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 (although some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities. The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality. These may include:
- A setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record
- A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens
- Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature
- Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed)
One of the most distinguishing features of science fiction as opposed to fantasy is technology. So while The War of the Worlds, a novel where aliens from Mars attack Earth with advanced technology, is science fiction, The Chronicles of Narnia, a series where magic is prevalent, but technology is in medieval times, is fantasy.
See science fiction for a list of science fiction books on the wiki.
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