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White 1 Zachary White Jessie Carty English 1101 4 December 2013 Yesterdays Tomorrow, Today: The History and

Impact of Science Fiction

Space travel, robots, alien beings, and time travel. These are some of the few things that come to mind when someone brings up the science fiction genre. Although writers have fantasized in their fiction for centuries, ideas such as these are as relatively recent for the most part. There are, however, many themes attributed to the sci-fi genre that appear in works that date back to the 2nd Century, and as the the genre has evolved considerably, so has its impact on society. Although Modern science fiction can be dated back to the mid-19th Century with authors such as Jules Verne and HG Wells, they are several works that contain some of the same ideas as modern sci-fi novels that date back to as early as the 2nd century (Britannica). It is material such as this that the professionals refer to as proto sci-fi. In Syria, authors used daft ideas such as sailing to the moon to satirize the government. Later in the 1700s, Jonathan Swift publishes Gullivers Travels, another platform for satire. Up until the mid-1800s, popular sci-fi imagery by todays standards was simply used to bypass strict government censorship and to disperse ideology to the country (Britannica). Not until Jules Verne, whom many consider the first true science fiction writer and the founder of the genre, was it cemented in its own right.

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Spawned by the industrial revolution, sci-fi was created when authors began to look into the future and the impact all this new found technology would have on the world. Written in 1863, Vernes first novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century, described 1960s Paris with remarkable accuracy. There were automobiles, elevated trains, automated banking machines, and paper copiers (Britannica). Although these things seem mundane and routine to us today, it is a perfect example of how the genre has evolved in content since its conception. A huge breeding ground for science fiction works in the late 19th and early 20th century could be easily found in Great Britain. Many of todays most classic pieces bore British markings, including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the bulk of HG Wells most famous stories such as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds (Britannica). Although it was no longer used exclusively to satirize society, many authors still wrote towards that effect. During and after the Industrial Revolution, there were many who longed for the simpler life before, and author William Morris was one of those people. In his book News from Nowhere, Morris envisioned a great pastoral utopia in the 21st century, with ideals and values of a 14th century civilization (Britannica). He was perhaps one of the first to do so, but certainly not the last. Authors such as C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia and JRR Tolkien in her very popular Lord of the Rings series both draw from similar settings, sparking the beginning of the fantasy genre. Beginning in the 1920s, the Golden Age of Science Fiction saw a dramatic rise in the genres popularity, particularly in the US. Dues to efforts of one Hugo Gernbacks, for which the Hugo Award is named, and his publishment Amazing Stories, the Science Fiction League was

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founded in 1934. A wave of popularity swept many young peoples across North America, and literary groups devoted to the genre began to pop up everywhere, like the New York Futurians, the Milwaukee Fictioneers, and the L.A. Sci-Fi League, all principally argue over sci-fi ideology (Britannica). As it becomes apparent that society has had a significant impact on science fiction, it is also critical to also look at science fictions impact on society. Over the years, sci-fi has brought to light many issues in our culture, the inevitable outcomes of these issues, and the success that can be found once these issues are solved. For example, in a time of racial tension in the U.S, one of the most popular franchises, Star Trek, showed an extremely diverse crew, from not only all over the earth but the galaxy, conquering immense challenge and bettering humanity in the process (Humanities360). On the technology front, fiction has preceded some of our largest advancements. Star trek had communicators before we had cell phones. Sci-Fi writers envisioned laptops and GPS before any kind of desktop were in the hands of the public. Even in the doctors office, the creations of science fiction lay in wait. Medical scanners that are now used on a day to day basis were once restricted to the decks of mystical spaceships floating through the stars (Humanities360). Although you could look at it as coincidence that many an author wrote technology into their masterpieces, some almost a century ahead of their time, I choose to think otherwise. I believe it was the collection of dreamers behind the farfetched universes that compose the sci-fi genre that inspired greatness in us. It is inour nature as a species to constantly progress, and

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because of the images ingrained in our imaginations of what someday could be, we never stop trying to make fiction into science.

Works Cited Ray, Charles. "How Science Fiction Has Influenced Modern Society." Humanities 360. RR Donnelly, 23 Dec. 2009. Web. Autumn 2013. Sterling, Bruce. "Science Fiction." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. Autumn 2013.