Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).
Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes. Author and editor Damon Knight summed up the difficulty by stating that "science fiction is what we point to when we say it",
As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has antecedents back to mythology, though precursors to science fiction as literature can be seen in Lucian's True History in the second century A.D., which includes a fanciful voyage to the moon. Following the Age of Reason and the development of modern science itself, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels was one of the first true science fiction works. In the early 19th century, Mary Shelley's books Frankenstein and The Last Man helped define the form of the science fiction novel. Then, with the dawn of new technologies such as electricity, the telegraph, and new forms of powered transportation, writers like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells created a body of work that became popular across broad cross-sections of society. Pulp magazines helped develop a new generation of mainly American SF writers in the early twentieth century.
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article on science fiction.