AD's English Literature : Science Fiction: A Brief History of It's Development

Science Fiction: A Brief History of It's Development

 
Introduction: Science Fiction is the current name for a class of prose narrative which assumes an imaginary technological or scientific progress, or depends upon an imaginary change in the human environment. Such narrative were first labeled “Science Friction” by the American magazine of the 1920’s, though the term previously used in Britain was ”Scientific Romance”, and many contemporary writers and critics preferred “Speculative Fiction”. Narrations of this kind are distinguished from other kind of fantastic narrative by the claim that they respect the limits of scientific possibility. It also referred to stories that appeared in cheap, so-called pulp magazines, but science fiction now appears in all media, including motion pictures, staged dramas, television programs, and video games, as well as short stories and book-length works.
The Early Times: Although elements of science fiction appear in many stories of imaginary voyages including in those of Lucian, the Greek writer of the second century, and swift’s Gulliver’s travels, it is only in the 19th century that the advancement of science began to inspire a good deal of work, in the vain. Science fictional themes play a significant part In the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a notable early example. In this tale Frankenstein, a student natural philosophy, unnatural strength, this creature looks horrible but is eager to be loved. Frankenstein ultimately agrees to make a mate for him, but later in a wave of remorse, destroy the female he has been constructing, the creature swears revenge on his creature, and kill Frankenstein’s bride on their wedding night. Frankenstein decided to destroy his creature and after a chase across the world, the two confront each other in the Arctic wastes. Frankenstein dies and the creature who mourns for his creator disappears into the wilderness. Bulwer – Lytton’s The Coming Race describes a visit to subterranean race of superior beings that live in the depth of the earth. They have developed a highly sophisticated civilization and the author points to their superiority to the present civilization on the surface.
The Later Times: Jules Verne the French novelist in the 19th century is one of the immortal in the realm of science fiction. Among his most successful tales are A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Round The Earth In Twenty Four Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, which recounts the advantages of Captain Nemo on the submarine Nautilus. Among the British by far the most ambitious as well as most successful author at the beginning of the 29th century was H.G. Wells. His first work, The Time Machine, is based on the invention of a machine which can travel through time, enabling him to examine the destiny of the human race. The Invisible Man is based upon a scientist who fatally stumbles upon the secret of invisibility. The War Of The Worlds is a powerful and apocalyptic vision of the world invaded by people from Mars. All resistance to them fails, but ultimately the horrible Martian’s armored weapons prove ineffective against the ravage of earthly bacteria which succeed where men’s best effort failed. Other novels of Wells include The First Men On The Moon and The Food The Gods.
Marry Shelley
Diversified Themes: Science fiction also sometimes presented a state of affairs when the entire traditional religious system seemed to have crumble away, to be replaced by a scientific perspective. The earth was a tiny atom in as infinity Universe, and man’s dominion but billions of years. One example is The Host World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in which the author evidently influenced by Darwin’s Origin Of Species described the discovery of a lost world of the pre-historic animals including the famous “missing link” which unites man with the animal. Jack London’s The Iron Heel gives a socialist vision of the historically inevitable demise of capitalism, and is in the form of a manuscript edited by a man who lives in the fourth century of the Brotherhood of Man.
Inherent Irony: Science fiction also led to negative or dystrophic views of the world’s present materialistic and scientific progress. Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World, written in this mode, describes the state of affairs in the year 632. After ford – that is, the twenty sixth century – in which the means of production are in state ownership. Biological engineering or “eugenics” fit different categories of workers – Alphas, Betas, Gammas etc – to their stations in life, and universal happiness is preserved by psychotropic drugs. The work provides a scathing criticism of the values implicit in the myth of social salvation through technological progress. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty - Four , written in 1958, describes England  as part of the super state Oceania in the year 1984. It is ruled to the party, and the party’s workers are constantly rewriting history or redesigning the language with aim of controlling men’s thought absolutely. One who even thinks against the state is guilty of thought – crimes and his spirit is broken and made to surrender to the state.
 Intellectual sophistication: Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein brought a measure of intellectual sophistication to science fiction while retaining  its  imaginative fertility and adventurousness. A professor of biochemistry at Boston, he wrote which at once dealt worth in the romance of source of science and explained basic scientific theories. Some of his science fiction stories are the most popular ever produced, specially those collected in the three volume Foundation series and the classic collection, I-robot which made famous the ‘ Three Laws Of Robotics’. Heinlein was the first writer to fit a number of stories together into a coherent future history, all of which are collected in The Past through Tomorrow. History features as ‘an alternate world’ in some of his novels. His understanding of technology and enthusiasm for the myth of the conquest of space made him an outstanding bestseller. It is noteworthy that both Asimov and Heinlein owe a debt to korel Capek, a Czech novelist and dramatist, who introduced, as early as in the 1920’s, such motifs as interplanetary travel, robots, mechanical brain, atomic weapon and destruction of the world as a result of its own technological achievement. His best known independent work was R.U.R a play set ‘on a remote island in 1950-60’ (the play was written in 1920). The title stands for ‘Rossum’s Universal Robot’s, and the concept of the mechanical ‘robot’ – a word coined from the Czech “robota” meaning drudgery – opened up a whole new vein of science fiction.
More on Modern Times: A new generation of post World War II writers – John Wyndham, Brian Aldiss and J.G.Ballard – retain a strong interest in the catastrophic tradition. In novels such as The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalides he focuses on the reactions of ordinary people to terrible circumstances which plunge them into a struggle for survival. These anxious fantasies are preoccupied with the difficulty of preserving the values of English decency in hostile conditions. Aldess, in novels like Non – Stop and Greybeard develops stock themes of science fiction in a thoughtful and stylish manner. There are fantasies of the far future, satires, antinovels and descriptions of the aftermath of a psycho-chemical war. Ballard is an avant  garde writer of science fiction, and his novels focus on the psychological adoptions made by his central characters to natural catastrophes the most famous being The Drowned World and The Drought.
The two most successful contemporary science fiction writers are the British Arthur Clark and the American J.R.R Tolkien. As a writer and popularize of science and as a writer of optimizer Clark has been an ardent champion of technological progress. His novels deal with space exploration hypothetical communications and are realist in treatment. These include Rendezvous with Rama and Imperial Earth. Later works like A Space Odyssey and Odyssey Two emphasize the visionary element in his work. Pessimistic, in contrast to Clarke, Tolkien is a fantasy writer menacing dragons who prey on the idealized rural communities in which the stories are set. In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Ring , an equally reluctant hobbit hero Frodo Baggins has to save the world from appalling evil.
Conclusion: Thus, the genre of science – fiction has developed and is continuing to develop in diverse directions. Indeed, the boundaries of the genre are now more difficult to outline than ever before, since many mainstream novelists like Thomas Pynchon and Gore Vidal have started using science fiction elements in their works.

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