Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals, or more generally, literary fantasy including a scientific factor as an essential orienting component. Precursors of the genre include Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). From its beginnings in the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, it emerged as a self-conscious genre in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories, founded in 1926. It came into its own as serious fiction in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction in the late 1930s and in works by such writers as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein. A great boom in popularity followed World War II, when numerous writers' approaches included predictions of future societies on Earth, analyses of the consequences of interstellar travel, and imaginative explorations of intelligent life in other worlds. Much recent fiction has been written in the “cyberpunk” genre, which deals with the effects of computers and artificial intelligence on anarchic future societies. Radio, film, and television have reinforced the popularity of the genre.
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Continuity is particularly a concern in the production of film and television due to the difficulty of rectifying an error in continuity after shooting has completed. It also applies to other art forms, including novels, comics, anime, videogames and animation, though usually on a smaller scale.
Most productions have a script supervisor on hand whose job is to pay attention to and attempt to maintain continuity across the chaotic and typically non-linear production shoot. This takes the form of a large amount of paperwork, photographs, and attention to and memory of large quantities of detail, some of which is sometimes assembled into the story bible for the production. It usually regards factors both within the scene and often even technical details including meticulous records of camera positioning and equipment settings. The use of a Polaroid camera was standard but has since been replaced by the advent of digital cameras. All of this is done so that ideally all related shots can match, despite perhaps parts being shot thousands of miles and several months apart. It is a less conspicuous job, though, because if done perfectly, no one will ever notice.
In comic books, continuity has also come to mean a set of contiguous events, sometimes said to be "set in the same universe" (see fictional crossover and fictional universe) or "separate universes" (see intercompany crossover).
Today, maintaining strong plot and character continuity is also a high priority for many writers of long-running television series.
An example of an editing error can be seen in the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), where a scene of people climbing a slope at the start is seen from below and then replayed from above.
One example of a visual error occurs in the 1998 film Waking Ned Devine, when two of the film's characters, Jackie and Michael, are walking through a storm towards Ned's house. The umbrella they are under is black during their conversation as they walk towards the house (filmed from slightly above and to the front); yet after cutting to a lower shot (filmed from behind Jackie), Michael walks onscreen from the right holding an umbrella that is not black but beige, with a brown band at the rim.
Though visual continuity errors are logically confined to visual media, parallel mistakes can occur in text. In "The Miller's Tale" in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales a door is ripped off its hinges only to be slowly closed again in the next scene.
Discrepancies in past continuity are sometimes made deliberately; this is known as retconning. Retcons are also sometimes used to either correct or cover up a perceived error. These changes may be made either by the same writer who made it, or more commonly by an author that has taken over the creative lead of a corporate owned show or publication..