Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, parallel universes, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". Science Fiction has often been used by authors and film/television program makers as a device to explore more wide ranging philosophical subjects such as identity, desire, morality and social structure etc.
Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is similar to, but differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).
The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader's mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:
- A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.
- A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g., spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.
- Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots.
- Technology that is futuristic (e.g., ray guns, teleportation machines, humanoid computers).
- Scientific principles that are new or that contradict known laws of nature, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel.
- New and different political or social systems (e.g. dystopia, post-scarcity, or a post-apocalyptic situation where organized society has collapsed).
- Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation.
- Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.
Famous quotes containing the words science and/or fiction:
“For us necessity is not as of old an image without us, with whom we can do warfare; it is a magic web woven through and through us, like that magnetic system of which modern science speaks, penetrating us with a network subtler than our subtlest nerves, yet bearing in it the central forces of the world.”
—Walter Pater (18391894)
“A reader who quarrels with postulates, who dislikes Hamlet because he does not believe that there are ghosts or that people speak in pentameters, clearly has no business in literature. He cannot distinguish fiction from fact, and belongs in the same category as the people who send cheques to radio stations for the relief of suffering heroines in soap operas.”
—Northrop Frye (b. 1912)