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Science fiction is one of the most popular branches in the modern literature. At the same time, the origin of science fiction literature dates back to ancient times, when ancient writer attempted to represent their ideas in fictional forms and unite these fictional forms with their knowledge of the real life. In the course of time, the science fiction literature evolved consistently but it remained always focused on the representation of ideas, concepts and beliefs of writers, which were different from those that dominated in the real life but which were often closely intertwined with the real life or represented an alternative to various real life issues, problems and beliefs. As a result, the science fiction is an extremely rich genre of literature, which allows writers to develop new concepts and ideas and present them in the literary form as an alternative vision of the real life presented by the writers. In this respect, it is possible to refer to science fiction literary works created by outstanding writers, such as George Orwell or Robert Sheckley, who created numerous science fiction literary works, which proved to be not only routine science fiction books but they were also a sort philosophic works created by writer to convey their ideas and warn the mankind about risks that accompanied the development of the contemporary civilization.
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The major characteristics of science fiction literature
In actuality, science fiction is a very popular branch in the contemporary literature. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the emergence of science fiction literature is closely intertwined with the technological progress of the world, which stimulates science fiction writers to create new works, where they depict fictional worlds that derive from the ongoing progress of science and technology. At the same time, science fiction literary works do not necessarily involve a solid scientific basis on the ground of which a science fiction book is written. What is meant here is the fact that science and technology are not necessary for the creation of a science fiction literary work. Instead, the desire of a writer to present an alternative view or concept is crucial because it is through the creation of a fictional, science fiction story, the writer can express his or her alternative view or concept.
In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that science and technology are important for the development of science fiction literature but they are not crucial. What is meant here is the fact that science and technology rather give science fiction writers an insight, an idea to create the form in which writers put certain content or message, which they want to convey to the audience. In fact, they use scientific discoveries and technologies as tools with the help of which they construct their science fiction stories and write their books, in which they convey their ideas and concepts.
In fact, science and technology is not the core of science fiction books. Instead, science fiction writers use science and technology to foresee the further development of the world or to present their alternative vision of the development of the world, as well as potential threats the mankind can face in the future. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the genre of anti-utopia in science fiction literature, which impact is particularly strong on works of Orwell and Sheckley as well.
In such a way, science fiction literary works focus mainly on the development of alternative ideas, views, and concepts. Science fiction writers attempt to pose and answer the question what if and in the course of their works they suggest their ideas on the alternative development of the world, society, technologies and so on. Thus, science fiction literary works represent a kind of blend of fact and fancy, where science and technology are facts that lay the foundation on the ground of which writers develop their fancies and create their fancied world, which are different from the real world and the real life.
On analyzing the development of science fiction literary works in the 20th century, it is hardly possible to ignore works created by George Orwell, whose contribution in the development of science fiction literature at large and anti-utopia in particular can hardly be underestimated. In this respect, it is possible to refer to one of the most popular and renowned works written by George Orwell, “1984”. “1984” by George Orwell may be viewed as a classical example of a science fiction literary work because the entire work represents the vision of the new world fancied by George Orwell on the premise that the entire world has entered a new stage of its development, when the totalitarian regime establishes and rules the world. In fact, the author shows how the technologically advanced society is doomed to moral degradation, when the totalitarian regime establishes the rules of the life of the entire society, when people are not able or willing to learn the truth, where they cannot speak freely and they cannot express their ideas and share them with each other.
In this regard, George Orwell does not create just a fictional world. Instead, he constructs the new world on the ground of the totalitarian regimes that existed in Europe during World War II and in the post-war time. In such a way, his science fiction story is based on the analysis of the current situation, past and forecasts concerning the future society made by the author in his book. What is meant here is the fact that George Orwell created his “1984” as a warning to the society concerning the risk of neglecting democratic rights and liberties and oppression of individuals by the state. The fancied world created by George Orwell depicts vividly horrors of the totalitarian regime and total control over the life and behavior of individuals. The author shows clearly that the total surveillance and control lead to the degradation of the society, deprivation of basic humanistic values and the establishment of a severe regime, where individuals play the role of puppets, mechanisms performing a set of functions conditioned by the state. In such a context, the equality and happiness promoted by the ruling elite are ironic, taking into consideration the privileged position of the ruling class depicted by the author in his book. At this point, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that this fictional book implies the real world and the existing social injustice and inequality, which the author criticizes and condemns in his science fiction book through the image of the Big Brother and the ruling party.
On the other hand, the book depicts Great Britain, London ruined by the war which goes on permanently. In this regard, the author attempts to forecast the effects of World War III on the world and the life of the society. No wonder he reminds that “who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past” (Orwell, 2). Therefore, the author depicts his vision of the alternative development of the world, if the world slips toward totalitarianism and oppression of basic human rights and liberties.
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Orwell’s “Animal Farm”
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell is another science fiction literary work which is, to a certain extent, similar to “1984” in terms of the critical analysis and condemnation of the totalitarian regime and society. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that “Animal Farm” is the allegoric representation of the rise and establishment of Communist in the world in terms of the particular farm where animals rise against the rule of humans and establish their own state. In actuality, the allegory was not a mere fancy of George Orwell. Instead, the book was based on the analysis of the Communist regime in the USSR conducted by George Orwell. He analyzed critically the utopian ideals of communism and represented it as animalism in his novel. In such a way, his science fiction book represents a combination of facts and fancy for the actual totalitarian regime and ideology influencing the development of the contemporary world was depicted critically, if not to say sarcastically, by the author in his “Animal Farm”.
Similarly to “1984”, George Orwell depicts the slip of the society toward totalitarianism. In fact, the author shows the negative impact of totalitarianism on the life of an individual. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that his allegoric society in “Animal Farm” as well as the fancied society in “1984” mirror actual totalitarian regimes existing in the world, when both novels were written.
Sheckley’s “Status Civilization”
George Orwell was a representative of the anti-utopian trends in science fiction literature in the 20th century. At the same time, his ideas influenced works of other writers. In this regard, Robert Sheckley was, to a certain extent, similar to George Orwell because he used science fiction literary works to depict his vision of the life of the society in the future. His “Status Civilization” is a particularly noteworthy science fiction literary work in terms of the depiction of the new type of society by the author.
Unlike George Orwell, who depicts drawbacks and horrors of the totalitarian state, Robert Sheckley shows two sides of the worlds which exists next to each other. In fact, in his book “Status Civilization”, Robert Sheckley juxtaposes two antagonistic poles, two societies established on the similar ground but with a different inclination. To put it more precisely, Sheckley depicts Omega, where people has developed the cult of Evil, where they have to kill, steal and commit other crimes to make sense of their life and to worship the cult of Evil, whereas the Earth is a degrading planet, where people live in a presumably just world, where all people are equal and happy. In this regard, the Earth depicted by Robert Sheckley in his “Status Civilization” reminds George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” with its fundamental principle: “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”. In “Status Civilization”, people inhabiting the Earth are not really equal and the society is not really just because people may live in poverty and believe that they belong to the middle-class, which they define as the low-middle class, for instance. At the same time, the society depicted by Sheckley is not a mere fancy of the writer but it mirrors the actual society, divided into distinct classes, where a few people rule, whereas the majority represents the middle class and many live in poverty. In other words, similarly to Orwell’s science fiction literary works, Sheckley’s fancied world has the ground in the real life. Thus, his work is based on facts, which are backed up with fancies Sheckely brings in to show readers prospects of the contemporary society which may slip to degradation and to the life in the world conditioned by robots or to the life in the world where people makes cult of Evil. In such a way, as a science fiction literary work, “Status Civilization” combines facts and fancy.
Sheckley’s “Journey beyond Tomorrow”
The idea of the absurd society, like the society worshiping Evil, can be traced not only in “Status Civilization, but in other works written by Robert Sheckley as well, such as “Journey beyond Tomorrow”. “Journey beyond Tomorrow” is another science fiction work, which depicts the future society, where technologies have reached a high level of development but the society depicted by the author is still full of absurd extremes. For instance, the main character is imprisoned by the existing justice system but freed on the ground of the decision taken by the electronic oracle. In such a way, “Journey beyond Tomorrow” is another science fiction work which shows the alternative view of the writer on the society and the development of the mankind. Sheckley takes facts from the contemporary life and uses his fancy to modify and create the future society, which is totally different from the contemporary one.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that science fiction literary works represent a combination of facts and fancy, where science and technology serve as tools with the help of which science fiction writers depict new worlds and new societies. Often writers depict their vision of the future society. Anyway, they create a fictional world, where the fancy is closely intertwined with some real facts taken from the real life but they are modified to the extent that the outcomes of writers’ fancies make the society and world described unique and different from real ones. At the same time, science fiction literary works represent views and ideas of science fiction writers, who attempt to create alternatives to the real world, where impossible is possible. On the other hand, many science fiction works, like “1984” and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell or “Status Civilization” by Robert Sheckely, warn the public against the development of negative trends in the contemporary society and the prevention of potential risks and threats to the normal life of individuals in the future.
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