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Science Fiction Buff

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Science fiction is a type of storytelling. The stories are based on scientific principles. They are also fictional, meaning they are just stories. Sci-fi stories can come in the form of short stories or novels, film and television.

Some people call it "fiction of possibilities." In other words, it is stories about what could happen. Others call it the "fiction of the future." Fans of this type of story say it's lots of fun and really helps their imaginations grow!

"Science fiction is any kind of fiction that has some kind of futuristic theme, often assuming future events and making up machines and creatures," says Lynn Gold. She's a sci-fi fan from San Francisco.

Many of the writers of sci-fi have scientific backgrounds. This helps them write stories that are believable!

The most common topics are alien life, space exploration and changes in human society.

There are two major categories of science fiction. The most popular form is known as soft science fiction. Soft sci-fi writers predict changes in our world based on existing scientific knowledge and their imagination. In other words, their predictions don't necessarily have to be possible, just believable.

"Even in soft science fiction the science has to make sense," says Gold. "If the science involves blatant disregard for the laws of physics, it's not really sci-fi. A good book involving computer technology will not 'predict' things that were obsolete several years ago."

The second type of sci-fi is called hard science fiction. It uses scientific theory to create stories about the future. If it's not based on "hard science," it's not hard science fiction.

"Hard sci-fi has the added benefit that if the science is good, you learn science from the fiction," says Jim Glass, a science fiction buff from Chatsworth, California.

So it turns out that this fun hobby is also educational, says Thomas Glenn of Calgary. He believes science fiction is popular for two very different reasons. "It either presents a reality that is so much better than our own that we want to stay there, or it shows a future so grim and black that we return to our own reality with a sense of relief."

You don't have to want an educational hobby to get into sci-fi. Gold believes science fiction is enjoyable simply because people like to exercise their imaginations.

"It stretches the mind and makes people think about possibilities and society in a way that regular fiction cannot," says Gold.

Next to romance, science fiction is the most popular genre of writing today. This statistic comes as no surprise to science fiction fans -- they say sci-fi is perfectly suited to life in the '90s.

"People into SF tend to embrace technology and look forward to the future, which are exactly the kind of qualities one needs to succeed in an information economy," says Gold.

In fact, many sci-fi fans make a living from their interest in science fiction. Some choose careers directly linked with sci-fi by writing novels, short stories or scripts, or by working in the science fiction movie or television industry.

Other people choose a career path inspired by their interest in science fiction. Jim Glass is one of those people. He's a rocket propulsion engineer who credits his career in space exploration to his interest in science fiction.

"Sci-fi piqued my curiosity in space exploration. Many members of the aerospace industry were inspired by science fiction," says Glass.

Getting Started

So you're ready to join the world of possibilities? Members of this sci-fi world say the best way to jump in is through reading.

Reading sci-fi is easy and inexpensive. The only cost is books, and most classics can be found on the Internet or at your public library. As well, there are many used bookstores specializing in sci-fi with books. Reading sci-fi is a great way to find travel and adventure -- and the only muscle you need to flex is your mind!

"There are some great science fiction movies and television shows out there, but novels are the staple of any true sci-fi fan's diet," says Lynn Gold.

Science fiction is a pretty big genre, so experts suggest starting off with the "meat and potatoes" of sci-fi -- the classics. Here are some must-reads:

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (Tor Books)
  • The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Co.)
  • The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (Bantam Books)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (Putnam Publishing Group)

Although novels may be the staple for science fiction fans, movies and television shows are an excellent supplement.

"There are many well done sci-fi television shows and movies," says Thomas Glenn, a Calgary-based science fiction fan. Glenn lists these movies as some of his favorites:

  • Star Wars
  • Space Odyssey: 2001
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Aliens


New England Science Fiction Association

The Minnesota Science Fiction Society


Science Fiction Classics
Review scientific books recommended by a scientist and author

Northwest Science Fiction Resources
Keep up on the latest news, conventions, and other sci-fi "happenings"

The Science Fiction Research Association
A professional organization for the study of science fiction and fantasy literature and film

Wonderful resource offering in-depth reviews of the latest in science fiction novels

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