When the genre began to gel in the early 20th century, it was generally disreputable, particularly in the United States, where it first catered to a juvenile audience.Following World War II, science fiction spread throughout the world from its epicentre in the United States, spurred on by ever more staggering scientific feats, from the development of nuclear energy and atomic bombs to the advent of space travel, human visits to the Moon, and the real possibility of cloning human life.Written in the 2nd century AD by the Hellenized Syrian satirist Lucian, A True Story contains many themes and tropes that are characteristic of modern science fiction, including travel to other worlds, extraterrestrial lifeforms, interplanetary warfare, and artificial life. Following the 18th-century development of the novel as a literary form, Mary Shelley's books Frankenstein (1818) and The Last Man (1826) helped define the form of the science fiction novel.Brian Aldiss has argued that Frankenstein was the first work of science fiction.Fans relished the seemingly endless variety of SF-related products and pastimes, including books, movies, television shows, computer games, magazines, paintings, comics, and, increasingly, collectible figurines, Web sites, DVDs, and toy weaponry.They frequently held well-attended, well-organized conventions, at which costumes were worn, handicrafts sold, and folk songs sung. Such flights of fancy, or fantastic tales, provided a popular format in which to satirize government, society, and religion while evading libel suits, censorship, and persecution.The clearest forerunner of the genre, however, was the 17th-century swashbuckler Utopias and dystopias.) The voyager eats fruit from the biblical tree of knowledge and joins lunar society as a philosopher—that is, until he is expelled from the Moon for blasphemy.
New Wave authors were known for their embrace of a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility; 1969’s The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K.
Le Guin was set on a planet in which the inhabitants have no fixed gender.
It is one of the most influential examples of social science fiction, feminist science fiction, and anthropological science fiction.
Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas".
"Science fiction" is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes.