Slide 1: Elements of Science Fiction What is Science Fiction? : What is Science Fiction? Science fiction is a writing style which combines science and fiction.
It is constrained by what we presently regard as the basic physical laws of nature.
It evolved as a response to fantasy. Science Fiction Authors Definitions : Science Fiction Authors Definitions Theodore Sturgeon, author:
“A good science-fiction story is a story about human beings, with a human problem, and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content." Slide 4: Robert A. Heinlein, acclaimed author:
Science fiction is,
”…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." Slide 5: Sam Moskowitz, biographer:
"Science fiction is a brand of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the 'willing suspension of disbelief' on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science, and philosophy." Slide 6: The first contemporary novel to be considered a part of the ‘Science Fiction’ genre was Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley.
The author used a scientific rationale, combined with certain religious ideas, to persuade the reader that her story took place in the realm of the possible but touched upon the improbable. Slide 8: Frankenstein was the first English novel in English to deal with the possibility that the scientific community might create an entity that could destroy technological progress, and possibly humankind itself.
Mary Shelley did not wish the story to be considered ‘supernatural’. Scholars believe this is why she made the main character scientific in nature…
Although many scholars, including Mr.Fleegler, debate whether this character was the scientist or his creation (which some look upon as a neglected ‘son’). Slide 9: In mood the novel is a tale of terror, in plot a laboratory experiment gone awry.
The fusion of Gothic materials and science in this novel brought the tale of terror clearly into the stream of science fiction and also gave it a more credible base.
Even those who argue that this is not the first science fiction novel, acknowledge that Frankenstein is at least the first novel that demonstrated what a science fiction novel could be. Slide 10: Remember: Writers take scientific possibilities and develop them step-by-step from known data to form a story.
Given our current study of Satire do you think that this in depth study might also provide ample material to generate a Parody of its own genre? What is Extrapolation? : What is Extrapolation? Extrapolation is when a writer takes a known scientific fact and imagines what might happen if certain events or circumstances evolve.
Ie: Man can build space shuttles.
Man can travel to faraway planets. Science Fiction VS. Fantasy : Science Fiction VS. Fantasy In Science Fiction, there needs to be some possibility that the events could possibly happen.
In Fantasy, the author can use far-fetched assumptions. ie; unicorns, three-legged creatures etc. Slide 13: A Handbook to Literature defines science fiction as: "A form of fantasy in which scientific facts, assumptions, or hypotheses form the basis, by logical extrapolation, of adventures in the future, on other planets, in other dimensions in time, or under new variants of scientific law" (Holman). Slide 14: The same Handbook defines fantasy as "a work which takes place in a nonexistent and unreal world, such as fairyland, or concerns incredible and unreal characters. . . or employs physical and scientific principles not yet discovered or contrary to present experience as in science fiction and utopian fiction" (Holman).
Miriam Allen deFord explains the difference more succinctly: "'Science fiction deals with improbable possibilities, fantasy with plausible impossibilities" (Aldiss 26). Slide 15: It is a common science fiction convention that authors should not contradict known scientific fact (e.g., humans flying without on their own without the use of devices), but may do what they wish with commonly-accepted scientific theory (e.g., humans flying to distant planets in a space shuttle).
The author of fantasy does not feel such restraints. Major Themes in Science Fiction : Major Themes in Science Fiction Space travel to and from other planets
(ie: Star Wars, Star Trek)
Time travel to the past and future
(ie: Back to the Future)
Psychological/biological changes to man brought about by scientific changes
(ie: The Incredible Hulk) Slide 17: Supernormal powers/talents
(ie: Superman, Spiderman, Batman)
Science applied to human relations for constructive or destructive purposes
(ie: Weird Science)
Battle with alien life forms
(ie: Star Wars) Plot Conventions of Science Fiction : Plot Conventions of Science Fiction Examples of Story Ideas:
The Last Man/Woman on Earth
The First Landing Story
The Alternate World
The Lost Civilization Slide 19: The Alien Encounter
The Colonization of a New Planet
The End of the World
The Long Spaceship Voyage
From the point of view of an alien Sci Fi in the Movies : Sci Fi in the Movies Even before talkies, science fiction made its mark on film:
A Trip to the Moon (1902) by the Frenchman Georges Melies
Metropolis (1926) by the German Fritz Lang, the first classic science fiction film LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE : LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE Slide 22: In the 1930s several great classic films were produced:
Frankenstein (1931), with Boris Karloff, followed by endless sequels and remakes,
Invisible Man (1933), starring Claude Rains, from the novel by H.G. Wells
Things to Come (1936) from the screenplay by H.G. Wells and based on his novel The Shape of Things to Come. This is the first great sound picture in the field and the first film to show a utopian future that includes the promise of space flight.
Two prominent serials of the era are Flash Gordon (1936) and Buck Rogers (1939). Slide 23: HE FIFTIES B
An estimated 500 feature films and shorts that can be classified science fiction were made between 1948 and 1962.
Science fiction really began to proliferate on film after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. This event prompted a rash of after-the-bomb and alien invasion films.
1950s Destination Moon (1950), is a pseudodocumentary based on Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile novel Rocketship Galileo.
The Thing (1951), based on John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?," features James Arness as a fearsome, defrosted alien carrot; the film was remade in 1982. Sci Fi Movies in the ’60’s : Sci Fi Movies in the ’60’s Also in 1960 came The Time Machine, starring Rod Taylor, from the novel by H. G. Wells.
Stanley Kramer made another foray into science fiction in 1964 with Dr. Strangelove;
Love the Bomb. This dark comedic satire of nuclear war features Peter Sellars.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966) stars Oskar Werner in François Truffaut's film of the Ray Bradbury novel. Sci Fi Movies in the 70’s : Sci Fi Movies in the 70’s In 1977 the debut of Star Wars sparked a revitalization of science fiction.
Due to the huge success of this film, the market for and interest in science fiction as film and literature skyrocketed into the stratosphere again, rejuvenating and expanding the entire field.
Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) comprise the middle trilogy of a projected three-trilogy cycle of films by George Lucas, based in part on Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Slide 26: The long-awaited first trilogy began with The Phantom Menace in 1999; Ewan MacGregor plays the young Obi Wan Kenobi. In its sequel Attack of the Clones (2002) Hayden Christiansen plays Anakin Skywalker who will become Darth Vader. Filming started on the third film in this trilogy in 2003.
Lucas went on to complete the trilogy, answering many lingering questions and resolving the story line. A Science Fiction Movie franchise from the 80’s undergoes some changes… : A Science Fiction Movie franchise from the 80’s undergoes some changes… Batman (1989) is a stylish telling of the story of the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton); Jack Nicholson dominated as The Joker. Some viewers felt that a very stiff, almost draconic, performance by Keaton serves as an excellent ‘foil’ for Nicholson’s mercurial theatrics.
The sequel Batman Returns is memorable for appearances by notable villains; the Penquin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Batman Forever features a new Caped Crusader (Val Kilmer), and the debut of a juvenile sidekick Robin and villains played by Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey.
Batman and Robin (1997) stars George Clooney as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Alicia Silverstone debuts as Batgirl.
Do any of these films resemble the recent release of ‘Dark Knight’?
How have the characters changed or evolved throughout the series of films?
Evaluating the portrayals of the Joker by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger how do they compare/contrast?
What does this say about the changing interests of Movie Audiences today?
What factors, and/or events, in our Societies might have led to these changes? What + Where + When + Why = Who? : What + Where + When + Why = Who? Slide 29: An early animated version of the ‘Caped Crusader’. Slide 30: A cinematic interpretation of Batman from the mid 1980’s Slide 31: Our contemporary interpretation of the ‘Batman’ character…
now referred to as ‘The Darknight’. Slide 32: Blade Runner (1982) is Ridley Scott's stylish film of Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A director's cut (1992) clarified the nature of the film's major character and raised many of the same issues Shelley posed in Frankenstein,
Who are more monstrous – those we create…or those who perform the creation?
The Road Warrior (1982) is the second and best of the Mad Max films about a post-nuclear-holocaust world.
E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), another blockbuster from Steven Spielberg, was reissued with new footage for its 20th anniversary in 2002.
The Terminator (1984) is a James Cameron film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a machine of the future initially designed as an assassin; the sequel Terminator 2 (1991) picks up where the first film left off. A third film, T3: Rise of the Machines, was released in 2003. A Brief Overview of ‘Sci Fi’ appearing in popular media during the 90’s : A Brief Overview of ‘Sci Fi’ appearing in popular media during the 90’s Total Recall (1990), another Schwarzenegger vehicle, is loosely based on Philip K. Dick's short story, "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale."
Edward Scissorhands (1993) is an homage to the premise created by Frankenstein.
Timecop (1994) became a sci-fi television series as did Stargate (1994). Many viewers considered these shows to be drivel…but Network television has yet to show interest in the personal opinions of your English teacher.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) was directed by and stars Kenneth Branaugh as Victor. Robert de Niro plays the Monster.
Independence Day (1996), a wildly-patriotic Sci-fi film, some say turned out to be eerily prophetic in the wake of events that would occur on 9/11. Slide 34: Several major films came out in 1997:
Men in Black
Contact, based on a novel by Carl Sagan
Starship Troopers, based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein.
Face/Off, a fantasy thriller about stolen identities directed by John Woo Sci Fi Movies Today : Sci Fi Movies Today What are some famous of the science fiction movies released in this decade…and which of their qualities allow us to consider them ‘Sci-Fi’?
Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions (Certain critics felt that it was almost beyond the realm of belief that funding was available for the third part of the series)
New Star Wars Trilogy
Men in Black 1&2
Transformers Why should we study Science Fiction? Which of the following factors do you feel to be the most important? Make sure to discuss the reasoning behind your answers while citing examples from your own experiences and authors, or critics, in the field. : Why should we study Science Fiction? Which of the following factors do you feel to be the most important? Make sure to discuss the reasoning behind your answers while citing examples from your own experiences and authors, or critics, in the field. Entertainment value
Allows the audience to consider the question
Encourages creativity in writing and role-playing
Introduces students to a new literary genre
Teaches lessons about the value and dangers of advanced technology and virulent social beliefs.