Robin Roberts writes: “Modern science fiction begins with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). Shelley’s work began the modern fascination with the scientist and (usually) his works. One of the most popular novels and ideas of the past two centuries, Frankenstein has the distinction of being the only single-authored text to become a myth. The word ‘Frankenstein’ has become a part of the English language and is frequently [-p.16] used to describe the monster, or any creature created by science that is out of control of its creator. Subsequent science fiction was popular throughout the Victorian era in both England and the United States. For example, a belief in science and its ability to improve human existence marks such works as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888), a utopia set in the future that was so popular that there were even Looking Back clubs. At the same time, pessimism about social change and industrialization defines such works as Edward Bulwer Lytton’s The Coming Race (1871), which ends with the threat of a new species usurping humanity’s rule of the Earth. At the end of the nineteenth century, H.G. Wells looked toward the immense changes that science would bring and used science fiction to criticize British colonialism in novels like The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898).
The twentieth century has seen the flourishing of science fiction magazines. The production of cheap paper from wood pulp made magazines inexpensive – such journals were known as the pulps. Especially in the United States, such magazines flourished, in part because they pirated works by European and English authors. Both art and fiction were commissioned for the pulps at very cheap rates. Sometimes an artist would create a cover and then a writer would pen a story that fit the artwork. In the 1940s and 1950s, science fiction magazines helped create what many critics and writers call the ‘Golden Age’ of science fiction. Writers like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke began their careers writing for these magazines.
Many female science fiction writers, like C.L. Moore and Leigh Bracken, used male or genderless pseudonyms (false names). …More recently, science fiction has experienced other trends, such as the New Wave movement of the 1960s, which stresses that science fiction should be taken seriously as literature, and includes elements of 1960s counterculture – drugs, sex, and the media. Cyberpunk, a school of science fiction writing that became popular in the 1980s, focuses on futures in which large global industrial and political units control society and rely on computer networks. In this future, humans are altered to interface with and become part of computer technology.” (15-16)
Ref: Robin Roberts (1996) Anne McCaffrey; A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT