National Science Fiction Day

a spiral galaxy in space enclosed by a translucent sphere.

January 2

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.

original 1951 dust jacket of Asimov's novel Foundation, showing a swirling galaxy.
Original 1951 dust jacket of Asimov's novel Foundation.

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!


The Martian Chronicles, book cover
Parable of the Sower, book cover
Rendezvous With Rama, book cover
War of the Worlds, book cover
The Dispossessed, book cover
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, book cover
We , book cover
Dune, book cover
Starship Troopers, book cover
The Left Hand of Darkness, book cover
Fledgling, book cover
A Wrinkle in Time, book cover
The Time Machine, book cover
Snow Crash, book cover


2001: A Space Odyssey, book cover
Metropolis, book cover
Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary Trilogy, book cover
The Terminator, book cover
Dr. Strangelove, book cover
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, book cover