Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Discussion: Science Fiction/Dystopian Genre

Upon starting university, there was the inevitable question when getting to know people you don't know of the favourites, particularly favourite film. While some of my newly acquired flatmates mentioned The Notebook, The Dark Knight - some of the modern popular classics - I ended my answer with Back to the Future.

I'm a bit of a major fangirl when it comes to science fiction. I'm not entirely sure why. But I've always liked anything sci-fi or dystopian, be it books or films. It probably all stemmed from being forced to watch Doctor Who and Star Wars when I was younger by my dad, both of which I love now. As someone who loves books, cats and whose wardrobe consists of a mixture of jeans and floaty skirts and dresses trying to possess some kind of vintage style, it may be a little weird that I'm such a sci-fi geek.

I know many who dislike the science fiction genre, I've never been sure why. A friend of mine defined it as: 'Why would you look into the future and make disaster out of that when you can look into the present and sort out the more immediate problems of today?'
Which is a question that I totally understand. I like a lot of contemporaries for their immediacy and the fact I can sit there and shout 'yes I've experienced this too!'
But for me, a lot of literature is about challenging boundaries and adapting the meaning and values of literature, so by delving into the future and the things that could face us, doesn't the science fiction genre do just that?

I guess I like the whole question of 'WHAT IF?' that defines this genre.What if we had a time machine formed by a car? What if there was a world where society was separated into factions? What if there was a weather problem and we had a second Ice Age? What if aliens invaded and died because of our atmosphere? I certainly feel that some of the movies I've watched and books I've read would prepare me in some way for some of these scenarios.
The thing is there is something unpredictable about this genre which means you can't really work out what is going to happen eventually (debatable in some dystopian but whatever). Think about some of your favourite genres. In historical fiction, there is going to be some social or cultural element involved that is unique to that time. In contemporary romances, there is going to be a misunderstanding, the couple break apart but then come together again. But when it comes to science fiction, the world that is built and essential to the narrative also, means that the ending and the twists and turns along the way are entirely unpredictable because the world is so special to that book or movie. And that uniqueness and unexpectedness is what I love.

Let me know what you think about science fiction and dystopians. Do you like them and why? Do you not like them? What are some of the science fiction films/books you've seen/read? 


  1. I don't really get people who don't like sci-fi/fantasy! But like you i was raised on shows like Doctor Who and I just can't imagine not loving it. It's all about possibility, and I just love that so much. Great post!

  2. I would LOVE to hear more about your favourite scifi films/TV/books. I'm a pretty big scifi film fan and I (of course) like dystopian YA but I don't know where to start with other scifi YA books!

    1. I love Doctor Who, Primeval (when they still made them - it's like Doctor Who but with dinosaurs instead of aliens/monsters).
      Film wise, I love Back to the Future like I mentioned, The Day After Tomorrow, War of the Worlds, Inception, Star Wars, The Adjustment Bureau to name a few off the top of my head.
      I haven't actually found many sci-fi books. I did a unit about adaptations at university last term and it kind of came apparent that dystopian is an off-shoot of sci-fi so I guess that is still under the whole sci-fi genre.
      I love Divergent (a lot), The 5th Wave, the Legend series, The Declaration series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Night Circus (amazing!). One different book I read recently was Genesis by Bernard Beckett which is kind of raises a lot of questions about evolution and our attitude towards one another - definitely recommend it if you want a sci-fi book that's a bit different...


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