Of all the genres in entertainment, science fiction is the one genre which I love the most. It just seems the most interesting and cool genre. I do like comedy and action, but science fiction appeals to me in many ways. So I want to know, why does it work so well? And why do I love it so much?
So, first of all, what is science fiction? Well, science fiction is a genre which uses science-based theories which are not confirmed by real science, such as aliens, time travel, spacecrafts and robots, to tell stories. These can be set in the real world or on alien planets or in pretty much anything.
So that’s a basic summary of what science fiction is. What famous examples are there? Well, for books, you have War of the Worlds and the Time Machine (both of which I know I need to read), and for films, well: Star Wars, ET, Star Trek and Jurassic Park just to name a few. And for television you have Doctor Who and Star Trek (again). All of these deal with science at their core,but are varied in their topics. There are two kinds of science fiction: hard sci-fi, which tries to be as accurate to science as possible, and soft sci-fi, which uses whatever they want to create a story. These will have aliens, spacecrafts, time travel and pretty much what ever they want, like most science fiction.
This leaves me to wonder – what makes so many people interested in science fiction? Maybe it’s the appeal of alien life and other worlds. If aliens are nice, great! But if they’re not… someone call the Doctor. But while there is no proof of aliens, the reason why they are often used for science fiction is because they COULD exist.
That’s why science fiction is so great. It uses things which could exist and makes them real. But hard science fiction also works. These stories use real science to try and explain things. There is no explanation as to how spaceships in Star Wars works, but if Yoda says…
… then the universe is more realistic. If science is used to explain something, even if it’s impossible, then the story turns into hard science fiction. In Doctor Who, an explanation is given about how the TARDIS works, but it’s still a time traveling police box. In a film like Jurassic Park, real science which actually exists is used to explain the plot, making it seem more realistic. Cloning is real, even if it’s proved unsuccessful.
But perhaps the real craft of why sci-fi works is that it poses questions and themes which can’t work in other genres. What if robots could think? Does that make them human? Is cloning dinosaurs a good thing? Is it messing with nature? Is changing the past worth it, just so people don’t need to die? Is it possible to change your future? Is it dangerous and is it messing with fate? These deep questions appear in science fiction and can’t work in other genres. Dramas may have deep emotions and complex characters, but they can’t talk about the pros and cons of time travel. This is the real greatness behind science fiction. It isn’t just spaceships and aliens blowing things up, but it’s about addressing ideas which could one day be real.
But… sometimes it IS just about spaceships and aliens blowing things up.