Whither science fiction – another take on the subject

I was taking the long view of science fiction over the centuries (yes, I know I do crazy things like this from time to time) and decided to do some doodling to see if I could see a pattern or categorise my thoughts. The result is the diagram below (please excuse my imperfections in the diagram – this was not done on any super-app). Remember this is science fiction we are talking about here – not fantasy of pseudo-fantasy such as cheap faster-than-light travel or time travel or steampunk or etc etc etc


As you can see I’ve put the oldest themes in the centre (up to c. 1900) in the blue circle. Think of the Jason and the Argonauts, Jules Verne’s novels for the journeys. Think of Frankenstein, some of H G Well’s novels before 1900. Last century (again roughly speaking) in the green ring. I’ll leave you to sort your favourite novels into which ever quadrant. There’s more than plenty to choose form. Yes there are novels that mix and match the themes, but they are not as frequent as you might first suppose.

The outermost yellow ring is for the here and now and into the future. Strangely enough I was rather stuck about what to put in it.

Yes I have some ideas from novels and short stories I’ve read, but to date they are all variations or slight extensions to one or more of the themes in the picture. So does anyone have any ideas what to put in the yellow circle?


10 thoughts on “Whither science fiction – another take on the subject

  1. Having thought about this for a long time I will give you my thoughts.

    First, as far as I am concerned SF has the responsibility to lead the way, even in social outlook. At the moment it is not doing that.

    Next, your diagram which well states the history of SF. In the centre we have SF looking forward to a bright future which is carried on in the upper quadrants (which is mainly early 1900 – 1960 SF).

    The lower quadrants show the beginning of the rot in the lower left with its completion in the lower right.

    At the moment SF is more about doom and gloom than anything else. It is almost as if authors are afraid to look up and out. Maybe it is because they are influenced by the ‘we are all doomed’ mantra that is the mantra of the CAGW church. I call it a church because it has all the aspects of a religion.

    Your outer ring for 2000 onwards should remain as it is, blank, until SF authors get over the ‘follow the herd’ problem and get back to writing forward looking stories. When that will happen is anyone’s guess especially since most of the publishers are based in the US and are very PC in their outlook.

    1. Many thanks for your thoughts on this subject, Ivan. It’s interesting that you added the dates in. I didn’t realise I had been ‘so artistically aligned’ in my diagram.

      Please see my reply to both you and Justine below.

  2. It’s a shame time travel doesn’t get a look in. It does have some scientific theory behind it despite us not having the technology to achieve it…yet. Not sure it warrants being lumped in with FTL and steampunk. Hey, I like your diagram by the way. Ivan’s correct, it’s all getting a bit bleak. Dystopia is one of my least favourite themes 🙂

  3. Hello Justine,

    Many thanks for your thoughts… in one sense you could be right about time travel in that we are allowed to travel forwards in time, but not backwards. I have yet to find a published story that deals with just forward time travel.

    Please see reply to both you and ivan for further thoughts on this subject…

    1. Hi Rosie. Sorry – been away communing with my muse! Good point about forward vs backwards. When I wrote Chronovisor, I did lots of reading on the subject and I remember one theory was that forwards was only more likely, not discarding backwards. I’ll go and find my notes!

      1. Just for reference, my notes were that forward time travel is possibly supported by laws of physics (time dilation), but backwards maybe not. Backwards time travel would likely result in parallel universes. This was what I used for Chronovisor. My best get out is science is undecided yet due to lack of unified theory.Until then, I’m ok!

      2. Sounds like chronovisor is a possible real world so to speak. Whoopee! Congrats on getting in through the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award! Fingers crossed it’ll progress further.

  4. Hello Ivan and Justine,

    Apologies for not replying sooner, but I went into deep thought mode …

    I know Justine is on Facebook. Is Ivan also on Facebook? I’d like to take this discussion away from my blog and continue it out of public view with both of you if I may…

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