Science Fiction Themes

Out of sheer interest I did a quick bar chart of the themes that Daily Science Fiction are publishing (as they kindly put their numbers up on their website).

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To me this kind of backs up what I’ve been saying about science fiction themes in previous posts. Future Societies is second and is to me the main home of progressive science fiction i.e. trying to comment on what the future might be like.

The first is aliens. But that strangely also fits into the progressive science fiction mould in that aliens are mainly variations of humans. The writer is trying to work out how a slightly different human would fit into a normal human society.

The third is computers and robots. Well we are kind of getting to live with them now. They will develop in the future and in a sense the computers and robots could be a significant subset of Future Societies.

Space Travel, Other Worlds Time Travel and Disaster appear about halfway, while Superhero is towards the tail end. Whilst these themes are good entertainment, they are not progressive science fiction. Altogether these numbers back up my view that they are not the top themes that interest readers.

So I’m puzzled as to why we are not seeing more of progressive science fiction themes being published in the novels.

Any ideas?

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4 thoughts on “Science Fiction Themes

  1. Science fiction as a field has become about as complex as science itself. I try to keep up with at least some of the new developments, but it’s like the metaphorical task of drinking from a fire hose. You can only read so much in a day, or a year, and if you want to get any writing done (or have a life!) you’ve got to fit it in somehow!

    If “future societies” is the most prominent progressive theme, permit me to mention a book, mostly forgotten, that may be one of the classics of that genre: The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells. I’m not sure if I’d actually call it “fiction”‘; it might be more in the nature of a political tract, and yet it does so much more than that. Wells manages to lay out, in more or less logical order, the steps from the society of the early 1930s to the early 22nd Century. Agree or disagree with what he writes as you wish; the debate over it may be the point anyway.

    Reading the book is interesting from another perspective: providing a benchmark for future speculative fiction. Wells looked more at individual and social psychology in writing this book; humanity was his subject, with “science” one part of the struggle. If we speak of future societies, what does that mean for our daily life? To what end do we struggle?

    Just some thoughts.

    1. Hello Tom,
      The boundaries between sub-genres have certainly been blurring and now there are stories that mix several sub-genres all at once.
      Unfortunately I have not read that particular story of H G Wells, though I’ve read the classics – The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. However, it is fair to say that the course to World War II was set in stone by the 1919 Versailles agreement – you only need to read Vera Brittain’s Testament to Friendship where she and Winifrid Holtby visit Germany post World War 1 to see that.

      H G Wells did get a lot of things right though, and in many ways I wish there were more writers in this day and age who aspired to what he succeeded in.

  2. I have to say that personally I write “future societies” because it appeals to me most. I’ve been reading them for years and it’s by far my favourite–it’s interesting to see where we’re headed, no?
    And through this we see things that have begun in the realm of science fiction that begin to actually exist, ideas and designs that are imagined that may actually come to pass-most of the medical and scientific technological advancements would seem like magic to people from little more than a century ago!
    It also gives us hope for the future. Imagine a brighter world, or series of worlds, and maybe it may come to pass.
    ~Stellar Writing.

    1. Hello Richard,
      Welcome to my blog.
      Good luck with your writing. And totally agree with you about science fiction influencing science. In fact during the eighties Star Trek was MANDATORY viewing for the whole board of directors of a big local engineering firm with a view to looking for ideas that they could develop!

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