Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Science Fiction and its many subgenres

Science fiction... where to start, where to start? I guess from the beginning.

As many other SF lovers, H. G. Wells was the author that triggered by devotion to science fiction. His "Time Machine", with its descriptions and underlining essay on societal structures, blew my mind.

And don't even get me geeking on Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. If you want to explore some new SF authors, check out this site: It's pretty comprehensive.

I just love the possibility and wonder SF brings to its readers. It takes what's happening today - political, social, economical, technological - and looks forward to envision plausible scenarios of where it will lead humanity.

Sometimes it's dystopic, such as "Ender's Game" (Orson Scott Card) or "The Children of Men" (P. D. James). Sometimes it's utopic which usually ends up a emotionally repressed nightmare any-who, such as "Childhood's End" (Arthur C. Clarke) or "A Crystal Age" (W. H. Hudson).

SF is not as easily defined. Usually when you say you read SF, the fellow SFer asks, "What kind." That's because in reality, science fiction is a broad term that encompasses a lot of different sub genres:
·         Alternate history
·         Anthropological
·         Apocalyptic (I personally add atomic punk into this subgenre but I know there are differences of opinion in this thought)
·         Cyberpunk
·         Dieselpunk
·         Hard SF
·         Military
·         Soft/social SF
·         Space opera - the SF subgenre I usually write
·         Space western
·         Steampunk
·         Superhuman (not to be confused with superhero, which is fantasy...think genetically engineered soldiers)
·         Time travel

Mix and match these bad boys together and you got some really great stories, but where I think SF really rocks is when one or more of the above blend with another main genre: SF Comedy, SF Romance, SF folklore (think vampires in space type stuff), SF mystery, SF thriller, and on and on.

For me, I usually focus on women-driven SF. I start with space opera and dash in some anthropological, genetic engineering, military and western bits as the characters tell me they need and go from there. The science fiction I'm really focused on reading right now is the fiction romance, usually set in space.

So, what kinds of SF do you enjoy reading or are interested in checking out?


  1. Nice post AR. I never really thought of all the different SF out there, but you're right, there's a ton! Personally, I like a blend of genres. Something that keeps me on my toes.

    1. Blended stories are some of my favorite to! It's such a versatile genre and lends itself to so many angles to tell a story.

  2. I had a rather heated debate with an English teacher when my daughter was a senior in high school. Her English teacher was a real butthead anyway. He had them reading Ender's Game, and made a statement in class that there was only one genre of science fiction. That was it.

    After the class was over, my daughter went to him and said "I didn't want to say anything during class, but, you're wrong. There are a lot of different sub-genres of science fiction." He got cocky, and asked her just exactly how she knew this. She said "My mother writes futuristic, moderately post-apocalyptic science fiction and she owns a publishing house."

    He said "So, you're saying if I email your mother she's going to tell me there's different kinds of science fiction?" (basically calling her out).

    She said "Here's my mother's card."


    He did email me, and I gave him a very similar list of genres. I also described each genre very carefully for him, giving him examples of classic literature, modern literature, and movies/television shows. He never responded to my email, and turned into an even bigger jerk. It got so bad (the maliciousness he dumped on Kate as well as the blatant misconduct in his classroom toward other students) we were having meetings with the school by the end of the semester. While it seems he was inappropriate with multiple students (Telling one Muslim student to shut up during class and calling her a terrorist), his ire toward Kate really amped up after she proved him wrong. Or, I proved him wrong... whichever.

    Either way, people who don't realize the vastness of the genre miss out. Because they may think "I don't like spaceships and aliens" doesn't meant there isn't a science fiction genre for them.

    (FYI... he's since been fired. LOL)

  3. Oh, what an anus! Amazes me how some teachers can behave. Thankfully there's 10 good teachers for every 1 jerk teacher.

    I've had so many conversations with people who say "I don't like SF" and then talk about how great H. G. Wells is or some other non space ship/alien/other planet based SF author.