The Origin and history of Science Fiction LiteraturePosted by The Librarian on Dec 10, 2011 in Literature | 223 comments
Although when discussing science fiction it is easy for the mind to wonder straight to scenes of alien invasions, mad scientists and evil robots, there is a lot more to this universally loved genre than space travel and futuristic technologies. Indeed, the success of any piece of great science fiction writing is the ability to explore different existences and worlds in such a rational way that the reader is able to easily suspend their disbelief.
The settings for such works of fiction often differ at least slightly from the reality we know. However, such novels usually still contain elements that are at least theoretically possible within scientifically established laws of nature.
Origins of Science Fiction as a Genre
Although it was once argued by many literary historians that the origins of science fiction as a genre could be found in mythological works of the Greeks and Egyptians, it is more widely accepted that these writings fall more into the “fantasy” genre. With this in mind, it is the belief of many contemporary historians that Lucian’s True History is the earliest example of the science fiction genre. Written during the 2nd century, the True History is the first recorded work of fiction that explores space travel.
Science Fiction as a popular Genre of Fiction
As a popular genre of literary fiction, science fiction didn’t really come to the fore until the 17th and 18th century, when works such as Voltaire’s Micromegas and Johannes Kepler’s Somium were published. It is no coincidence that these works were published during a time when the development of modern science really began to gather momentum. However, it was in the 19th century when the genre really made a name for itself, with authors such as Mary Shelly (Frankenstein) and Edgar Allen Poe combining the then popular “gothic fiction” with the science motifs. It was also in the 19th century that H.G Wells’ masterpiece The War of the Worlds was first published.
Science Fiction in the 20th century
When movies became a popular form of art, science fiction as a genre was made accessible to the main stream. With movie goers loving films set in the future or even in space, many notable authors picked up on the trend and science fiction became one of the most popular genres of fiction all across the world.
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