Subgenres of SciFi

by , Thursday August 27, 2015
Subgenres of SciFi breaks down sci fi genres



Science fiction is a genre filled with a plethora of subjects including time travel, war stricken futuristic societies, zombie apocalypses, and out of this world experiences. What makes this genre different from others, notably fantasy, is the ability to explain the plot with scientific points, making science fiction a genre that easily connects to earth and how we see it today. 

Because it covers such a wide range of subjects, science fiction is a genre with many sub-genres – which makes it different from, say, romance, humour, or adventure which have far fewer. There are too many to cover in this blog post, but I want to cover the most popular and influential.  

First off, Dystopian Science Fiction. Dystopian YA is one of the biggest trends in recent years in young adult literature – spawning popular franchises ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. It’s quite possibly one of the most popular sub-genres, based around controlling, iron fisted governments that portray their society as quite the opposite – a utopia. These stories can be set in the future or on an alternate timeline. What makes dystopian stories so popular is their ability to tackle modern social issues in different context. This makes dystopian stories great for taking apart and analysing what they’re really about. Popular pieces of dystopian literature include The Handmaid’s Tale, The Maze Runner, and Delirium. In media, The Matrix Trilogy is a good example. 

Super-Human Science Fiction is one of the many sub-genre’s of science fiction that can take place in reality, society as we know it. What defines this sub-genre are the abilities of either the protagonist, or the characters surrounding them. Whether they can shoot fire from their palms or teleport – anything at all – the character is super-human. Commonly, these super-humans are the creation of a government project or a secret organisation, looking to create super soldiers or a superior human race. Popular examples of this sub-genre includes I Am Number Four and Gone. 

A slightly less popular sub-genre is Space Opera. This sub-genre makes way for plots set entirely in space, focusing on melodrama, romance, and adventure. Space Opera’s aren’t terribly common in literature, mostly due to their large scale focusing on multiple characters like a TV show would. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Enders Game are popular examples of this genre. 

Cyber Punk is a subgenre of science fiction that you find mainly hints of in popular novels or media. It’s a modern addition to the science fiction family, focusing on modern issues such as hacking and artificial intelligence. They’re futuristic in the way they’re told and very rarely take place on today’s earth. The sub-genre takes influence from detective and noir work, incorporating the dark but flashy side of the characters lifestyle. The characters in Cyber Punk are often a cross between human and computer. Due to it being such a specific genre, you mainly see it as an influence. It can be seen most famously in The Matrix films – which is also from the Dystopian Genre. 

There are over 50 established science fiction sub-genres, many more that people don’t all agree on. The four sub-genres above are the main contenders in what influences the science fiction we all know. In the next year or so, time travel science fiction might become just as popular, or Biopunk, or Space Western, or any of the others out there. If you write Science Fiction, what sub-genre does your story/stories come under? Do you know about any weird Science Fiction sub-genres? 

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