Science fictions have now broadened to include magic, sorcery, with the success of such works as Harry Potter series, essentially for children. So it is difficult to define science fiction. Some of the earliest works that popularised sci-fi (SF) are by such writers as H G Wells (Time Machine, The Invisible Man) and Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days). They in fact are considered the ‘fathers’ of sci-fi. A Very Short Introduction on Science Fiction by David Seed looks at some of the historic moments in the genesis, growth and spread of sci-fi, its relation to technology, space and aliens. Seed works on the “premise that what we know as science fiction began to emerge in the late 19th century with a great upsurge in utopia, future-war narratives, and representatives of other genres that can be grouped under the SF umbrella.”
While future times and future wars have dominated sci-fi, a journeys into the past have also been equally portrayed. In one of the chapters Seed discusses the utopia and non-utopia in sci-fi and gender issues.
It is an educative introduction into the world of science fiction, giving the basic minimum on the subject, and yet comprehensively covering a whole range of issues. Indexed, pocket sized and like all other VSI, it gives suggestions for further reading.
(Oxford University Press Great Clarendon Street, Oxford ox2 6dp)