A Brief History of Science Fiction

It can be complicated to define a genre as wide and broad as Science Fiction being that we have more than six-thousand years of literary history with almost all of it dealing with fantastic elements. Science Fiction is widely thought to have branched from the Fantasy genre. In early history, literature focused on gods and beings with godlike powers, this is evident in popular literature like Homer’s Odyssey and the Iliad, written in this time. However, during the 17th through 19th centuries literature changed for the average reader in both Europe and America.

As the stability of life increased, we begin to see mainstream literature focus on daily life. This leads to the eventual publishing of Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley who is considered the grandmother of Science Fiction. In addition to Mary Shelley, other authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells played vital roles in the development and popularization of Science Fiction literature.

Science and technology became a point of interest, with Science Fiction themes such as the use of technology for achievements beyond the scope of science at the time becoming a recurring element in modern Science Fiction. One of my favorite science fiction books, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, captures these same elements. Card’s Ender’s Game tells the story of young children whisked away to a military school for gifted minds where, humanity hopes they’ll be able to transform one of them into the military genius the world needs to save them from an impending alien invasion. The theme and elements contained in this book makes it a model example of Science Fiction.

The Science Fiction we see today developed and boomed in the 20th and 21st century. This occurred as a direct result of the prevalence of scientific innovation and inventions during this period, which in turn, created an interest in literature that explored technology’s influence on people and society. Today, Science Fiction has a significant influence on the world’s culture as well as thought.

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