“Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself… science fiction is central to everything we've ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don't know what they're talking about.”


These are the words of American author Ray Bradbury, the creative mind behind Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and The Veldt among many other genre defining works. His ideas and sentiment surrounding the science-fiction genre defend it from the anti-nerd and anti-imaginary collective of readers. This statement rightfully positions the science-fiction genre as a method of introspection and reflection for all of humanity.


Here at Olympia Publishers, we are proud of the plethora of sci-fi titles we publish - get taken on interstellar quests, encounter dystopian disasters and explore futuristic society.


In such a diverse genre, it is difficult to pin down what the first science-fiction novel is: scholars argue that A True Story written by Syrian author Lucian of Samosata in the second century AD is the earliest example of a science-fiction text, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, first published in 1818, defined the genre at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and H.G. Wells’ work, published in the late 1800s, built such strong foundations for the science-fiction genre that every author and artist since has been inspired by his words.


H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was serialised in the UK’s Pearson’s Magazine and in the USA’s Cosmopolitan, enticing readers with cliffhangers and engaging them in a narrative of invasion, destruction and despair. It was a ‘realist’ and terrifying world painted by H.G. Wells to an audience who had never witnessed flight, television and knew very little about the night sky. To the audience of the time, The War of the Worlds was a book unlike any other.



Today, in 2024, in The War of the World’s 126th year of continuous publication, Wells’ descriptions are just as vivid and frightening - a stark warning to the frailty of humankind. At the time of writing, the British Empire was still colonising the world, theories of human evolution were in their infancy but yet the ideas of race and culture still stand to this present day. The slow unravelling of the Martian’s initial landing, at the time due to few channels of communication and glacial printing in newspapers, is still believable in a modern world of fake news and AI generation. The master of H.G. Wells is how his science-fiction is fundamentally timeless, with ideas easily adaptable across generations.


The 1989 science-fiction film Back to the Future Part II - perhaps itself inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine - catapulted protagonist Marty McFly thirty years into ‘the future’. That future was 2015, which at the time of writing, was almost a decade ago. The hover-boards, self-tying laces and 3-D holograms are not a staple of our modern society, therefore dating the film in a time where forward-thinkers incorrectly predicted our present time. Obviously, we can still enjoy films set in our time with a science-fiction spin - a recent literary example is the contemporary-set Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. However, science-fiction at its best is a discussion of ideas and issues, designed to help our modern society better understand itself.


Science-fiction is the genre of the future. It is a wonderfully creative tool that allows us to imagine a better world - or to fear a dystopian one. We are constantly moving into the future. In fact this sentence is set in the future, in relation to the previous one. And this one. And this one too. We are in constant need of those who look forward and imagine a new world, imagine where we could be and what society would be like. Science-fiction gives us that opportunity.


I’ll leave with you a quote from Warcross by Marie Lu: “Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.”