Science Fiction


Science fiction emerged as a genre in the 19th century with works of gothic and horror literature like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It was followed by books by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and in the 20th century, expanded from literature into myriad creative forms, from illustration to film and animation. Early 20th-century illustrations for science fiction magazines, such as Amazing Stories, depicted visions of utopian technological advances, while artists during the 1960s and 1970s employed science fictional tropes to respond to both the promises and anxieties of accelerating technological and scientific advancements like space exploration, surveillance, and nuclear power. Works characterized as science fiction often explore alternative and future scenarios based on developments in science, technology, society, and nature, creatively visualizing the most extreme long-term consequences of present-day reality. For example, Robert Smithson, along with artists associated with the Land Art movement, created performances and sculptures that combined notions of time travel and the primordial world. Feminist artists and artists of the Afrofuturism movement have also incorporated techniques of science fiction to create speculative futures that hold a mirror to contemporary injustices.

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