Science fiction is a form of fiction in which the plot is tied to an extrapolation of our current ideas of science or technology. To be considered science fiction, the science or technology present does not need a real basis in the science of now, but should live in the realm of the distantly possible. This description is helped along by a contrast with the genre of fantasy; both genres operate in speculative settings, but where fantasy concerns itself with characters, worlds and ideas (magic, orcs, combat with swords) considered totally detached from the world we live in now, science fiction (science, extraterrestrials, laser guns) operates in a world we easily imagine as our own world in the distant, or near, future. One might imagine magic as science we have not wrapped our heads, or imaginations, around yet; the difference between a mage who casts a fire spell, and a glove that generates fire (or a mutation that grants a person the power to safely and spontaneously combust) is subtle, but one that separates the genres. Neither lives in our world, but the character with the fire glove lives in a future we can plausibly imagine.

As we spoke about in class, this plausibility, along with the strangeness of the extrapolation, is what makes science fiction an effective genre for the de-familiarization of our current world, allowing us to see human problems that are always present but to which we are too close to notice.