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Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas." It usually eschews the supernatural, and unlike the related genre of fantasy, historically science fiction stories were intended to have at least a faint grounding in science-based fact or theory at the time the story was created, but this connection has become tenuous or non-existent in much of science fiction.
Author and editor Damon Knight summed up the difficulty, saying "science fiction is what we point to when we say it", Hugo Gernsback, who was one of the first in using the term "science fiction", described his vision of the genre: "By 'scientifiction' I mean the Jules Verne, H. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story—a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision." In 1970 William Atheling Jr.wrote about the English term "science fiction": "Wells used the term originally to cover what we would today call ‘hard’ science fiction, in which a conscientious attempt to be faithful to already known facts (as of the date of writing) was the substrate on which the story was to be built, and if the story was also to contain a miracle, it ought at least not to contain a whole arsenal of them." According to science fiction writer Robert A.Heinlein, "a handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method." Lester del Rey wrote, "Even the devoted aficionado—or fan—has a hard time trying to explain what science fiction is", and that the reason for there not being a "full satisfactory definition" is that "there are no easily delineated limits to science fiction." It is related to, but different from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated physical laws (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).The settings of science fiction are often contrary to those of consensus reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader's mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements.Science fiction elements include: As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has antecedents which go back to an era when the dividing line separating the mythological from the historical tends to become somewhat blurred, though precursors to science fiction as literature can be seen in Lucian's True History in the 2nd century, It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth's motion is seen from there.Following the 18th-century development of the novel as a literary form, in the early 19th century, Mary Shelley's books Frankenstein (1818) and The Last Man helped define the form of the science fiction novel, and Brian Aldiss has argued that Frankenstein was the first work of science fiction.
Then with the dawn of new technologies such as electricity, the telegraph, and new forms of powered transportation, writers including H. Wells and Jules Verne created a body of work that became popular across broad cross-sections of society.Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898) describes an invasion of late Victorian England by Martians using tripod fighting machines equipped with advanced weaponry.It is a seminal depiction of an alien invasion of Earth.In the late 19th century, the term "scientific romance" was used in Britain to describe much of this fiction.This produced additional offshoots, such as the 1884 novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott.The term would continue to be used into the early 20th century for writers such as Olaf Stapledon.