Currently, science fiction, in all its forms, is enjoying enormous popular interest. There can be no doubt that science fiction books and films have great influence on the public view of science and scientists. The authors examine the historical development of science fiction as a genre, tracing its roots, exploring its relationship to 'real' science and attempting to assess its cultural impact. Discussion focuses on major themes such as time travel, politics, religion, ecology and disasters. In addition, the image of the scientist, presented variously as a 'Dr Frankenstein' figure and as a 'regular guy', is drawn out and examined. Throughtout their discussions the authors draw extensively upon the whole range of science fiction.