy Żuławski, Janusz A. Zajdel, Konrad Fiałkowski, Jacek Dukaj and Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz.
Czech writer and playwright Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (1920) introduced the word robot into science fiction. Čapek is also known for his satirical science fiction novels and plays, such as War with the Newts and The Absolute at Large. Traditions of Czech science fiction were carried on despite the general political climate by writers like Ludvík Souček, Josef Nesvadba, Ondřej Neff and Jaroslav Velinský. In the years 1980 - 2000 a new vawe of young writers appeared (J. W. Procházka, F. Novotný, E. Hauserová, V. Kadlečková, J. Rečková, E. Dufková).
Early writers of Yugoslav science fiction were mid-19th century Slovene writer Simon Jenko, late 19th century Slovene writers Josip Stritar, Janez Trdina and Janez Mencinger (who, in 1893, published a notable dystopian novel Abadon) and late 19th century Serbian writers Dragutin Ilić and Lazar Komarčić. Since the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of authors incorporated science fiction elements into their work. Scientist Milutin Milanković wrote the book Through Distant Worlds and Times (1928), which mixes elements of autobiography, scientific discussion and science fiction. In the 1930s, Vladimir Bartol wrote a series of science fiction novels. The period after World War II brought the appearance of a large number of writers, most notably the duo Zvonimir Furtinger and Mladen Bjažić, Vid Pečjak and Miha Remec, with some academically acclaimed writers, like Dobrica Ćosić, Erih Koš and Ivan Ivanji, occasionally turning towards science fiction. Serbian writer Borislav Pekić published several science fiction works: Rabies (1983), 1999 (1984), The New Jerusalem (1988) and Atlantis (1988). Zoran Živković wrote a large number of essays on science fiction and one of the first encyclopedias of science fiction in the world. His early novels and stories featured elements of the genre. The films The Rat Savior (1977) by Krsto Papić and Visitors from the Galaxy (1981) by Dušan Vukotić won awards at international festivals. In the first half of the 20th century comic book authors such as Andrija Maurović and Đorđe Lobačev published a number of science fiction works, and since the 1980s comic book artists like Željko Pahek, Igor Kordej and Zoran Janjetov became internationally well known.
American David G. Hartwell noted there is "nothing essentially Australian about Australian science-fiction." A number of Australian science-fiction (and fantasy and horror) writers are in fact international English language writers, and their work is published worldwide. This is further explainable by the fact that the Australian inner market is small (with Australian population being around 24 million), and sales abroad are crucial to most Australian writers.
In Canadian Francophone province Québec, Élisabeth Vonarburg and other authors developed a tradition of French-Canadian SF, related to the European French literature. The Prix Boreal was established in 1979 to honor Canadian science fiction works in French. The Prix Aurora Awards (briefly preceded by the Casper Award) were founded in 1980 to recognize and promote the best works of Canadian science fiction in both French and English. Also, due to Canada's bilingualism and the US publishing almost exclusively in English, translation of science fiction prose into French thrives and runs nearly parallel upon a book's publishing in the original English. A sizeable market also exists within Québec for European-written Francophone science fiction literature.
Although there is still some controversy as to when science fiction began in Latin America, the earliest works date from the late 19th century. All published in 1875, O Doutor Benignus by the Portuguese Brazilian Augusto Emílio Zaluar, El Maravilloso Viaje del Sr. Nic-Nac by the Argentinian Eduardo Holmberg, and Historia de un Muerto by the Cuban Francisco Calcagno are three of the earliest novels in the region.Causo, Roberto de Sousa. "Balanço 2009: Primeiros romances de ficção científica". Terra Magazine. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
Up to the 1960s, science fiction was the work of isolated writers who did not identify themselves with the genre, but rather used its elements to criticize society, promote their own agendas or tap into the public's interest in pseudo-sciences. It received a boost of respectability after authors such as Horacio Quiroga and Jorge Luis Borges used its elements in their writings. This, in turn, led to the permanent emergence of science fiction in the 1960s and mid-1970s, notably in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Cuba. Magic realism enjoyed parallel growth in Latin America, with a strong regional emphasis on using the form to comment on social issues, similar to social science fiction and speculative fiction in the English world.
Economic turmoil and the suspicious eye of the dictatorial regimes in place reduced the genre's dynamism for the following decade. In the mid-1980s, it became increasingly popular once more. Although led by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, Latin America now hosts dedicated communities and writers with an increasing use of regional elements to set them apart from English-language science-fiction.
Earliest cite: P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction ... he called A Fall of Moondust "hard" science fiction
hard science fiction ... the term was first used by P. Schuyler Miller in 1957
Soft science fiction, probably a back-formation from Hard Science Fiction)
The series had lots of interesting devices that marveled us back in the 60s. In episode one, we see wife Jane doing exercises in front of a flatscreen television. In another episode, we see George Jetson reading the newspaper on a screen. Can anyone say computer? In another, Boss Spacely tells George to fix something called a "computer virus." Everyone on the show uses video chat, foreshadowing Skype and Face Time. There is a robot vacuum cleaner, foretelling the 2002 arrival of the iRobot Roomba vacuum. There was also a tanning bed used in an episode, a product that wasn't introduced to North America until 1979. And while flying space cars that have yet to land in our lives, the Jetsons show had moving sidewalks like we now have in airports, treadmills that didn't hit the consumer market until 1969, and they had a repairman who had a piece of technology called... Mac.
[Doctor Who] is as thrilling and as loved as Jolene, or bread and cheese, or honeysuckle, or Friday. It's quintessential to being British.
The Soviet Union has more professional science fiction writers than any country in the world except the United States and possibly Britain, and many of these writers are talented.
Украиноязычная фантастика переживает сейчас не лучшие дни. ... Если же говорить о фантастике, написанной гражданами Украины в целом, независимо от языка (в основном, естественно, на русском), — то здесь картина куда более радужная. В Украине сейчас работают более тридцати активно издающихся писателей-фантастов, у кого регулярно выходят книги (в основном, в России), кто пользуется заслуженной любовью читателей; многие из них являются лауреатами ряда престижных литературных премий, в том числе и международных.
Speculative fiction in Ukrainian is living through a hard time today... Speaking of fiction written by Ukrainian citizens, regardless of language (primarily Russian, of course), there's a brighter picture. More than 30 fantasy and science fiction writers are active here, their books are regularly published (in Russia, mostly), they enjoy the readers' love they deserve; many are recipients of prestigious literary awards, including international.
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