In my personal opinion Science Fiction is one of the most overdone and overlooked genres of any kind of storytelling. What different people perceive it as can be very drastic depending on the person telling the story.
It is one of those vague descriptions that can pretty much be interpreted in many ways. For one, are there certain guidelines to narrow the genre? I would like to think so, but isn't what is needed is just science and some fiction?
There are many "rules" for writing or story building in this particular genre; things that have to exist in order for that to be that particular genre. One would have to be the science aspect. Now this doesn't just mean like test tubes and quantum theories. I have noticed that a lot of Sci-fi stuff usually has the science either half or totally integrated within its world. Take "Star Trek" (thought I was gonna go with Star Wars, huh?) Star Trek is a classic example of Science Fiction. You have aspects of space travel, exploration, high technology(ie: Star Ships, deflector shields, phasors, etc) and you also have different worlds and aliens that populate the "realm" of Star Trek. What seems to be clear is that the science in Science Fiction has to be not only rooted in the world, but it has to be somewhat believable.
Now I know that beaming someone up from the surface of a planet to their command vessel is hardly believable, but what helps sell the idea is that the audience can associate the function of that type of beaming technology, and also the way the information is displayed to that set audience is cleverly designed.
It didn't take much for past audiences say in the 50's and 60's to suspend their disbelief to enjoy those things, but what troubles more modern writers in today's age of Science Fiction, is that the key audience has gotten smarter. This doesn't seem like a problem at first, I mean who really invests in Science Fiction other than nerds and geeks, right? Well what I have noticed is that back in the 50's and 60's there was this great unknown about much of what we call Science. There were tremendous leaps forward during that time which made people seem more accepting of the genre but not many people really knew what it all meant. Nowadays, you can have high school kids debunking things from past Star Trek episodes, when the show first aired, on the internet in like 6 seconds. I mean back then a portable hand help communications device was pretty hi-tech but now its called a cell phone.
The need to explore space say in the case of Star Trek was fitting because of the times. There was the cold war and the race to space mentality that was happening so much of that idea or concept was on a lot of people's minds at the time. Now going back to modern times...the audience is smarter and it is partly due to those writers of older science fiction. What people often overlook is the influence the genre has on actual science. I mean if it weren't for Star Trek displaying all those nifty gadgets, we as a science based people would not have the desire to make those technologies a possibility. Science Fiction has actually inspired many of what we consider today as modern marvels. It is kind of nice to see a genre that gives back to our fellow man.
So what writers today have to deal with is the way they display their material. Since the audiences are smarter, it takes a lot more to convince them of the ideas within the material itself. Writers are now becoming smarter as well to accommodate for their audience's growth in frontal lobe mass. This makes for more research and a lot more interesting topics.
All in all I feel that there is much more for the genre of Science Fiction for the future. At one time in history Sci-Fi influenced much of what actual real life science has to offer, and now the advancements in technology and science will push the boundaries of Science Fiction into the great vast beyond.