Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities. The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality.
The study of science fiction, or science fiction studies, is the critical assessment, interpretation, and discussion of science fiction literature, film, new media, fandom, and fan fiction. Science fiction scholars take science fiction as an object of study in order to better understand it and its relationship to science, technology, politics, and culture-at-large.
The field has grown considerably since the 1970s with the establishment of more journals, organizations, and conferences with ties to the science fiction scholarship community, and science fiction degree-granting programs such as those offered by the University of Liverpool and Kansas University.
The trilogy comprises The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan. They were first published as three separate volumes starting in September 1975. In 1984 they were published as an omnibus edition, and are now more commonly reprinted in the latter form. In 1986 the trilogy won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, designed to honor classic libertarian fiction. The authors went on to write several works, both fiction and nonfiction, that dealt further with the themes of the trilogy, but they did not write any direct sequels.