Definition of Science Fiction
Science fiction is one of the fiction genres that demonstrates different scientific facts, discoveries, innovations, inventions, or other strange and scientific evolutions. The stories or novels falling under this category often show technological advances, environmental issues, and space or time travels. Science fiction is also called sci-fi in its abbreviated form. It often depends on science in moving its storyline further.
Elements of Science Fiction
Every sci-fi story has some elements that are an integral part of it or it may not be categorized as such. For example, it shows a plot involving scientific theory, concept, idea, or an invention. Its characters are of scientific minds, or they are involved in scientific issues in one or the other way.
Some Categories of Science Fiction
- Teleportation in Storyline
- Time Travel and Time Machine
- Mind Control and Mental Games
- Alien Stories and Interplanetary Warfare
- Parallel Universe
Examples of Science Fiction in Literature
Example # 1
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
The name of Lidenbrock was therefore mentioned with respect in colleges and learned societies. Humphry Davy, Humboldt, and Captains Franklin and Sabine never failed to call on him on their way through Hamburg. Becquerel, Ebelman, Brewster, Dumas, Milne-Edwards, Saint-Claire Deville1 consulted him about the most difficult problems in chemistry. This discipline was indebted to him for quite remarkable discoveries, and in 1853 A Treaty of Transcendental Crystallography by Professor Otto Lidenbrock had appeared in Leipzig, a large folio with illustrations which, however, did not cover its expenses.
Although this is a short passage from the popular novel of Jules Verne which is now a textbook across the globe, it shows the places, characters, and events showing the use of science in the storyline. For example, Humphry Davy, Humboldt, Captains Frankline, and Sabine are all involved in scientific experiments related to chemistry. The appearance of Professor Otto shows that this story is about something not discovered or done before.
Example # 2
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the earth—above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense eyes—were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous.
This passage occurs in the famous novel of H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds. The very mention of Martian, V-shaped, and the Gorgon groups show the use of scientific method, inquiry, and discovery in the storyline.
Example # 3
Lenina got out of the bath, toweled herself dry, took hold of a long flexible tube plugged into the wall, presented the nozzle to her breast, as though she meant to commit suicide, pressed down the trigger. A blast of warmed air dusted her with the finest talcum powder. Eight different scents and eau-de-Cologne were laid on in little taps over the wash-basin. She turned on the third from the left, dabbed herself with chypre and, carrying her shoes and stockings in her hand, went out to see if one of the vibro-vacuum machines were free.
The activities done by Lenina in this passage shows several things or actions that involve something unusual but scientific. For example, the nozzles of her breasts and pressing the trigger show that there is something strange in it. This is part of science fiction. That is why brave new world has been termed a classic in science fiction.
Example # 4
The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.
This passage occurs in 1984 by George Orwell written around 70 years back. It tells the story of different worlds and different people having strong surveillance system. The last slogan “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” has proved true after the arrival of internet.
Functions of Science Fiction
Although science fiction seems boring, out of place, and out of context to some people, it, nevertheless, excites the imaginations of the readers and audiences alike. People like sci-fi fiction and movies alike. This shows that human imaginations are always fertile and want a change come what may. It is also that science fiction has proved a harbinger of scientific discoveries. Several things now seem usual in the world were once in the realm of mystery but the novelists and story writers presented them in their stories after which scientific minds worked on them and brought them to realities. Therefore, science fiction is not just a waste of time. They are rather a way to find new things to cope with the emerging realities.