Genre. Now that’s a fun word to say. Genre.
Do you know what a genre is? A genre is a category. When you like movies, you don’t
always like every kind — or every genre — of movie. You might love comedy movies, but not
the scary ones. Those are two different types, or genres, of movie. We put other things into
genres. We might split our building sets into different categories, like, say, I don’t
know, Space, Castle, or City. Books work the same way. Most chapter books are part of a
large genre called “fiction,” which just means those books tell a story that came from
the author’s imagination. But fiction alone doesn’t give us many details about what’s
in the book. So we can divide books up into more specific fiction genres. Harry Potter
and Charlotte’s Web are both fiction books, but they have very different settings and
characters. So we put them into different fiction genres. Let’s talk about one specific
fiction genre right now. You know those books that have spaceships
and robots and aliens and time travel … stuff like that? We call those kinds of stories
“Science Fiction”, or SCI-FI, for short. Science fiction, like most fiction, tells
a story that came from the author’s imagination. But what makes it different from other kinds
of fiction? Science fiction contains unreal things that
could be real in our world in the future. The unreal things in science fiction could
be those amazing spaceships or robots or aliens or time machines or any other kind of technology
or discovery that just maybe possibly could happen. A lot of imagination goes into writing
science fiction and building a world of possibilities. That’s why it’s so fun to read. Science
fiction often explores what happens when things go wrong with these tools or advancements.
It’s cool to build rockets and explore outer space, but what if the aliens we meet aren’t
so friendly? Sci fi can help us think about the many different outcomes of our actions. Most science fiction takes place in the real
world, or at least in a world with similar rules to ours. Sci-fi books have amazing,
inventive things in them, but those things play by the rules of our world, of what we
know and really experience. In other words, cool stuff happens because of science, not
magic. If someone can turn invisible in a science fiction book, it’s because they
built a light-refracting hologram projection device, and not because they drank an enchanted
potion. Science fiction is typically set in the future.
Now the future might be the next century, or the next day, but in the imagined future,
there is a technology or scientific discovery that makes things possible that would be impossible
in the present. Of course, some science fiction can be set in the present, in an alternative
but familiar world. There are even subgenres of sci fi set in the past, such as steampunk,
where advanced technologies are imagined to exist in a time before electricity. When you
get into genre study, you have to remember that there’s always an exception to every
rule. Genres get mixed and remixed all the time, and that makes it fun. So that’s science fiction. It’s full of
unreal things that could be real in our world or a similar world in the near or distant
future. Sci fi authors write about what if and what could be, and that helps us think
about what’s happening right now and how our choices affect the future and the world.
And the elseworlds beyond the multiverse. Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff you’re
read in science fiction, so get used to it. It’s awesome.