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Science Fiction’s Next Generation: Improbable Heroes Made Possible

Science fiction, by definition, is a genre that deals with imaginary yet plausible ideas. Yet, as the human race advances and we make greater discoveries, it can often be self-prophesising. Ideas that would once be considered science ‘fiction’ are becoming actuality; our everyday lives are impregnated by technology that would have once been thought implausible.

Fantastical as science fiction may seem, we can learn from it – there is always more to be discovered. With the Higgs Boson being hailed as the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century, science fiction inspires us and allows us to believe that the possibilities are endless.

Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, whilst imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Enter, science fiction.

It has always had a keen following of the genre but it has often been the victim of stereotyping: for boys, by boys and, crucially, about boys. This is a common myth and it now permeates our mainstream existence.

Contrary to popular belief, science fiction does have a widespread appeal – it’s not “just for boys”! Doctor Who has reached highs of 13.31 million viewers, however, the doctor’s assistant is just as integral to the story. It’s not just the heroes but also the heroines: Alien’s Ripley; The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen; The Fifth Element’s Leeloo; perhaps even The Wizard of Oz’s own Dorothy Gale!

There will always be the classics: Pratchett, Adams and Wells will always remain in the canon of science fiction, with their sales solid and popularity unwavering. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has sold more than 16 million copies and counting. But what of the future?

Talk of economic doom and gloom is impossible to avoid, and book sales have not escaped unscathed. But don’t let this fool you completely. With the recession comes different selling and spending habits. Sales figures are not truly reflective of reality. The market is changing. Technology is changing. Enter the eReader!

The eReader brought the opportunity to download literature free of charge, books became cheaper and more easily accessible. Bundling is an innovative concept that has led to stores selling books combined with an ecopy – in one store alone, the sales of one publication tripled. Expect more stores to jump on the bundling bandwagon as sales of eReaders soar.

Amazon says sales have now overtaken books with 114 Kindles being sold to every 100 books. Sales of ebooks rose by 366% in 2011 to £92 million.

When times are hard, staying in is the new going out. Purchases shift to forms of “at home entertainment”. And what better way to evade reality than through science fiction? It provides a form of escapism like no other.

Science fiction fans have a wider choice and a greater voice. Recently, the Singularity & Co Campaign kick-started a ‘Save the Sci-Fi’ crusade to bring out-of-print science fiction books back into circulation. It was met by 1,392 backers pledging $52,276 (far exceeding the original goal of $15,000).

Donors were able to vote on a publication to be resurrected as an eBook every month. Fans are gaining control of what they read and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are helping them to share their passion.

As well as looking to resurrect the classics, readers are able to seek new heroes. The battle for survival is at science fiction’s core and it is constantly regenerating to ensure its own survival (much like The Doctor). Classics are being brought from the brink of their demise and new writers to the forefront of the field.

Science fiction aficionados should look to the next frontier. With technological progress, we can venture so much further. So I invite you to delve into a new world, meeting science fiction’s newest star, and follow the adventures of Nana Barb; a grandmother being no more implausible as a hero than any area of science fiction. Science fiction is, like the human race, constantly evolving and taking us to new and unexpected places, and you can get there too by visiting www.facebook.com/NanaBarbBook.