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Back in 1953, in what was still the early days of the Science Fiction genre, the great sci fi author Isaac Asimov defined it as “that branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings”. It is a branch of literature which has grown exponentially, hand-in-hand with the growth of human advances in science and technology and, by the 1970s its purpose, as evidenced in the new style of writing that had developed, had matured into one which wasn’t only concerned with science, but with consequences of scientific and technological advancement. Sci fi author Pamela Sargent then defined it as “the literature of ideas.”
But even that definition doesn’t go far enough. ‘Ideas’ and ‘consequences of ideas’ are now, almost too-limited a way of looking at what science fiction has become. Not only do authors project the advancement of science into the future and calculate the consequences – they assess, in advance, the moral consequences of these advances. They seek to pre-empt the kind of philosophical, moral and ethical issues that might ensue, and consider how to react. Or how our philosophical reasoning might also advance, along with technologies. As such, the best science fiction books are works of the philosophy of technology, and ethics. As new scientists, studying at university, have their work and theories swayed by the latest sci fi novel they read – so, philosophers may find themselves re-reading the self-same novels to obtain a head-start on the new frontiers of philosophy.
But not all science fiction is heavy with tech and theses on the human condition! There is something for everyone in this wide and deep genre of ideas. For pure action and adventure enthusiasts, thriller aficionados, and those wishing to, simply, be entertained – there are books and authors a plenty to go around. And you can start by looking in our list of books below…
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