National Science Fiction Day is January 2, this day being Isaac Asimov's recognized birthday. Asimov (1920-1992) was a prolific writer of novels and short stories as well as a biochemistry professor. Along with authors like Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, he was one of the most prominent names of 20th century American SF. Asimov is perhaps best known for his series of Foundation novels, which tell the story of the decline of a huge galactic empire and the efforts made by scientists to mitigate the regress of civilization. These novels are the basis for an ongoing television series.
The Fascination of SF
Reading these novels when I was younger, I was intrigued by the questions they provoked: Would people eventually settle throughout the whole galaxy? Will civilization keep expanding and developing indefinitely, or will it follow a more cyclical pattern of growth and decay? Are there fundamental laws hidden in the vagaries of history, waiting to be discovered? How much control do we really have over how our societies develop?
Science fiction is less about answering such questions than posing them to the reader through engaging stories. This is both because they're deeply complicated questions and because stories are often more interesting when they don't posit conclusive answers. The reader is left to consider various possibilities, provoking a deep sense of wonder.
What SF Interests You?
The subgenres of SF are many, including dystopia, cyberpunk, time travel, space opera, alternative history, post-apocalypse and more. If you're a science fiction fan, which genres and stories have intrigued you the most? What kinds of questions about ourselves and our place in the universe do they raise? If you like, let us know in the comments below.
Featured here are some of my favorite books and films in the SF genre, all available through SJPL!