Is Lost sci-fi?


Given the amazing success of the Lost show, many hardcore anti-sci-fi viewers are anxious to disprove the theory that Lost is, infact, science fiction. They’d never watch something has geeky as that!

Welcome to the USA 2005. Television has changed. For the most part, it’s even worse than it was before, but there are a few gems. For a sci-fi show to survive in this day and age, it can’t be about an Enterprise flying through space at unsafe velocities. Oh no, America is far too “cool” for that. Instead, those clever sci-fi shows that are making a stand are telling different stories. It is sad, perhaps, that the 1960 stories of wonder about places beyond our imaginations have been replaced with a few guys on an island. But I suppose that’s the way of things.

Many Lost fans admit the show could fall under the science fiction genre, others protest! “There’s no aliens!” “They’re not in space!” “Where are the Klingons?” Neither side is winning by a particularly impressive margin, so let’s look for a moment at what exactly sci-fi is.

Using as our definition source, we see that “science-fiction” is defined as:

A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.

So clearly, something becomes science fiction if any of those items are present. We can rule out space travel and life on other planets. However, speculative scientific discoveries? Interesting.

One could easily argue that Lost represents a what-if scenario, where a plane crashes on an uncharted Pacific island. What if, on this island, animals from prehistoric times managed to survive. Is that a speculative scientific discovery? I think so.

Environmental changes? Certainly the environment of the people through whom we see the island has changed, but does that really count as an environmental change? Unlikely. Taking this to mean – is there something about the environment itself that has changed from normal to paranormal. Black smoke anyone? Whispers in the forest? Sounds a bit out of the ordinary to me.

The truth is, Lost shows us things that just don’t usually happen. Hidden hatches, ships mysteriously lying ship-wrecked inland? In my opinion, Lost does cover some of the definition points for sci-fi, and I think therefore that it is part of a sub-genre of science fiction. Perhaps now that genre is too vague. With one whole genre covering castaways on a strange island to a flying Phone Box zipping through time, maybe we need something more specific.

Essentially however, Lost is sci-fi. Sci-fi isn’t what you might think.

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