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Science Fiction Differences Between Britain And America

1484 words - 6 pages

“Live long and prosper” may be the words which bring back good memories for the average geek in America but this may not be the case for a typical British geek. This is despite the fact that science fiction series in television have been hugely popular in both the U.S. and the U.K. all throughout history. After the 1960s, ‘New Wave’ science fiction began to take over television screens. ‘New Wave’ refers to science fiction which was characterized by a high degree of experimentation (Wolfe). It was during this time when the U.S and the U.K started to telecast science fiction series which had a huge impact on society. Star Trek became the forefront of American science fiction series in television while British science fiction series could be best represented by Doctor Who, a hugely successful production which started in 1963 and still runs today. Both nations revolutionized the way science fiction was shared and interpreted, being the leaders behind this ‘New Wave’. Yet, the unique socio-cultural differences between both societies lead to slightly differing tracks of science fiction television series.
The influence which both sets of series had on the media and society is unremarkable. One of the most prominent series in the U.K., Doctor Who, is the longest running science fiction show in the world. The show was so successful that many science fiction spin-off series emerged throughout the show’s history. Examples include other hugely successful science fiction series such as The Sarah Janes Aventures and Torchwood. Star Trek’s success has made it a cult phenomenon, spawning many references in pop-culture and the construction of the Klingon language (used by a certain species called Klingons in the series) (Day). The series was the inspiration behind many modern day technologies such as the mobile phone (the crew’s communicator) and even the iPod (shuffle music technology was first documented on Star Trek). Other American series such as Star Wars also had similar success stories spawning various movies, games, comics and even theme parks.
Majority of the plots in American science fiction series like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek tend to revolve around the themes of interplanetary disputes and wars. Star Trek’s themes were somewhat parallel to historical events which were happening in the late 19th century. Star Trek was developed during the start of the Cold War and this could explain why similarities could be drawn between Klingons and the Russians as well as Romulans and the Chinese (Klingons and Romulans were races from different planets in Star Trek). The line To boldly go where no man has gone beforeis a phrase which was taken off a report based on the 1957 Sputnik flight and recurred in the title sequence of Star Trek, and can be said to represent America’s involvement in the space race at the height of the Cold War. Roddenberry explained that science fiction series were made not to advocate wars but to foster peace between nations....

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