09 April, 2012
A to Z Challenge: H is for the History of Science Fiction
Science fiction is amazing. From aliens to spaceships to other worlds to imaginative technologies, it has pulled many people into its wide fold. But where did it get its start?
The history of the science fiction genre as a literary form isn't easily defined. Both scholars and fans still argue on when it made its first appearance.
Many die-hard fans place the genre's origins with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, since it was the first novel of its kind. Some point to ancient texts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh (earliest version: around 2150-2000 B.C.), as the first instance of science fiction. Others refute this, saying that science fiction could only be possible from the Scientific Revolution onward. This would have been when Galileo and Newton were making their discoveries in astronomy, physics, and mathematics - the building blocks of science fiction.
To add further fuel to the fire of discussion, the word "scientist" only first appeared in 1840. The first use of "science fiction" soon followed in 1851 in William Wilson's A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject. Quoted from the book, he says: "Science-Fiction, in which the revealed truths of Science may be given interwoven with a pleasing story which may itself be poetical and true."
Science fiction boomed in the 20th century, as new inventions and science led authors to explore the impact of those things on society. This has caused some to suggest that "real" science fiction only came into being with Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and others of their ilk.
The point is, there's little to no agreement on the exact origin of science fiction history. We don't know. And there's a lot of brain power being expended trying to figure it out.
I guess the real question to ask is: when do you think it started?
Or you could just watch this cool video on the genre. It requires no brain power.