The Growing Trend of Sci-Fi

Is it just me or are you noticing science fiction stuff is popping up all over now?  I know it’s been around forever, but lately it seems the genre is creeping into extraordinary spaces.

When I was growing up I’d probably say my favorite books were mystery novels, a genetic preference given to me my mother, I think I came out at birth reading Nancy Drew.  But I went through a sci-fi phase where all I read were books by Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and Christopher Pike.  Do you remember those authors?  My favorite titles respectively were The Sirens of Titan, 1984, and The Midnight Club.  Most of you are probably familiar with Vonnegut and Orwell, but if you’ve never heard of Pike, you might be fascinated with his story.  Pike was a college dropout turned house painter who failed at his attempts to write adult mystery novels.  An editor suggested he try teen thrillers, low and behold, the man has over 5 series and at least 30 titles to his pen name (real name is Kevin McFadden, Christopher Pike is rumored to be a nod to a Star Trek reference).  Pike adds a lot of science fiction to his tales.  I remember one story I read resulted in the people actually being lizards in their true form!

A Tamagotchi Pet

Remember when The Sims came out?  The Sims was a computer game that let you create people, place them in houses and manage their moods and well beings.  The trend went viral!  Expansion packs came out every year with Sim City, and The Sims Date Night, Sims Roller Coaster World, you name it.  I had a few of the games.  On a completely random obsessive note, I ALWAYS had a character named Kilgore Trout in the house, just my friendly nod to Vonnegut’s reuse of characters always making cameo appearances in his books.  Well, if you think about how popular The Sims was, you can see the same ideas with the Tamagachi pets and now with Wii games.  Tamagachis were handheld digital pets you had to feed and clean up after.  If they got unhappy, you lost points and your pet could die.  Wii players get to create their people and play in a virtual world doing almost anything with all the games out now, dance marathons, sports, battles, etc.

On top of video games, sci-fi is making more of an appearance in mainstream television.  Shows like Being Human put vampires, werewolves, and ghosts in people’s houses regularly.  And have any of you watched Face Off on the syfy channel?  The show features competitions for make up artists, but the contests are full of bizarre and creepy nods to the macabre elements.  Shows like Paranormal State have also made the career of paranormal research more realistic.  They document investigations around the country and several of their team members are still getting their college degrees in fields like technical support and camera work.  I find it really fascinating that ghost hunting as a career is becoming more mainstream through shows like this and TAPS.  I admit I watch both of them.  I once attended an Unexplained Conference in Rochester, Minnesota that hosted an array of ghost hunters, ghost tracking equipment and literature.  I don’t think that’s normal activity, but apparently it’s common enough we can hold conferences!

TV aside, we can’t ignore the literature wave of vampire books and paranormal literature that has spread across readership.  All ages are buying copies of the Twilight series, Vampire Diaries, heck Jane Austen has gone sci-fi!  I even read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!

There are movies galore making sci-fi popular too.  We could argue Harry Potter is more fantasy, but when people dress up and attend things like Harry Potter Summer Camp, we’ve entered the world of sci-fi, my friends.  How is dressing up as a magical wizard or witch any different than dressing up as a Star Wars character?  What about the wave of 3D movies: Avatar, Harry Potter, Twilight, Transformers?  We are heightening these varying worlds around us.

Is it the age of the geek, or have we found a niche for science fiction in today’s day and age?  Longtime beloved stories like Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Transformers and Star Trek have made new appearances on screen and encouraged a renewed excitement in the viewing of their original masterpieces.  I know this is happening because my best friend has politely and calmly sat through 10 seasons of Stargate with her boyfriend, and even I was invited over and subjected to a few episodes!  (Don’t get me wrong, I do love the movie!)

What do you think?  Do you see Sci-Fi entering fields it hasn’t before, or were you always a sci-fi nut who was just waiting for the rest of us to catch up?  Has the genre expanded to allow for a larger audience now that it’s not limited to outer space?  What role does that play in its ability to grab a larger audience?  What are some of your favorite sci-fi books, shows, and movies? 

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30 responses

  1. Movies are made now with such fantastic cinematography that I can’t help but love them. When I watch Transformers and Iron Man and Harry Potter movies, they reel me in simply because the action is so all-engrossing and beautifully done and unbelievable that my mouth drops open. And it takes me OUT of the daily world I live in to “another place” that can’t be done for me other than reading a good book.
    Patti

    1. Very true, we’ve advanced so much in our ability to create other worlds for people. I hadn’t thought of that fact that it could be because our devices and tools to create sci-fi have improved that now more people appreciate it. I will still forever love the original Stargate though.

  2. I have never called myself a sci-fi fan. I’m just not smart enough. However, it stopped me when you mentioned Christopher Pike. I read a good many of his books in the 80s.

    I have noticed the trend of vampires and werewolves everywhere…books, TV, movies. The last decade seems to have been full of this trend. Every time I think the market is saturated and the trend will end, something new comes out. I’m amazed people are so interested in this.

    I saw a preview on MTV not too long ago for a faux reality cops show in which vampires, werewolves, and zombies have over run the planet. It looked hysterical. It also made me wonder if the trend is ending. LOL

    1. Oooh a fellow Christopher Pike fan! I was just out at Target yesterday and saw a couple of his books for sale. I picked a few up and almost got them. Did you read his series on the last vampire? I’m intrigued it also involves reincarnation.

      1. I’ve not read that one. The ones I’ve read are the ones from the 80s. The Weekend, Slumber Party, Scavenger Hunt–ones like that. By 1991, I had quit reading him–but if he’s got something about reincarnation, I might just give him a try again. 😀

  3. Great post! I’ve always been a sci-fi geek – my parents raised me well on Star Trek and Doctor Who. I’m loving that it’s becoming more popular!

    1. I was thinking of you as I wrote this cause I knew you had some nice sci-fi parties!

  4. There seemed to be more fantasy when I was younger. Although there were a few like Philip K. Dick who wrote “experimental fiction” (they call it science fiction now) and Ursula LeGuin that wrote both fantasy and science fiction (the only real difference is does one use magic or technology). I do see it creeping into new areas, but it is still the same “experimental fiction” that it has always been. Explore an idea if it floats, cool, if not, try again. That is the heart of science fiction.

    Great post, Jess.

    1. Ursula LeGuin, that name sounds really familiar. I think she was discussed in The Jane Austen Book Club as a sci-fi writer Austen fans would like. Silly me, I didn’t think she was real, I’m totally checking her out on Goodreads now!

  5. I think there’s a new branch of sci-fi emerging, one that is readily apparent in films like “Inception.” I, for one, welcome that trend – I’ve always appreciated the genre, though I can’t say I’ve been a die-hard fan of it.

    1. There should be a set of sci-fi rules, like if Blade Runner is one of your top 5 favorite movies, you are a die hard fan. If you wish Tron was real, you are a die hard fan. If you wear your hair in Princess Leia buns, you are stupid.

      1. Yes, this! However, I will say that as a child I had never seen Star Wars, and so those funky buns were “Chung-Li buns” to me, after the character from Street Fighter. :p

  6. Okay, you had me at “Christopher Pike.” I devoured his books when I was in elementary school, only to have them banned from the school library after the 5th grade teacher discovered one and deemed it to be “highly inappropriate.” :p

    Frankly, as a die-hard geek/nerd-girl, I am loving this new emergence of sci-fi-ness… except what drives me nuts is when I see things getting dumbed-down so that it can appeal to a broader audience. The explanation of the ‘Phoenix force’ in X3? Don’t get me started on that drivel (“Jean Grey basically has an alternate personality that is named Phoenix!”).

    Wonderful post!

    1. My teacher banned his books too! That’s pretty funny. All of us still read them, but we just didn’t do our book reports on them anymore. hahaha

  7. I think I’ve always loved science fiction/fantasy. Dune was one of my favorite early novels. Paul Atreides was my first love. 😀 And then there’s A Wrinkle in Time. Clash of the Titans. I loved playing games with monsters and dragons, etc. I loved Tron. and Definitely wore Princess Leia buns at one point. 😀

    1. You did not wear the buns! Sonia, I forbid it! LOL

      I loved reading A Wrinkle in Time though, great book, one that’s been on my to read again list. Eventually. Too many books, too little time.

      1. Oh yes, I wore the buns. And I’m positive I looked hot in them. 😀

        Wrinkle is on my re-read list too. It was so good.

  8. I never really thought of myself as a sci-fi head, but I am and always have been. I loved the Vote Your Own adventures growing up, and those were mostly Sci-Fi. I remember playing Dungeons and Dragons on the old school computers, and movies like Goonies and Cloak and Dagger were my faves. I’ve always loved vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches, etc – totally sci-fi. Oddly enough, as an adult I don’t really read sci-fi and I’d like to get back into it. I bought the Twilight books, but haven’t read them. I want the Harry Potter books, and I already have soe of the Wicked books to catch up on too.
    The genre is definitely expanding, and has even hooked people like my parents. Can you believe it? My parents! 🙂

    1. You just reminded me that after I started reading the Twilight series, I went home once and saw a copy of New Moon in my mom’s stuff and I asked her why she was reading the Twilight series?! She’d picked it up thinking it was all a love story and didn’t catch it’s about vampires. LOL

      We have the same to read list. I have read all the Twilight books, and I bought Wicked to read that after seeing the musical in Madison last fall. I wasn’t into the Harry Potter craze when it first erupted, but I’d like to read through now. I was re-watching the first couple of movies not long ago and started thinking about how J.K. Rowling was able to world build so well and I’d really like to read how she wrote it now.

      P.S. “That’s what I said, ‘booby twaps!'”

  9. Terrific post! For people like me, it’s encouraging to see that this genre and trend are sticking around. I’m nearly done with my WIP, which is Sci-fi and plan to query by September for it. I think for me… I’ve always adored Sci-fi… but THOUGHT I didn’t. LOL! When I first started writing Pendomus, it never even occurred to me that it was going to be Sci-Fi, even though it takes place on another planet. Weird, right? Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t view it as “only” that, because it has taken on a life of its own and to me, genre blended well.

    Thanks for the food for thought

    BTW- Christopher Pike fans FTW! 😉

    1. I was trying to convince a few of my friends last night to make a one time Christopher Pike book club with me, but to no avail. They don’t know what they’re missing!

  10. Great article! I also love how sci fi has exploded in ALL forms of media especially online. It’s so great that people who are interested in sci-fi have a sense of community through websites like scifinal.com, sciencefictionbuzz and Beckinfield.com (online acting website with sci-fi plot)!

    1. That’s cool, do you participate in those communities? What do they do, is it all bloggers?

  11. Scifinal and science fiction buzz are places I go to hear about new trends in the sci fi world and talk to other people interested in in sci fi. Beckinfield.com is a mass participation TV web series with a sci-fi plot. It’s really cool because the plot is emailed out each week and people can create their own character and upload videos. The website is http://www.beckinfield.com!

  12. Dad’s a big Star Trek fan. He could literally recite the “Space…the final frontier” in tandem with the narrator. Sci-fi growth is just about people’s needs being addressed, I think. It’s just that their voice is finally getting listened to.

  13. […] Sometimes it feels like Science Fiction is invading every aspect of our lives from books to movies to unusual aspects of television shows. Jess Witkins looks into this topic in The Growing Trend of Sci-Fi. […]

  14. I really liked this post, but I am kind of curious as to why you grouped the paranormal genre in with sci fi? Obviously I see them as two very different literary, and otherwise, lines of creation. Just wondering?

    1. I think they are different and I believe in most paranormal cases. However, you have to admit that it has become more mainstream with shows like Being Human and Ghost Whisperer and Paranormal State. A lot of those shows are aired on the sci-fi channel. They combine with other elements that include them like vampires and werewolves in some cases. And it could be that people who are interested in sci-fi are also interested in the paranormal. I think they are complimentary genres.

      1. OK, I’ll that! Thanks

        1. Let’s try that again! OK, I’ll buy that. My fingers just work fast then my brain sometimes. Scary!

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