“What is Science Fiction?” is a question I find myself answering rather often when I tell friends and acquaintances what I read in my free time. And, each time I answer this question, I don’t respond in quite the same way. Each one of my responses force me to try and encapsulate the most recent text into my “theoretical” understanding of the genre.

Responding today with Orson Welles’ text in mind, Science Fiction as culture is simply a lens, more than anything else, through which an audience comes to terms with an imagined future reality projected forward from a trajectory interpreted in the present day life. It is an imagining of the future completely dependent on the social/technological/spiritual (and so on) currents of the moment. Yet, to effectively hold the attention of that audience, all aspects of the text must still remain within the realm of the logical and must make themselves engaging. For example, taken from the Wikipedia definition of Science Fitction, Robert A. Heinlein describes this well, “the problem itself – ‘the plot’ – must be a human problem”. That is, to engage the audience the fiction part of SF must still remain grounded in the normality that everyday human life offers.

All three media forms of The War of the Worlds: the novel, film, and radio broadcast ground themselves in norms and social expectations of what was commonplace in that time period. Humans were being humans whether they were fleeing the flash of a heat-ray or simply being curious about an unidentified object. This is what gives SF its force as a genre, it is a relatable (not always distant) future narrative into which one carries all the complexities of the present.