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It's often said that Science Fiction is the literature of change. When a culture is undergoing a lot of changes due to scientific advances and technological developments, and expects to undergo more, it's hardly surprising if stories about these changes become popular as a way of expressing people's feelings (optimistic or otherwise) about change. Note that the changes may be in our ability to control the world, or just in our understanding of it.
I'm a Ph.D here in WA. My thesis is on science fiction. I think I can fill this one.
Science fiction, in its general sense, can be identified as a narrative which employs extrapolation to anticipate the emergence of new technologies, social or cultural relationships and the dynamics of social reality. Darko Suvin, in "Metamorphosis of Science Fiction" has the longest standing definition. He refers to science fiction as the literature of cognitive estrangement. This is to suggest that unlike other genres within speculative fiction, such as horror and fantasy, science fiction, if it is to be effective, must contain some element of truth, or be a reflection of existing social/cultural issues or concerns. The genre can be traced by to Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (1818) though this is a claim that is often contested. Nevertheless, it is where I and many other critics of the genre examine its foundation.