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In literature, science fiction is one of the few genres that have managed to retain their relevance even with the advent of new and perceivably better genres. A common definition is that science fiction is “a genre of fiction where the stories are about futuristic science and technologies” (Scholes 6).
It falls under fiction because most of the contents such as aliens, futuristic space travel, and paranormal events are imaginary (Scholes 6). Science fiction has found its place among the ‘great’ literatures of the word and hence a contribution in the field of literature.
Some of the most sales in literature are in the genre of science fiction with fans all over the world (Scholes 6). This essay looks at the genre by using two examples of texts to portray some of its characteristics.
Purpose of Science fiction and its use in Colleges
Traditionally, science fiction has mainly been read for leisure due to its enjoyable nature by a particular age group of people (Roberts 11). The use of science fiction has therefore been to provide entertainment for the readers. In colleges, science fiction has an application in the teaching of literature and English classes (Roberts 13).
The value in teaching is as a result of its enjoyable nature where unmotivated learners and reluctant readers find this method of learning easy to use (Roberts 9).Colleges also use this genre of literature to sharpen the literary skills of the students.
This genre of literature was successful in the past with some of the works receiving major awards. The authors who write in mainstream literature have also ventured in this genre thus symbolizing its importance and position alongside the other great genres of literature (Scholes 6).
The two texts to be discussed in relation to science fiction are Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed by Ray Bradbury, and Nightfall by Isaac Asimov. The two fit in the genre because of their utilization of scientific theories and fictional ideas.
In Ray Bradbury’s story, the earth is engaged in an atomic war. One of the families sets off for mars where other humans are said to be living (179). The main character is said to be attempting to build a rocket with human beings easily traveling to and from mars (190).
In the second story, a fictional planet with light throughout is described (Asimov 11). These and other scientific theories in the stories are some of the reasons why they fit into the genre.
The stories add to the body of knowledge in science fiction, as they propose some new theories. In Ray Bradbury’s story, it is the existence of a virus on planet mars (186) while it is the new planet and stars in Asimov’s story with a planet that never experiences night (13).
Science and technology are a significant component of Bradbury’s story. It is through it that the planet earth and all its inhabitants are partially destroyed with just few survivors (185). The technology in the setting of the story is so advance that a common man like the character and the friends are able to build their own rocket (189).
The persona of the scientist is engaged in both of the stories as it is characteristic of fictional stories. In Asimov’s Nightfall, the character, Mr. Bittering explores the building of a rocket to take him and his family back to planet earth even though a mention of his scientific capabilities is not made (179).
Some of the scientists in the Nightfall include Sheerin 501 and Siferra 89 both of whom make great discoveries in their respective fields about their fictional planet (33).
Gender and sexual roles in the context of science fiction are well represented. In Bradbury’s story of the family members, Mr. Bittering is the only one concerned with the changes in events in their new planet (Roberts 15). The male sex is therefore depicted as being stronger and wiser as it is in most of the fiction stories (Margot 153).
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Race is presented in the same story as constituting the Martians and the earth people. The Martians are depicted as being evil to the humans’ coming after Mr. Bittering’s family (194)
Technology and religion are combined in the Nightfall with a cult said to confirm the likely events in the planet Lagash (40). According to them, the planet would experience darkness after a predicted period of years. The scientists came up with the same theory, which was later confirmed (40).
The concept of humanness is well explored in the story by Bradbury. In fact, human beings are portrayed as a superior race (187). They view other beings as a threat to them even when they happen to be friendly. The view is consistent with most of the works in science fiction (Roberts 17).
The existing and actual scientific theories of the existence of life forms on mars and some form of harsh conditions here, which would not favor human survival, are alluded to in the story (189). Scientists believe in a form of life that is not known to the planet earth within the atmosphere and environment of mars, which may affect human beings (Margot 157).
The two stories are part of larger themes with Bradbury’s story alluding to the end of the planet earth and global atomic war. The notion of utopia is presented in the story by Bradbury where the character believes that planet earth is their rightful home without some of the changes that his family was going through (186).
Dystopia is presented in Asimov’s story where the planet in which the characters were living would experience darkness and virtually turn into a dystopia (32).
The two stories also present an interaction between science and society with science contributing significantly to behaviors, events, and decision-making in the societies in the stories. In Bradbury’s fictional story, it is because of science that man has been able to destroy his world while at the same time colonizing a different one (185).
Asimov’s story on the other hand presents a positive interaction of science and society where scientific knowledge helps in the prediction of a major event in the fictional planet (Roberts 24). The negative and positive interactions of science and society as depicted in most science fiction works (Roberts 26) are therefore highlighted in the texts.
In conclusion, science fiction is an important genre in literature that has found its place among the other great genres. Its main use is leisure as utilized in learning institutions where students can learn literature and English besides having fun at the same time. Two examples of texts in this genre have been discussed alongside their contribution to the genre.
Asimov, Isaac. Nightfall: and other stories. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969. Print.
Bradbury, Ray. S is for space. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966. Print.
Margot, Jean-Michel. “Jules Verne, Playwright.” Science Fiction Studies 32.1(2005): 150-62. Print.
Roberts, Adam. Science fiction. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Scholes, Robert, and Eric Rabkin. Science fiction: history, science, vision. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Print.