Does anyone associate different types of sci fi with certain decades?


Active Member
Dec 25, 2019
For some reason sci fi with aliens, lasers, and FTL starships like "Mass Effect", "Star Trek TNG", and "The Fifth Element feel like sci fi that came from the 90s.

As someone who was just a young child during the mid to late 90s I view that decade through rose colored glasses.

Sci fi with corporate, military themes, and utilitarian looking spaceships like "Avatar", "Eve Online", and "Battlestar Galactica definitely feel like sci fi that comes from the 2000s.

Isn't sci fi reflective of the time period they are made in?

"The Expanse" feels like 2000s sci fi at it's best.


Active Member
Feb 5, 2022
The Pacific Northwest
I definitely see TNG as a product of the '90s---it just screams that decade, as does Voyager. But I never thought of Mass Effect as particularly tied to that decade; it always struck me as an example of a continuous thread in sci-fi---big space-opera universes with grand galactic empires, lots of aliens, and cool spaceships---that is also represented by more recent games like Stellaris. Likewise, megacorporations in sci-fi go back long before Avatar. Just look at another James Cameron movie, Aliens, for a distinctly '80s flavor of corporations, military themes, and utilitarian-looking spaceships!

I've always thought of it as something like a snowball. The genre rolls downhill and picks up layers of different ideas and tropes with each passing decade. While the older material might not be at the surface, it's still there, and as the Foundation and Dune adaptations show, there remains plenty of appetite for it.

At least, that's what I hope for, LOL. I tend to write old-school sci-fi, not the cutting edge.


Dec 10, 2012
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
If you are talking about film and tv then yes they do seem to be in periods.
Much of this has to do with media technology and general attitude toward the genre. This happens in a lot of genre. If you look at the old Superman tv and the newer movies or the old Batman tv and the new grim dark movies and tv it is quite self explanatory.

However if you start looking at novels and written media then the thing that dates them is more than likely the mores of the time leaking into the future stories. In much the same way the mores of our time can cause a reader to date older novels by contrast with present cultural perspectives. Still there are some novels that survive for quite a long time because the extrapolations are well ahead of their time. --Until they are not--.Jules Verne novels are the best example of this type of writing


Oct 23, 2008
TNG began in the 80s.

I don't know about tv/movies so much, but in print, the 30s could be seen as BEMs and blasters, the 40s was Campbellian, the 50s were Galaxy-style social satire, the 60s were New Wave, the 70s were Labor Day Group doldrums, the 80s were cyberpunk, the 90s were the New Wave of British Space Opera, and I dunno what the hell the last couple of decades have been and I couldn't characterize them printably, regardless, but I'm sure they've been something. It's actually even narrower than that, in that people tended to cluster in half-decade groups. John Varley was more anticipatory of 80s cyberpunk than any continuation of the earlier 70s and, rather than the beginning, 1984's Neuromancer almost marks the end of first generation cyberpunk which had been bubbling up in short form for years and even done by Sterling at novel-length in 1980 with The Artificial Kid. But the problem with any of this is that no period is really monolithic and even elements of those periods weren't--Campbell and Galaxy both published a lot of different things besides what is generally taken to be their "typical" stories and Cadigan and Sterling and others published a lot of things that weren't pure-quill cyberpunk. So there's usually a dominant motif but it's important not to falsify history and erase all the exceptions to the rules.


This world is not my home
Oct 11, 2006
I'm not sure there is any style which personifies a particular decade in S.F. But when we look back on books and movies, even SF ones, they usually don't age well because it is obvious that the concepts and conflicts belong to a certain decade's cutting edge. The last cluster of stories had a lot of female leads and equity, either assumed or striven for. This decade is going more apocalyptic mainly with environmental issues, but also a bit more of the autocratic governments than we may have seen before. --- Which of course reflects the educated elite's concerns.