Guide to Literary Terms

Start Free Trial

What is science fiction?

Science fiction is a genre of fiction that imaginatively depicts the impacts of scientific advances, however plausible.

Guide to Literary Terms Study Tools

Take a quiz Ask a question Start an essay

Science Fiction

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated May 26, 2023.

Science fiction is a subgenre of fantasy fiction concerned with the impact of actual or imagined science on individuals or societies. Works of science fiction often deal with apocalyptic or dystopian settings, extraterrestrial life forms, and the exploration of outer space.

Science evolved from the Latin word scientia, from sciens, meaning “having knowledge.” Fiction evolved from the Latin fingere, meaning “to form, shape, to feign.” 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered one of the first works of science fiction, though a few earlier works exist that could be seen as ancestors of the genre, such as Greek writer Lucian’s Trips to the Moon. Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is a modern science fiction novel.

see: fantasyfiction

Explore all literary terms.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Scene

Next

Short story