Why Sci-Fi Is Making A Comeback
The Modern Prometheus...
Have you noticed something lately? All of the biggest and best TV shows and movies seem to have one thing in common these days: Sci-Fi.
Yes, my friend, good ole' science fiction is making a massive comeback. In fact, it already has, it's just getting bigger and bigger and bigger than ever before.
THINK ABOUT IT: Superhero movies? That's all sci-fi. Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, Inception, The Martian, The Matrix, Interstellar, Looper, Wall-E, Gravity, Arrival, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...The list goes on and on...and these are some of the best movies being made! So when did this whole sci-fi craze even start?
Science fiction in its modern form began in the early 19th century with the publication of Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley in 1818. But it wasn't until later in the century that the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells would explode into the public imagination with tales like Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1864) and The Time Machine (1895).
The birth of this new genre represented a kind of "wild west" of the mind. New kinds of technologies, sciences, civilizations, worlds, alternate history; they could all be dreamed up and written down on paper and enjoyed by millions for the first time in history.
The Golden Age...
The 20th century was a true whirlwind for the world. Two massive global wars surrounded by smaller conflicts, and then the Cold War: They all helped to facilitate a thermonuclear explosion of creativity. Some of the imaginings of the past, like traveling to the moon, fax machines, and nuclear power, all became a reality during this time. Like their predecessors, prolific writers dared to imagine future worlds, technologies, and alternate iterations of our reality. Writers like Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke transformed our perception of ourselves.
With the advent of TV and film, some of the first success stories in film came from the world of sci-fi. Films like Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing, and shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek immersed us in amazing new worlds. As with everything, there are ebbs and flows, but science fiction seems immune to that maxim.
Science fiction always had a dedicated and loyal audience. Over generations, that audience has grown exponentially, further solidifying sci-fi in our cultural mindset. In fact, these days, things just aren't as interesting without a hint of sci-fi in the story. Comic books perhaps best represent an unending line of creative storytelling over the decades, which all fall within the sci-fi spectrum.
Nowadays, comic books ARE the movie business. They are the blockbusters attracting everyone to theaters at a time when little else manages to do the same. At a time when creativity in Hollywood is at an all-time low, they've had to look to places where creativity seems to flow endlessly: to science fiction. There's just so much to draw from, it's no wonder it's become the best source for adaptations in the last two decades.
So why exactly is science fiction making a comeback? Well, in short, it was never gone to begin with. It's just gotten bigger and better with time; to the point where, now, it's ubiquitous with quality artistic expression.
Sci-fi represents an outlet for everything that causes the aggregate human mind and spirit anxiety, seeking to relieve it or hyperbolize it for the sake of a dire warning. It is an introspective genre that, particularly at a time when the future is truly at stake in the challenges of climate change, nuclear exchanges, and increased nationalism, we cannot help but seek solace in worlds of "what-ifs" and "maybes" for some answer, some relief from the burdens we face as the arbiters of humanity's course through time.