A genre is a category or type of literature, such as fiction or poetry. Each genre can be subdivided into more specific categories that can be identified by subject matter, content, or style. Identifying the genre of a selection helps a reader to establish expectations for the work.
Readers can understand the genre of a literary work by analyzing its characteristics. As you read “A Sound of Thunder,” notice the clues that reveal the common elements of science fiction.
Damon Knight, author, editor, critic, and founder of the Science Fiction Writers of America, once attempted to quantify the elements of science fiction.
He came up with the following list derived from a number of previously published formal definitions of science fiction:
technology and invention
the future and the remote past, including all time travel stories
extrapolation (speculation based on signs or omens)
other places--planets, dimensions, etc., including visitors from the above
catastrophes, natural or manmade
Knight concluded that a story with at least three of the above elements is generally perceived to be science fiction; stories with two elements were borderline; stories with one or no elements were not science fiction.
Although the term science fiction was not used until about 1930, science fiction tales have been told since before the invention of writing. One of the earliest science fiction writers was Lucian of Samosata who, around 100 BC, wrote a fantasy about a journey to the moon. Modern science fiction began to take shape in the nineteenth century.
Science fiction is defined loosely as fiction that deals with the impact of science and technology on the world. Sometimes the technology is real, sometimes it is entirely imagined, and sometimes it has been imagined by an author and then brought to reality by scientists. Science fiction themes often warn of the potential for disaster when technology is abused.
“Who controls the past controls the future.”
In the following short story, Ray Bradbury implies that seemingly insignificant actions can change the future for an entire generation.