I love classic Science Fiction works, and I really love Gothic literature. For some time I have thought of the two genres as being wildly dissimilar: Whereas Gothic lit. is characterized by creepy, old dark things and death, Sci-Fi is concerned with uncharted new things. But are they really so different?
After giving it some thought, I realized the supernatural ghosts and demons of Gothic literature often correspond to the uncanny abilities of Sci-Fi aliens. The creepy castles and foreboding forests of Gothic lit. are similar to the unknown worlds of Sci-Fi, and there is a theme of exploration of unknown worlds or beings that pervade both genres.
The highly revered Sci-Fi author, Ray Bradbury, tapped into this understanding of the similarities between Gothic and Science Fiction in many of his works. One of his biggest inspirations was none other than the famous Gothic poet and author, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe, and allusions to him and his work, often show up in Bradbury’s writings. One of the most overt examples is a short story by Bradbury called Usher II, which borrowed the name, setting, and plot of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, but with a definite Sci-Fi twist including robots, Mars, and a futuristic government.
So keep this in mind next time you find yourself reading either genre (which better be soon): While Gothic literature may be focused on the past, and Science Fiction undoubtedly is fixed on the future, both genres tap into our very human fears of the unknown and unexplainable.