The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

Questions tagged [science-fiction-genre]

Used for questions on the science fiction genre itself, including its tropes and conventions. Should **not** be used to categorize questions about specific works of science fiction.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
121
votes
4answers
19k views

Where does the archetypal image of the 'Grey' alien come from?

As I show below, typical alien depictions include an elongated, pale face, two dark elliptical eyes, and a small mouth. Who first used this design for an alien? Where does this design come from?
97
votes
2answers
7k views

Is there a term for the science fiction trope where a character lists two historical things and a future thing?

In Babylon 5, for example, a character lists famous bombings like "Hiroshima, Dresden, San Diego" with the first items in the list being real and the last being fictional. This dialog technique of ...
89
votes
4answers
13k views

Were there science fiction stories written during the Middle Ages?

Were there science fiction stories written during the Middle Ages (i.e., before circa 1500 AD)? Joannes Kepler wrote a science fiction work called Somnium in 1609, an "interview with a knowledgeable '...
71
votes
14answers
9k views

Why aren't alien planets as varied in climate as the Earth?

The Earth in all of its varieties has wide ranging climates. At the top level it has tropical, dry, temperate, continental, and polar climates. And yet often the planets depicted in science fiction ...
71
votes
4answers
15k views

Why are energy weapons seen as more acceptable in children's shows than guns that fire bullets?

This is a question about the real-world factors that have influenced the development of science fiction and television for children. In children's television (as well as movies), especially animation,...
58
votes
3answers
8k views

What was the first story to be set in the future?

Lots of science fiction stories today are set in the future. Sometimes they give a specific date, like they'll say "AD 2532". Sometimes it's not spelled out but it's obvious, like I'm not sure if Star ...
57
votes
7answers
5k views

When was the first time that a science fiction story mentioned the concept of a “prison planet”?

For our purposes, "prison planet" may be defined as follows: "An entire planet, or at least the vast majority of its surface area, has been classified as a good place to dump convicted criminals so ...
54
votes
8answers
10k views

What is “the prop” used in many Sci-Fi movies?

While watching the Crew Commentary on the Babylon 5 Pilot Movie "The Gathering", I heard JMS and John Navarro talk about "the mystery object", a prop which has supposedly been passed around and ...
48
votes
4answers
9k views

What is that high-pitched sound from all those 50s sci-fi B-movies?

It's an iconic sound but I have no idea what makes it and not much of an idea how to describe it. but I'll give it a try. It's an artificial, high-pitched whistling sort of sound. You normally hear it ...
45
votes
11answers
13k views

What's the 'earliest future' mentioned in a work of science fiction?

Many pieces of science fiction are set in the future. E.g. Back to the Future has a future set in 2015, Bladerunner has one set in 2019, Alien seems to be set around 2087, and so forth. Q: I am ...
38
votes
5answers
21k views

Difference between Space Opera and Science Fiction?

A while back a guy came into the place where I was working. He had a book (I don't remember the name). The book was, according to him, SciFi. I told him, "Great! My favorite SciFi is the Skylark ...
37
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is the name “Rigel”, and especially “Rigel VII”, used in multiple universes?

Star Trek has a Rigel VII. Star Wars has a Rigel VII. Marvel Comics has a Rigel-3. The Simpsons has a Rigel 7, though I expect this is parodying the aforementioned works. All of the above systems ...
36
votes
3answers
4k views

Who was the earliest female science fiction writer?

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818. I wonder if most readers would consider the book within the science fiction genre. It certainly has claim to the Gothic and horror genres as well. If you do ...
35
votes
8answers
9k views

What was the first story to feature the plot “the monsters were human all along”?

The plot/trope where some crime so violent or egregious has happened that some alien/monster is automatically suspected to be behind it, only for our human protagonists to investigate, and in the end ...
33
votes
12answers
12k views

What is the latest date for the setting in a sci-fi text or movie?

I was thinking of the Mayans this morning, and the controversy about the Mayan calendar in 2012 (through a long and circuitous thought process). But it got me thinking: Someone back 5000 years ago ...
31
votes
5answers
7k views

Which Sci-Fi work first showed hostile Artificial Intelligence?

We see hostile Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Sci-Fi all the time. Examples include Terminator movie series The Matrix movie series Superman (Brainiac) I, Robot (V.I.K.I.) Ex Machina Portal game ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Which fictional work first used the term “space-time continuum”?

I would expect that it's post-Einstein, but probably not by too much. I know that Star Trek used it to death, but I suspect that it pre-dated ST.
30
votes
8answers
3k views

First use of the term “warp” to denote travel/speed?

I have just watched Space Battleship Yamato (2010) and they used the term "warp" to denote a type of drive. I think Star Trek is the obvious place where this term was first used to describe faster ...
28
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the first sci-fi themed hit song?

Over the years, there have been many sci-fi themed hit songs, such as Mr. Roboto and The Final Countdown. Which was the first? I would define "hit" as appearing on the Billboard Hot 100, or other ...
26
votes
12answers
1k views

Why are “reboots” not done for novels? [closed]

It's pretty common for science fiction TV shows to be "rebooted" (I would guess more common than other genre because of the way that the science elements date). For example, Battlestar Galactica, ...
26
votes
8answers
6k views

What was the first science fiction story set to the future without bothering about the present?

I'm not talking time travels and such, even if that can be involved. In the early days of science fiction, even if you travelled to outer space, back in time or forward in time, it always started in ...
25
votes
5answers
4k views

Was the original Enterprise truly the first sci-fi spaceship designed purely for exploration?

In this video, the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson chooses the Enterprise over the Millenium Falcon. One reason he gives is that the Enterprise is the first sci-...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

What was the earliest story about an AI takeover before the book “Colossus”?

There are hundreds of movies, books, and stories today that have their roots in the 30s-50s. One of my favorites is the "computer takes over the world" genre that birthed movies like the Terminator ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

What is Slipstream?

I know it's a subgenre of scifi and fantasy, but what are the defining characteristics? What makes a story slipstream?
22
votes
7answers
2k views

What was the first sci-fi work that had an intelligent virus/bacterium?

What's the earliest example of an intelligent virus/bacterium? There have been a number of comic-book characters (e.g. Sublime, Hlavac, Despotellis), television versions (e.g. the black oil from the X-...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

What was the first SciFi work that theorized that Homo Sapiens were seeded on Earth by intelligent aliens?

What was the first SciFi work that theorized that Homo Sapiens were seeded on Earth by intelligent aliens (as opposed to all the other Earth species which evolved separately)? The earliest one I can ...
20
votes
6answers
620 views

What was the first known mention of artificial food generators?

I'm referring to devices like Star Trek replicators and matter compilers in Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. Are you aware of any earlier occurrences of such devices in literature or cinema?
19
votes
11answers
4k views

Did Science Fiction anticipate a device like a smartphone?

Personally, I never saw the smartphone coming, but maybe science-fiction did. Basically, I'm looking for the first science fiction story (if one exists) where people commonly have a device which can ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is green considered a toxic color in movies? [closed]

In movies I often see green used to color dangerous and/or poisonous substances colored green, like green clouds of gas considered poisonous, and green acid considered dangerous. Can anyone explain ...
19
votes
5answers
654 views

Why do anthologies have such a prominent place in the history of written SF?

My obsession with science-fiction first came to me through short stories, read in anthologies and single-writer collections. Dangerous Visions and The Science-Fiction Hall of Fame are more or less ...
19
votes
1answer
439 views

Did Any SF Stories Predict a Televised Moon Landing?

I've read that even with all the SF stories written about the first landing on the Moon, not a single one written before the Apollo missions were planned ever had any hint that the first landing would ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

What is earliest version of a “horcrux”? [duplicate]

I just realized a few days ago that Sauron's One Ring is kind-of like a horcrux, in that Sauron can't ever be totally destroyed as long as the One Ring exists. That set me to wondering: did Tolkien ...
19
votes
1answer
712 views

Can you identify these Doctors of the science fiction genre in miniature formats?

Please identify these Doctors, their minions, their comic or science fiction genre of origin and links, if possible.
18
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the earliest story to present man made machines as a threat to humans?

What is the first depiction of man made machines turning against human? I know of Terminator and Matrix but I suppose the theme is much older than those two? EDIT: I'm thinking more about machines ...
18
votes
3answers
8k views

Earth: Green Planet or Blue Planet?

I was reading some older (1930s-era) science fiction and noticed that Earth was described as the "Green Planet". In contrast, modern science fiction uniformly describes it as the "Blue Planet". When ...
18
votes
1answer
419 views

Is JMS's 4-Point System still in use?

At a Baltimore-area convention back in 1997 (I think), I recall that J. Michael Straczynski spoke of a Four Point System that he had developed for rating the overall quality (hardness?) of a piece of ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the term “first contact”?

This term has a long history in Star Trek: Star Trek: First Contact ST:TNG episode "First Contact" First Contact Day Also: Stargate: Atlantis episode "First Contact" Does this term originate in Star ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

What was the First Science Fiction Film?

Is Georges Méliès' film A Trip to the Moon (1902) the first science fiction film ever made? Or are there any SF films before it? I've searched and researched, on and off since I first saw it in a ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the first reference to 'video calls' in sci-fi?

I was thinking earlier today about video-calls, which reminded me of the video calls in Back To The Future 2. Then I remembered that a similar technology existed in Gerry Anderson's (RIP) ...
16
votes
3answers
615 views

Are there subgenres for science fiction with accurate science vs. made up science?

Are there terms that describe a science fiction story that strictly adheres to, I guess, plausible science concepts and technology versus science fiction were the science is really just made up and is ...
16
votes
3answers
698 views

Fictional languages: How prevalent is it in SF stories compared to fantasy stories? [closed]

I've come across numerous instances of the development of well-developed fictional language in fantasy stories. How common is it for well-developed fictional languages to be developed in science ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

What would the sky look like standing inside a Dyson Sphere? [closed]

I am working on a roleplaying campaign guide set inside a Dyson Sphere. It's a solid shell around a star like our own and is 300 million kilometers across centered on the star. The atmosphere hugs ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Which Sci-Fi or Fantasy work introduced the idea of “Infinite Time Loop”?

I have encountered "Infinite Time Loop" countless times. Some examples: In Doctor Strange (2016) movie, Doctor Strange took the time dimension into the dark dimension to trap Dormammu into an ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

First novel to meld science fiction and western genres?

A commercial for an upcoming movie got me thinking about works in which the genres of science fiction and western are combined. I've done some preliminary searching online, and it appears that while ...
15
votes
2answers
309 views

What Sci-fi film scores and soundtracks have won an Oscar? [closed]

Are there any sci-fi films whose musical score or soundtrack went on to win an Academy Award for best musical score? The Fountain comes to mind as having been nominated for a Golden Globe.
15
votes
1answer
477 views

Was ‘The Return of the Archons’ the first example of “regularly scheduled chaos”?

In the original series Star Trek, the episode "The Return of the Archons" (TOS, S01 E21) has a placid, peaceful society with a scheduled time of utter lawless chaos. Several SFF works since then (like ...
14
votes
16answers
4k views

What is the longest science fiction saga in books? [closed]

What is the longest science fiction saga in amount of books that wasn't created after movies or TV shows (that is, discarding Star Trek, Star Wars, X-Files)? Just to name a few: 2001, Rama, only 4. ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Do authors ever create conflicting canon to irk fussy fans? [closed]

I know that this site is the haven for anyone who loves to dig deep into their favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Even for a new visitor, from scrolling through this site shows that there's an awful lot ...
14
votes
3answers
813 views

What was the first SciFi work that referred to Pluto as NOT a planet?

In 2006, IAU changed its rules on what constitutes a planet. The most famous downstream impact of the new rules was that Pluto is now classified as Dwarf Planet (Plutoid) among Trans-Neptunial objects;...
14
votes
4answers
871 views

What's the earliest example in Science Fiction of a robot 100% mimicking a human?

The classic example is, of course, Stephen Byerley from Asimov's "Evidence". Were there SciFi works featuring robots that are able to be indistinguishable from humans (by sight or behavior) prior to ...