Science-fiction is a hardcore genre with hardcore fans and a hardcore history of making intense societal changes.
Being the child of a Trekkie, I’ve long-since heard about how Star Trek impacted culture like a 10-ton meteor by first featuring a black actress who wasn’t cast as a maid – something virtually unheard of in 1966 – as well as the first interracial TV kiss.
Back then, the smooch that Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura shared was downright groundbreaking.
Ooh la la!
There’s also the plethora of gadgets we now take for granted which, in many ways, were first featured on Star Trek… cellphones (communicators), talking computers, space exploration going further and further and further beyond our own minuscule little planet.
How much did this science-fiction series inspire future thinkers and innovators exactly? Well, I don’t have the Star Trek-specific numbers in front of me, but how about these science-fiction novel facts according to Gizmodo:
In the 1920s, there was a series called Tom Swift about a teenaged homeschooler. Widely read, it apparently influenced a whole list of figures to seek out new scientific possibilities, including biochemist and prolific writer Isaac Asimov, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The same goes for the guy who invented the Taser.
The War of the Worlds novella captured Robert H. Goddard’s attention and imagination so much that he went on to help bring the first liquid-fueled rocket into existence.
While Frankenstein was a warning against playing God, it actually got a lot of people thinking about the best way to do exactly that, hopefully without unleashing hell on Earth.
Clearly then, science-fiction writers can set both amazing and dangerous paths in motion – far more than mere captivating characters, prodigious plots and literally stellar settings for readers to explore. That’s probably because of the exact definition of the genre:
Aliens, time travel, alternate realities: These are just some of the topics that science-fiction, or sci-fi, covers.
Essentially, if your lengthy story or story-in-the-making revolves around some scientific possibility that has not yet been proven, you’re writing a sci-fi novel.
Science-fiction can be serious, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; adventurous, such as Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift; or humorous such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
For anyone who read the horror fiction Definition a few weeks ago, yes, Frankenstein can fall into both the science-fiction genre and the horror fiction category since it’s dealing with futuristic science-based possibilities that just so happen to have a whole lot of nasty ramifications.
But I’ll let someone else fight over which genre can claim it best. Since I’m neither a sci-fi writer (yet) nor a horror fiction writer, I don’t have any skin in this game.
I don’t, however, need any deeply personal or professional connection to science-fiction to be able to claim that no matter what the tone of the story is or whether it’s meant to make you gasp or giggle, it’s probably intended to achieve something bigger than a bunch of five-star reviews.
Science-fiction writers are Earth-movers and society-shakers, with a whole lot of groundbreaking greats to look up to in their hardcore history... and a no-doubt fascinating future still to come.