National Science Fiction Day

National Science Fiction Day Takes place annually on 2 January in memory of the birthday of prolific Science fiction author Isaac Asimov, who defined “Science fiction as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.”

“Science fiction” includes a wide range of subgenres and themes. James Blish wrote: “Wells used the term originally to cover what we would today call ‘hard’ science fiction, in which a conscientious attempt to be faithful to already known facts (as of the date of writing) was the substrate on which the story was to be built, and if the story was also to contain a miracle, it ought at least not to contain a whole arsenal of them.” According to Robert A. Heinlein, “a handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.”

Lester del Rey wrote, “Even the devoted aficionado or fan—has a hard time trying to explain what science fiction is”, and that the reason for there not being a “full satisfactory definition” is that “there are no easily delineated limits to science fiction.” Author and editor Damon Knight summed up the difficulty, saying “science fiction is what we point to when we say it”, while author Mark C. Glassy argues that the definition of science fiction is like the definition of pornography: you do not know what it is, but you know it when you see it.

The first use of the term “Sci-Fi” (analogous to the then-trendy “hi-fi”) is credited to Forrest J Ackerman in 1954. Then as science fiction entered popular culture, writers and fans active in the field came to associate the term with low-budget, low-tech “B-movies” and with low-quality pulp science fiction. By the 1970s, critics were using sci-fi to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction. Peter Nicholls writes that “SF” (or “sf”) is “the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers.” Robert Heinlein found even “science fiction” insufficient, and suggested the term speculative fiction to be used instead, which has continued to be applied to “serious” or “thoughtful” science fiction.

Science fiction had its beginnings in the time when the line between myth and fact was blurred. 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. Some consider it the first science fiction novel. Some of the stories from The Arabian Nights, along with the 10th century The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and Ibn al-Nafis’s 13th century Theologus Autodidactus also contain elements of science fiction.

Products of the Age of Reason and the development of modern science itself, Johannes Kepler’s Somnium, Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Cyrano de Bergerac’s Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon  and The States and Empires of the Sun, Margaret Cavendish’s “The Blazing World” (1666), Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Ludvig Holberg’s novel Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum  and Voltaire’s Micromégas are some of the first true science fantasy works. Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan considered Somnium the first science fiction story. It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth’s motion is seen from there. Mary Shelley’s books Frankenstein and The Last Man helped define the form of the science fiction novel. Brian Aldiss has argued that Frankenstein was the first work of science fiction. Edgar Allan Poe wrote several stories considered science fiction, including one about a trip to the Moon. Jules Verne was noted for his attention to detail and scientific accuracy, especially Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which predicted the modern nuclear submarine. The 1887 novel El anacronópete by Spanish author Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau introduced the first time machine.

H. G. Wells is one of science fiction’s most important authors. His notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). His science fiction imagined alien invasion, biological engineering, invisibility, and time travel. In his non-fiction futurologist works he predicted the advent of airplanes, military tanks, nuclear weapons, satellite television, space travel, and something resembling the World Wide Web. In 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs published A Princess of Mars, the first of his three-decade-long planetary romance series of Barsoom novels, set on Mars and featuring John Carter as the hero. Then In 1926 Hugo Gernsback published the first American science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. In 1928 E. E. “Doc” Smith published, The Skylark of Space in collaboration with Lee Hawkins Garby, appeared in Amazing Stories. It is often called the first great space opera. In 1928 Philip Francis Nowlan’s original Buck Rogers story, Armageddon 2419, appeared in Amazing Stories. This was followed by a Buck Rogers comic strip, the first serious science fiction comic.

In 1937 John W. Campbell became editor of Astounding Science Fiction, which featured stories celebrating scientific achievement and progress In 1942, Isaac Asimov started his Foundation series, which chronicles the rise and fall of galactic empires and introduced psychohistory. Theodore Sturgeon’s 1953 novel More Than Human explored possible future human evolution.In 1957 Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale by Russian writer and paleontologist Ivan Yefremov presented a view of a future interstellar communist civilization. In 1959 Robert A. Heinlein published Starship Troopers Which is one of the first and most influential examples of military science fiction, and introduced the concept of powered armor exoskeletons. In 1961 The German space opera series Perry Rhodan, was begun chronicling the first Moon landing, this has since expanded to the entire Universe taking place over billions of years. In 1961 the science fiction story Solaris was published by Stanisław Lem. Thisdealt with the theme of human limitations as its characters attempted to study a seemingly intelligent ocean on a newly discovered planet.

During the 1960s and 1970s New Wave science fiction became known for a high degree of experimentation, The 1965 science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert featured a much more complex and detailed imagined future society than had been common in science fiction before. In 1968 Philip K. Dick published his best-known novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Which became Blade Runner. In 1969 Ursula K. Le Guin published the science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. This was set on a planet in which the inhabitants have no fixed gender and became one of the most influential examples of social science fiction, feminist science fiction, and anthropological science fiction. In 1976 C. J. Cherryh published Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth, which began her Alliance-Union universe future history series. In 1979 Science Fiction World began publication in the People’s Republic of China.

In 1984 William Gibson’s first novel Neuromancer helped popularize cyberpunk, and the word “cyberspace” — a term he coined in his 1982 short story Burning Chrome. In 1986 Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold began her Vorkosigan Saga. 1992’s Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson predicted immense social upheaval due to the information revolution. In 2007 Liu Cixin’s novel, The Three-Body Problem, was published in China. It was translated into English by Ken Liu and published by Tor Books in 2014, winning the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Liu was the first Asian writer to win “Best Novel.” The latest science fiction themes include environmental issues, the implications of the global Internet and the expanding information universe, questions about biotechnology and nanotechnology, as well as a post-Cold War interest in post-scarcity societies, steampunk and biopunk.

Other Events and holidays happening on 2 January

  • National Buffet Day
  • National Cream Puff Day
  • National Motivation and Inspiration Day
  • National Run it Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day
  • Personal Trainer Awareness Day

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