21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science Fiction

Science fiction is the genre of ideas — but it's also given us some unforgettable pictures along the way. Every era in science fiction's history has shown us a new vision of the strange and futuristic, and one image can spawn a million reflections in your mind's eye.

Here are 21 unforgettable pictures that showcase the whole history of science fiction.

Top image: the iconic Transporter effect from the original Star Trek.

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

1. A Trip to the Moon (1902) - based on the novels From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells, Georges Méliès created this image of humans reaching our only natural satellite.

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

2. Thomas Edison's Frankenstein (1910) - the first real science fiction novel became one of the first movies ever made, by the man who helped put electricity in everyone's home

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

3. Metropolis (1927) - Just seven years after the play Rossum's Universal Robots, Maria the robot seduced the workers — and the world.

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

4. Lensmen by E.E. "Doc" Smith (1937), and the rise of Golden Age science fiction pulps

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

5. Superman (1938) - the first real superhero, and the alien who captured our imaginations

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science Fiction

6. Foundation (1942) - Isaac Asimov invents psychohistory and cements science fiction as the genre of the technocrat. Image by Michael Whelan

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

7. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) - the first 1950s paranoia movie is also the most thoughtful, and the iconography of Klaatu's ship and Gort helped define a decade

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

8. Godzilla (1954) - the Kaiju era begins, and the fear of atomic destruction has its poster creature

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

9. Forbidden Planet (1956) - Robby the Robot became the most famous of the 1950s robots, coinciding with the rise of space age "Googie" style

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - There are so many great images in Kubrick's film, but the scenes of weightlessness, and the panic of floating out of the airlock, might be the most influential

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

11. Ringworld by Larry Niven (1970) - the era of the "huge object in space" included some insane vistas and mind-blowing concepts, but none more awesome than Ringworld. Image by Cortney Skinner

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

12. The New Wave - around the same time that authors like Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and Samuel Delany were reinventing science fiction, artists like Jean Giraud/Moebius were creating new ways of seeing

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

13. Star Wars (1977) - Hard to pick one influential image from Star Wars — but this one shot, of the stars turning into streaks of light by uncanny speed, defined the exhilarating speed and vastness of George Lucas' galaxy, and was copied endlessly.

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

14. Alien (1979) - H.R. Giger's design aesthetic influenced everything from the Borg in Star Trek to every great science fiction horror movie

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

15. Blade Runner (1982) - It's hard to pick one image for the rise of Cyberpunk — I almost went with the cover of Mirrorshades — but Blade Runner helped define the genre's aesthetic

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

16. Tron (1982) - and meanwhile, Tron gave us our first computer VFX and our first glimpse of a virtual world

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

17. Akira (1988) - the iconic anime classic brought us a new vision of apocalypse and mutant havoc

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

18. Jurassic Park (1993) - the first realistic CG creatures and the foundation for the past 20 years of immersive storytelling

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

19. The Matrix (1999) - gave us "bullet time" but also a new way of looking at reality as constituted by computers

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

20. The New Space Opera - from Iain M. Banks to Paul McAuley, from Firefly to Battlestar Galactica, from Halo to Mass Effect, epic space adventures rose again

21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science FictionS

21. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) - in many ways, the past several years have been defined by post-apocalyptic and dystopian worlds, from The Hunger Games to The Walking Dead.