Science Fiction

Paul K. Alkon points to William Wilson as the first person to utilize the term science fiction in his 1851 book A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject (Alkon 8). Yet it was not until 1929 when Hugo Gernsback reused the term science fiction to describe the magazine he started in 1926 called Amazing Stories. Alkon says of Amazing Stories, “Its announced aim was to stimulate fiction that would continue what Gernsback saw as the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells” (Alkon 8). This means that Frankenstein has been retroactively placed into the genre of science fiction because no such thing existed at the time of its publication. The real difference between science fiction and gothic literature is the shift from supernatural events to events based in a more scientific and concrete nature. Science fiction is aimed at eliciting strong emotional responses from a rational plot.

Here we have arrived at the main point of differentiation between science fiction and gothic literature. Science fiction focuses on the basis of rational thought and expands on that to create its own sublimity. Works of the science fiction genre ask readers to accept science as a mechanism of creating fantasy. Gothic literature and its reliance on Romanticism asks readers to suspend their disbelief in order to achieve sublimity. Due to these differences, there is a large void between gothic literature and science fiction. Science fiction by its very nature expels the ideas of Romanticism and the supernatural.

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