Lately there were a number of questions asking for the earliest works containing examples of some specific tropes, or having certain characteristics. As we go back in time, the concept of sci-fi becomes ever blurrier.
The term "science fiction" originates from the middle of the 20th century, but there are works from the late 19th century that most people would consider as a sci-fi: for example, most works from H.G.Wells, and some works from Verne.
However, the further back in time we go, the closer do these stories start to belong to folk tales, legends, and ultimately mythology. Can we find reasonable threshold which separates fables from sci-fi?
Does a story which is older than the term "sci-fi", but does contain features commonly associated to the genre, count as sci-fi for the sake of this site?
The second part of this question deals specifically with Gulliver's Travels, as this is what motivated me to post this question.
- it's more of a travellers' tale with satirical fables
- it is not in public consciousness as a sci-fi, but as a tale.
- The third book (Laputa) features futuristic technology, like flying islands, and has deep discussions about the scientific method. Even in the other books, the protagonist visits non-mythical, non-supernatural locations which do differ greatly from our known world.
- Wikipedia classifies it as proto science-fiction
- the protagonist is a scientist of sort (he is a medic) and often makes observations about the technology and society of the places he visits.
- the points in the "arguments against" are mostly due to the simplified versions of the book, like children's cartoons; the original book has a much more serious tone.