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Science Fiction as Literature

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The idea of establishing an alternative world contrary to known reality is the basis of science fiction. The genre, like literature, has existed for decades now. Its setting often comprises of elements with imaginary content. Its components correlate perfectly with some aspects of literature. Surprisingly, most critics have taken to argue against the idea. The debate remains open for discussion, but it would be mindful to argue from both sides. It provides grounds to observe the various features science fiction holds that closely match with contemporary literature.

To begin with, many science fiction books have always been treated as serious literature. For instance, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was considered a romace novel. On the other hand, major writers of mainstream literature have also written various science fiction books. Some of the respected writers who have written science fiction include Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing, Anthony Burgess, George Orwells, and Aldous Huxley among others. Some writers, like Kurt Vonnegut, have extensively employed science fiction themes and premises in their writings (Westfahl 49). Novels often deal with characters through which the novelist unravels whatever they wish to communicate to the readers. Like literature work, science fiction also employs the use of characters to convey a particular theme. No wonder, a novel writer, can successfully write science fiction (Gunn and Candelaria 57).

Most authors find it difficult to differentiate science fiction from classical literature. The majority critics would not consider science fiction as part of literature, but they always would find it hard to separate the two. Orson Scott Card, a renowned author of both science fiction and non-science fiction, once postulated that science fiction is relatively clearer, compared to classical writings. In fact, science fiction often holds the intellectual significance and message of the writing within its storyline. The writers often neglect extensive use of literary devices (Westfahl 72). Most critics confuse lack of artistic merit with clarity of language. From this point of view, the merge between science fiction and mainstream literature would be clear. However, most critics have taken to deny the merit. In fact, some authors often strive to ensure their books are not categorized as science fiction yet the tropes employed in the novel could be recognized by many as science fiction.

Despite the constant dismissal by the mainstream, science fiction qualifies to be part of literature. Like literature, science fiction often provides sheer narrative excitement to the reader. At the moment, Avatar seems to be the best science fiction movie to have received public acclaim. The story revolves around humans who visit a planet filled with blue-skinned aliens by downloading their perception into genetically modified alien bodies. The setting is at 2154 when the world is at the verge of death. The energy resources of the Earth are almost depleted. The United States military travels to a distant planet, Pandora, with hope of extracting a valuable mineral that would help save the world. The Na’vi, blue-skinned aliens are determined to resist the plunder of their precious eco-system. The military, led by Colonel Miles Quaritch, seek for help from a star biologist since they were unable to handle the atmospheric pressure in Pandora. The biologist, Grace, creates an avatar, which serves as a cultural diplomat between humans and the Na’vi. Like most writings in the mainstream, avatar is an interesting story that entertains and largely involves scientific theory.

Finally, as critics and proponents fail to agree on the merit of science fiction as part of literature, they both agree that some elements are constituted in both genres. These components are significant aspects to merit science fiction as part of literature. Most science fiction authors develop fascinating ideas that address contemporary themes. In addition, some science fiction books have also employed stylistic devices in their writings. Considering the massive public acclaim of science fiction, it is time, when science fiction is incorporated into the mainstream literature.

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