Science Fiction

The term “science fiction” denotes a genre of imaginative literature distinguished from realism by its speculation about things that cannot happen in the world as we know it, and from fantasy by abjuring the use of magic or supernatural. In science fiction, all phenomena and events described are theoretically possible under the laws of physics, even though they may not at present be achievable. Stated in this way, it would appear that works belonging to the genre would be easily identifiable. However, critics of science fiction have struggled to find an adequate definition almost since the term was coined and applied to a certain kind of fiction, supplanting an earlier, even less satisfactory term, “scientific romance,” which had been applied to some nineteenth-century British works as well as to the novels of Jules Verne. As Paul Kincaid (2005) has said, “The critical test for any definition is that it includes …

This essay may be found on page 202 of the printed volume.

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