Analysing science fiction


When you are asked to analyse science fiction texts in class - or choose to do so when writing an assignment - there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Of course, most of the general advice about fiction analysis will also be relevant for your work - for example, it is probably a good idea to talk about characters and themes - but there are also some things that are uniquely relevant for science fiction analysis.

On a basic level, it may be interesting to study the genre traits that define your chosen story as science fiction, such as the use of a future setting or the presence of advanced technology. On a more advanced level, it will often be especially relevant to focus your interpretation on the social commentary that the author is trying to make about contemporary society. In addition, there are a number of literary themes that tend to be particularly common within the science fiction genre, because it offers a unique perspective on them. 

Science fiction as social commentary

Many science fiction stories have messages that are intended as some sort of commentary on the current state of the world. When you analyse and interpret a science fiction story, it is therefore interesting to examine whether such a message is intended, and how it comes across.

If you are working with a dystopian science fiction story, it is highly likely that it is intended as some kind of cautionary tale, warning against developments in modern society that could potentially lead in a harmful direction. An obvious example of this might be climate change: it is generally agreed that climate change is damaging our planet and will continue to do so until major ch...

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