WHAT EXACTLY IS SCIENCE FICTION?

Aliens

TYPES OF SCIENCE FICTION

There is a big debate in the literary world as to what and what is not science fiction. Although some people like to believe that all science fiction should be “hard” science fiction, most science fiction is far from that. The truth is there are many kinds of science fiction, and some stories even cross over sub genres.

For those who might not know what a “genre” is, it is basically a category, or sub category. Today we’ll explore some of the sub genres of the category. There are others, but these are the main ones we affiliate with science fiction:

Speculative Fiction is a term used to describe all science fiction and fantasy, and answers the question “What if?”

HARD SCIENCE FICTION

These are fictional stories solely based on technological fact, and are strongly science based. Examples include Michael Crichton, famous for The Andromeda Strain, and Jurassic Park. They seldom stray from factual interpretation of science.main_control_in_the_andromeda_strain

SOFT SCIENCE FICTION

This sub-genre explores the soft(social) sciences, and dwells in the world of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. It is usually not scientifically accurate, and deals with the relationships, political views, or religious views of its characters. A classic example of this is A Stranger In a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. The movie Avatar, also deals with these subjects.

stranger_in_a_strange_land_coverstranger-in-a-strange-land

SPACE OPERA

Adventures set in space, that are somewhat campy with subtle humor. These kind of stories sometime cross into other genres, and can include any of the elements, such as social injustice, good and evil, and time or space travel that isn’t always feasible by common standards. Examples include Star Trek, Star Wars, The Barsoom Series, and Flash Gordon.

klingon-ship

CYBERPUNK

This genre explores the fusion between man and machine, computer, or virtual reality. These type of stories examine the merging of technology with man himself, whether they are a cyborg, android, or artificial intelligence. Examples include The Six Million Dollar Man television series, The Terminator, The Matrix, and several others. One of the classic stories to explore this topic is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION

These stories have a strong military theme to them, and deal with armed forces in space. Whether its another political faction or an alien race. Some classic examples are Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein, and Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card.

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PARALLEL/ALTERNATE UNIVERSE

In this genre, the setting is in an alternate universe, or another time with an alternate history. These stories anything can happen, as a change in the past or an alternate reality affects the outcome of the original time or place.  One of the most famous examples is A Wrinkle In Time, and the Doctor Who television series, which is based loosely on the book.

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            STEAMPUNK

This genre incorporates technology and aesthetic  designs and elements inspired by 19th century industrial steam powered machinery. Some examples are The Wild Wild West,  and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

kyle-cassidy-steampunkwild-wild-westwild-wid-spider

POST APOCALYPTIC

When most people think of these movies or books, they think of zombies. Although some do deal with the undead, most true post apocalyptic science fiction stories only mention zombies if there is an element of science that causes this, such as a plague, chemical, or some other scientific catalyst. It is not limited to these, however, as it can do with anything which causes Earth’s technology to collapse, such as an alien invasion, cosmic event, such as an asteroid, climate change, or global war.  I am Legend is a movie based on the movie Omega Man, which is based on The Last Man on Earth, which is based on The Last Man, written by Mary Shelly, the author of Frankenstein.

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SCIENCE FANTASY

A hybrid and subset of science fiction, where fantasy is part of its them, and where magic is acceptable. One fairly recent example is Reign of Fire, a story about dragons based in present day England.

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These are just some of the genres: there is also Science fiction Horror, which includes stories such as Aliens and Predator, Artificial Intelligence, Alien invasion and others. Several genres cross over into each other, and are as varied as the species of aliens represented in them.

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It has always been a genre that’s fascinated me, and inspired me to write my own space adventure series. What about you, what’s your favorite science fiction story? Is it hard or soft, a space opera, or a steampunk adventure? Or maybe you prefer something along the lines of fantasy, which will be in my next post. Until then, enjoy whatever sci-fi is your bag!

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3 thoughts on “WHAT EXACTLY IS SCIENCE FICTION?”

  1. I’m not that keen on genres, probably because my novels and short stories mostly do not fit a genre. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, nor am I a scientist and yet much of what I write would be called science fiction. What sparks my imagination varies greatly, but always I write about ordinary humans and how they react when strange things happen to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am right with you. Sometimes science fiction borderline fantasy and other genres. The classic example is Star Wars, relying on some kind of spiritual force to explain everything in the universe. Hard science fiction writers would dismiss it as fantasy and not true science fiction,which to me is being prudish. There are room for all kinds of derivatives of both science fiction and fantasy. You are the writer, and you make the rules of the story!

      Liked by 1 person

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