The Evolution of Wonder: Sci-Fi Since 1902

By  · Published on September 8th, 2017

115 years of science fiction and we’re still obsessed with the same things.

Science fiction is perhaps our society’s most beloved genre. Romances and dramas and comedies may be more successful, sure, but science fiction has more concentrated passion behind it than any of them. Its ability to retain imagination and wonder regardless of reality is a hopeful quality. Believing that genetically-altered psychics, flying cars, or lifelike androids are just around the corner is an optimistic act, even if the stories hosting them often damn their present era.

Watching sci-fi evolve over time is a sociological exercise. We get to see how humanity’s hopes have changed, and through that, we see how its priorities have changed. Robots were important to us post-Industrialization, during the hyper-capitalist ‘80s, and during the tech revolution. Clones had their heyday and may be coming back into style. The movies of the time can be more telling than history books.

Editor Iban Corominas created a video documenting a selected handful of sci-fi films from 1902, tracking the genre’s development alongside that of cinema. Undervalued gems like Village of the Damned and a few classic Jeff Goldblum appearances make the cut, but the real star here is the evolving interest of society at large reflected in their fantasies.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).