Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature

Start Free Trial

What is the definition of the science fiction genre and how does A Canticle For Leibowitz comply with the definition? I have to write a page and it has to include: - What is the definition of science fiction? - How does science fiction comply with the novel A Canticle For Leibowitz?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The definition of the literary genre of science fiction is a fairly simple one. Science fiction has four components. It is often based on true principles of science and technology. It is set in an imaginary place and time and possibly contains futuristic predictions. It may involve aliens or extraterrestrial life. It often comments on social issues of our day.

One guiding principle that is sometimes violated is that the science and technology should accord with what is know, even when science and technology take imaginative leaps into new territory, as in the film The Last Mimzy, for example,.

Some popular topics are near and far future, space travel, time travel, technology gone awry, life outside the solar system, the destruction of worlds as in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, the creation of worlds, other dimensions and parallel universes such as the world of Chaos or the Disc World.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. accords with this definition because it takes place in the future; it involves rationally developed technology and science; and it involves space travel. One element that isn't part of the definition is the supernatural character who claims to be Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team