The Real History of Science Fiction

Common Sense Media says

Fascinating sci-fi docu with some scary imagery.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Science fiction's role in advancing thought and opinion is portrayed positively. The connection between science fiction and the political, economic, social, and scientific themes of the time are discussed. 

Positive role models

The contributions of writers, creators, producers, actors, scientists, engineers, etc. to science fiction range from creatively imagining new worlds to using the genre to question and challenge the way we understand ourselves, our society, and a universe beyond our own.  


Contains film footage of frightening aliens, bloody attacks, and other scary moments. 


Gender identification, procreation, and similar themes discussed. 


Occasional strong words like "ass" and curses like "s--t." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the docuseries The Real History of Science Fiction features interviews, TV, and film footage that will appeal to science fiction fans of all ages, but contains some violent and scary imagery that might be frightening to younger or more sensitive viewers. The series offers lots of informative and educational moments, but discussions about gender identification, race, and other themes may be too complex for younger kids to fully understand. There's some occasional strong language ("ass," "s--t"), too. 

What's the story?

THE REAL HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION is a documentary series that looks at the history of science fiction and its contributions to film, TV, and our overall understanding of science, space, and the human condition. Narrated by Doctor Who's Mark Gatiss, the series looks at the key elements of the science fiction genre: the threat of alien invasion, time travel, space exploration and journeys into the unknown, and the creation of artificial life by joining of technology and humanity. Past and current interviews with writers like Isaac Asimov, creators like Alien's Ann Gale Hurd, actors like Nichelle Nichols, Zoe Saldana, David Tennant, Scott Bakula, Edward James Olmos, and numerous others highlight how science fiction has evolved from thinking about outer space to creating new, sophisticated worlds that challenge the way we look at and understand our own civilization. The impact scientific issues of the day have had on the ongoing transformation of science fiction stories, and the impact science fiction continues to have on the way we think about space, science, and engineering is also discussed. References to key science fiction writings, and video footage of classic and iconic movies and TV shows are part of the story.

Is it any good?


The Real History of Science Fiction offers viewers a chance to learn about and understand the purpose behind science fiction, and the ideas, philosophies, and multi-universe values it represents, from the ability of a TV series like Star Trek to push the boundaries of a changing society to recognizing the spectacular and authentic production of future worlds by filmmakers like Stanley KubrickGeorge Lucas, and James Cameron. It also makes the connections between famous science fiction stories, and the political, economic, social, and scientific issues they reflect and challenge.

It's more informative than action packed, and its attempt to cover so much information limits the depth to which many of these issues are explored. Some may question why certain stories, films, and characters are left out of the discussions, too. But sci-fi buffs will certainly be drawn to it, and the interesting insight and entertaining scenes the series offers gives it some mass appeal. Ultimately, the show offers a thoughtful discussion of how science fiction has encouraged generations to look beyond the familiar, and to think more broadly and creatively about the possibilities of the future. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their favorite science fiction stories. Why do you like them? What are some of the messages these stories send about our world, and the universe beyond? Has there been anything featured in classic sci-fi novels, movies, and TV shows that seemed impossible at the time, but is actually happening now?

  • What has science fiction's role been in forming public opinion about important issues? Did you learn anything about science fiction that surprised you from watching this show?

TV details

Cast:Edward James Olmos, William Shatner
Network:BBC America
Topics:Space and aliens
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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