Science fiction occupies entertainment media

Wizard ninjas using laser swords, giant laser-shooting space balls, time-travelling phone booths and William Shatner beating up fake-looking aliens all have one thing in common: they are all staples of the expansive Science Fiction genre.

The four iconic aspects of the genre listed above — the Jedi, the Death Star, the TARDIS and Captain James T. Kirk — all hail from what I refer to as the Big Three of sci-fi. These three franchises, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Star Trek, are arguably the most successful and popular franchises in all of science fiction, if not in all of fiction altogether.

But sci-fi has expanded past the 12-movie, 5-TV series realm of Star Trek, beyond the ongoing half-century legacy of Doctor Who, farther than the marketing giant that is Star Wars. Science fiction has invaded our culture like an army of Daleks. It has taken over our world like an occupation force of Imperial Stormtroopers.

It is virtually impossible in today’s society to live a life totally free of science fiction. From video games like “Halo” to books like “Ender’s Game” to movies like “Elysium,” sci-fi is present and strong in nearly every aspect of human existence.

Even if one isn’t interested in the genre, it is still difficult to totally avoid science that is fictional. Phrases like “Beam me up, Scotty” (which was never actually spoken in any Star Trek episode or movie), “Luke, I am your father” (The actual quote from “The Empire Strikes Back” is “No. I am your father.”) and “Live Long and Prosper” are among the most famous quotations (or almost-quotations) in modern history. Several sci-fi movies, such as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” are considered classic films, regardless of their fantastical, spaced-out themes.

Fictional works of other genres have sci-fi themes, too. The James Bond franchise, a main tentpole of the spy genre, has many examples of science fiction included in its 23-movie existence. One of the more obvious is a trip to space, complete with laser guns and space stations, in the incredibly long 007 adventure “Moonraker.” Other books and movies, such as the dystopian Hunger Games book trilogy (and future overblown four-movie series), also feature many futuristic gadgets and gizmos.

Even the Big Three of the sci-fi genre are experiencing a new age of popularity. They have all experienced periods of downtime, most notably Doctor Who’s discontinuation from 1989 until 2005, with the break in broadcasting broken only by a (somewhat terrible) 1996 T.V. movie.

However, the Big Three are back in force. The latest Star Trek movie, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” was released with great success last year. The eighth Star Wars movie (counting the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” movie) is scheduled to come out in 2015. “Doctor Who” just finished its 7th season since its 2005 reboot, and Season 8 is generating much anticipation from fans because it will be introducing Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

Why is it that science fiction captures the imagination of society? Perhaps because it is a chance to guess at what the future may have in store for humanity. Perhaps it’s because the genre allows authors, filmmakers and others to express their ideas without being confined by the strict limitations of what humans, as a people, have accomplished up to now. Perhaps it is their way of hoping for what humanity will achieve in years, centuries and millennia to come.

Whatever the reason, science fiction is a strong part of our culture, and as an avid sci-fi enthusiast (the polite name for “nerd”), I am more than happy with that. I hope that the Force can be with the genre so that it can live long and prosper for all time. Even if time isn’t really linear, it’s more like a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey … Oh, nevermind.