Science fiction

Length: 6 Pages 1474 Words

The term genre refers to a category of written work which is well established, and is distinguishable from other categories by its unique conventions. Speculative fiction is a relatively recent genre, with the term only being coined by Robert Heinlein in 1941. It is an umbrella term, encompassing the sub genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror, as well as other strange and amazing tales which do not fit any other category. Two speculative fiction texts which both reflect and challenge the genre are George Lucas’ Star Wars and Isabel Allende’s City of the Beasts. The two works are from entirely different ends of the speculative fiction spectrum. At one end, we have Star Wars, classified under the sub-genre of science fiction. While speculative fiction had gained a newfound popularity in university campuses across the United States in the 1960s, it was not until the release of Star Wars in 1977 that mainstream society was introduced to an already well established alternative sub-genre. Star Wars has become one of the defining texts of science fiction, making its conventions easily recognisable. It helped to establish science fiction iconography such as laser guns, faster than light travel, intergalactic travel Continue...


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What happens in the future will determine whether the novel retains this value; if the entire Amazon is destroyed, the novel will become somewhat prophetic, and hold its value as a caution which should have been taken more seriously. The speculative fiction convention of the unlikely hero is reflected in both texts, showing this as one of the more universal characteristics of speculative fiction. This shows that while a cautionary theme is a major convention, other characteristics are more highly valued and recognised in works of speculative fiction. However, when Star Wars was released, it was an innovative work which helped to establish the iconography of science fiction. Magical realist authors write the miraculous as ordinary and the ordinary as miraculous. At the other end of the speculative fiction spectrum is Isabel Allende, renowned Cuban author and part of the magical realist movement of South America. In City of the Beasts, we see two unlikely heroes, Nadia Santos and Alexander Cold, save a tribe of native Indians from a deadly virus injection. Star Wars will be remembered as one of the defining texts of speculative fiction, and, although its once amazing special effects are now outdated, it has helped to shape the conventions of the genre. As can be seen from both Star Wars and City of the Beasts, it would be rare for any speculative fiction work to encompass every convention of the genre. Both of these texts hold strong value in contemporary society. City of the Beasts is also part of an innovative movement, with magical realism only just becoming an accepted part of speculative fiction. The idea of a cautionary theme is present in most works of speculative fiction. The major influence of City of the Beasts was the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest by entrepreneurs, who hold the belief that the region is rich with gold and priceless minerals. Bruce Holland Rogers states that "it is...serious fiction, which is to say it is not escapist.... While a South American reader may be quite familiar with the myths and legends represented in the novel, a reader foreign to these parts would find them extraordinary, and thus a new world is created.

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