Milestones in science fiction history that show the development of alien imposters, urban dystopias and urban clones from purely earthly concerns.
From Earth to the Moon (1865) Jules Verne
Verne is considered as the father of SF. This story centres round the Baltimore Gun Club which is driven by all things relating to guns. They decide to build a ship that can be fired into space from a gun and collect funds from round the world, except for the UK who are accused of being jealous of the scientific developments in the USA, to fund their project. The story ends with the ship shooting off into space.
The War of the Worlds (1897 - 98) H G Wells
This was a satire of the invasion genre resulting from the Franco-Prussian War which spawned tales of invasion of southern England by the Germans, French and Russians.
R.U.R. (1921) Karel Capek
Czech writer Karel Capek was the first to coin the name 'robot' which came from the robota which means forced labour. This was the heyday of Fordism when machines were revolutionising manufacturing.
The story is centred round a factory, Rossum's Universal Robots who manufacture artificial people to work for humans. The machines however, learn to think for themselves and launch a revolution.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) dir Don Siegel
This story in film reflects the obsession at the time with communism and the tendency to see 'reds under the bed' at every turn. There was even reference to Senator McCarthy and totalitarianism.
The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) Ursula K Le Guin
One of the most famous lines from the book was 'The King is pregnant'. In the story Le Guin explores an alien world named Winter, on which the people are ambisexual. Once a month, for mating purposes, they can choose to be male or female, but their genders are not fixed.
The story explores the social movements of the 60s and 70s and science fictions potential to question the way things are.
Neuromancer (1984) William Gibson
Gibson has often been described as the man who foresaw the invention of the internet and coined the term 'cyberspace'. The story is about a computer hacker commissioned to commit the perfect crime and was partly inspired by the arcades filled with space invader games operated by youngsters who sported glazed, absorbed expressions.
If you delve into SF writing it is possible in many cases to establish from whence the inspiration for such stories has sprung. I haven't mentioned long running TV series Dr Who, or the Star Wars films but they too have their place.
My own excursion into the future also sprang from 'real life' and is available below.
This is a dystopian story that hinges directly on the state of the nation as a result of fiscal mismanagement. Having said that it is more a story of human relations, privations, love and loss.