Sub-Genres of Sci-Fi

  Good morning, lovely people! Today I am going off schedule (which I have been doing all month, haha *cries*) to bring you this post. However, I have a good reason for doing so today, it's Indie E-Con 2018 and today's featured genre is Sci-Fi! Today I'll be talking about some Sub-Genres of Sci-Fi and all the awesome variety within this expansive and entertaining genre.


  This is the stuff where science and tech take center stage. It is typically heavy on concepts and tries to take on a lot of scientific realism. Here the scientific side of things will be explained in detail, sometimes at the expense of characters and plot.

  Examples: Blindsight by Peter Watts, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, Jurassic Park by Micheal Crichton.


  Exactly what it sounds like, soft sci-fi is basically the opposite of hard sci-fi, where the characters and plot take center stage over the worldbuilding.

  Examples: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.


  Books that revolve heavily around a military theme, usually depicting a war, revolution, or other military conflict. Here, heroism, nobility, courage, honor, and duty all take center stage as driving themes.

  Examples: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, Dune by Frank Herbert.


  This, naturally, is fiction where the science behind robots is the central and running theme.

  Examples: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, The Humanoids by Jack Williamson.


  This is one of my favorite sub-genres, in social sci-fi, the writer extrapolates future society often for the purpose of social satire. Social sciences are the overriding theme here, but usually include mention of superior technological science that has helped shape the society in question.

  Examples: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Animal Farm by George Orwell


  When you think "space opera" you probably think Star Wars, if you are anything like me anyway. Space Opera, while sometimes ill-defined, generally refers to a long-running series with continuing story arcs, a space setting, a large cast of characters, and focus on large-scale events such as galactic war. Reoccurring themes in this specific genre include imperialism, heroism, war, colonialism, politics, rebellion, and exploration.

  Examples: Star Wars by George Lucas, The First Lensman by EE Smith, Foundation by Isaac Asimov.


  Steampunk fiction merges sci-fi, alternate history, and the aesthetic of the 19th and 20th centuries. Not only is it a literary category, but style of dress and artistic movement as well. The idea behind steampunk is the technology of today being introduced at a much earlier time and often working in conjuction with steam power. It focuses on the age of steam and the inventiveness of industrial engineers.

  Examples: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Larklight by Philip Reeve.


  This genre relates to the science of cybernetics and cybernetic enhancement. Here we explore the link between biology and computer technology, using virtual reality, prosthetics, and cyborgs as typical plot devices.

  Examples: Neuromancer by William Gibson, Cyberpunk by Bruce Bethke, Brass Man by Neal Asher.


  There is some controversy on whether or not superheroes belong in the science-fiction or fantasy genres, but usually there is a lot of technology and science involved in superheroes and their powers. Superhero fiction also tends to play out in an Earth setting, using modern times as a backdrop for certain advances in human enhancement or other such experiments that give characters their powers.

  Examples: Vicious by VE Schwab, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Ex-Heroes by Peter Cline.


  This is fiction that concerns the ending of the world or the ending of the human race. Typical aspects include human endangerment or extinction, societal upheaval, or ecological destruction - all of which lead to chaos.

  Examples: The Stand by Stephen King, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, World War Z by Max Brooks, The Maze Runner by James Dashner.


  Here we see stories set in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event where life on planet Earth has been irrevocably altered, usually for the worst. Post-apocalyptic settings are typically dark with survivors facing a myriad of dangerous circumstances, starvation, violence, radiation, and unhealthy environments among them.

  Examples: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.


  The technology for time travel features here and usually the protagonists end up voyaging into the past or future. Occasionally this dips into the alternate history or social categories.

  Examples: The Time Machine by HG Wells, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain.


  These are stories set in a world where history has been altered in some significant way. For instance, the assassination of Hitler.

  Examples: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, Roma Eterna by Robert Silverburg, Pavane by Keith Roberts.


  Parallel world sci-fi explores the idea that there are alternate universes running alongside our own, and that one may get to them through certain gates or "worm-holes." Lost worlds sci-fi is similar but features the exploration of forgotten lands such as lost islands, continents, etc. Often with the discoveries of scientific wonders such as living dinosaurs, the secret of Atlantis, and strange, ancient technology.

  Examples: Coraline by Neil Gaiman, A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab, The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.


  Dystopias deal with societies in political repression, usually worlds where freedom is limited and conventional morality has been perverted.

  Examples: 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

  And there you have it! Just a few of the sub-genres of sci-fi! Do you have a favorite or one you've tried writing in before? Maybe a favorite book from one of these genres? I would love to hear about it!

  As well as this post here, I also wrote up another sci-fi related post which is currently able to be viewed over at the Indie E-Con website. There I talk about Utopias and whether it really is a genre or not. Feel free to check it out, as well as the many other great sci-fi articles!



    What would you call a futuristic story in which most of humanity has died out and they have basically reverted back to old fashioned style of living and the plot and characters take precedence over any sci-fi/tech elements ....???

    1. That would be post-apocalyptic.

    2. Thanks Lisa! Yes, I'd have to agree with Kendra. Post-apocalyptic. It's funny because no matter how many sub-genres of this genre there are, there still seem to be things that don't fit quite right. My one book, Faithless, is like that. :P

  2. This is so interesting! I knew there where this many types of sci-fi, but seeing it written down is mind-blowing.

    1. I know, right!? It's hard to believe the genre is so big! And yet I didn't even cover them all!

  3. I didn't even know there were so many types of sci-fi! How interesting! I thought I didn't read much sci-fi, but a bunch of books I really like are on the list so . . . . ????????? I guess either I really love it or really hate it, I guess??!?

    1. It's actually crazy how expansive the genre is, so much fits under the umbrella of sci-fi. So honestly, pretty much any kind of reader will like some part of it.


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