This article is about the genre specific to films. For the fiction genre in general, see Science fiction. For other uses, see Science fiction (disambiguation).
Science fiction (or sci-fi) is a film genre that uses speculative, fictional science-based depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial lifeforms, spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition.
2001: A Space Odyssey, the landmark 1968 collaboration between filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and classic science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, featured groundbreaking special effects, such as the realization of the spaceship USSC Discovery One (pictured here).
The genre has existed since the early years of silent cinema, when Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) employed trick photography effects. The next major example (first in feature length in the genre) was the film Metropolis (1927). From the 1930s to the 1950s, the genre consisted mainly of low-budget B movies. After Stanley Kubrick’s landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the science fiction film genre was taken more seriously. In the late 1970s, big-budget science fiction films filled with special effects became popular with audiences after the success of Star Wars (1977) and paved the way for the blockbuster hits of subsequent decades.
Screenwriter and scholar Eric R. Williams identifies Science Fiction Films as one of eleven super-genres in his screenwriters’ taxonomy, claiming that all feature length narrative films can be classified by these super-genres. The other ten super-genres are are action, crime, fantasy, horror, romance, slice of life, sports, thriller, war, and western.