Since the early half of the late 20th century, sci-fi has enjoyed a rise in popularity. It's a genre based in limitless imagination, but also rooted in the plausible or at least the kind of plausibility that a science fiction writer's quirky brain can reasonably conjure. I am drawn to it because it instills in me a sense of awe and wonder, as well as adventure and incredible surprises.
They say the "golden age" of science fiction is "12." That joke is based on truth -- 12 year olds certainly are at the right age to fully appreciate the amazing stories and astonishing tales of aliens, spaceships, time travel, robots, and whatever else was delivered by decades of science fiction storytelling, building on what came before while looking ever forward with speculations of things to come.
Yet, fans of the genre do not ever truly outgrow it. Instead they remain forever "12 at heart." Years of growing older add wisdom and life experiences that strengthen the appreciation of good science fiction tales.
Sci-fi has dominated movies, television, books, comics, video games, even theater, music, and other arts. Maybe the reason is that audiences crave escapism from the often mundane or sometimes stressful real world. It is revealing that in my poll two other so-called juvenile type genres were tied for second place: "Fantasy" and "Animation." People want to immerse themselves in those worlds of make-believe and follow larger than life characters (or average characters in larger than life situations). Next on the list, in descending order, were "Comedy," "Drama," "Mystery," and "Action/Adventure."
"Horror," another genre that sometimes blends fantasy and science fiction elements, came in 8th on the poll, lower than I expected. I wonder if there is a growing backlash to the gory torture trend that has ruled that particular genre for a while. As I wrote a few years ago, maybe people are growing tired of being repulsed and just want horror movies to scare them again. Or maybe my poll was skewed by an audience who, like me, just wants to be wowed by ideas and moments of what-if amazement.
The rest of the genres in the poll were "Romance," "Reality/Documentary," "Thriller/Suspense," and the ever obscure "Other." All have their diehard fans. A blog focusing on romance would obviously have earned more votes for that genre, and even unranked genres like "Westerns" have their loyal adherents, but I still think the strong showing of "Science Fiction" is no fluke. It's the perfect genre that can be appreciated on multiple levels -- innocent, fun surface level amusement, or more subtextextual, metaphoric understanding. Those levels are often interwined, making the genre so enjoyable.