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Science fiction books and their subgenres

By Brad Dehnert

Science fiction is a genre of fiction that explores the possibilities of science and technology and their potential impact on society and the individual. Science fiction stories often take place in the future or in alternate realities, and may include elements of space travel, time travel, alien life forms, and advanced technology. Science fiction often examines the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, as well as the social and cultural implications of these advances. The genre also often explores themes of humanity, society, and the future. Examples of science fiction books include "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, and "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells.

In our article on popular book genres, we discuss the importance of choosing the genre you're writing in. Below you'll find our extensive list of science fiction book genres along with examples and a brief description of each.

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Dystopian

Dystopian science fiction is a subgenre that explores a future society in which the conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, or environmental disasters. These stories often portray a society in which the government or other dominant forces exert control over individuals and limit their freedom. The protagonist of a dystopian story may attempt to overthrow the oppressive government or find a way to escape the society.

Some examples of dystopian science fiction include:

  • "1984" by George Orwell
  • "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
  • "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
  • "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Post-apocalyptic

Post-apocalyptic science fiction is a subgenre that portrays a world or civilization after a catastrophic event such as a nuclear war, pandemic, or natural disaster. These stories often explore the struggles of surviving in a world that has been drastically changed by the disaster, and may depict the formation of new societies and the development of new technologies and social norms. The protagonist of a post-apocalyptic story may be a survivor of the disaster who must navigate the challenges of the new world.

Some examples of post-apocalyptic science fiction include:

  • "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
  • "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham
  • "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson
  • "The Last Man on Earth" by Richard Matheson

Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the relationship between technology and society, often depicting a future in which advanced technology has changed the way people live and interact. These stories often include elements of computer hacking, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, and may explore the negative effects of technology on individuals and society. The protagonist of a cyberpunk story may be a hacker or other tech-savvy individual who uses their skills to fight against a corrupt or oppressive government or corporation.

Some examples of cyberpunk science fiction include:

  • "Neuromancer" by William Gibson
  • "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson
  • "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
  • "The Matrix" by the Wachowski siblings

Space Opera

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that is characterized by epic storytelling, elaborate world-building, and grandiose themes. These stories often take place in a distant future and may feature alien civilizations, space battles, and intergalactic politics. The stories may be action-packed and may include elements of romance and adventure.

Some examples of space opera novels include:

  • "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  • "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
  • "The Culture Series" by Iain M. Banks
  • "The Expanse Series" by James S.A. Corey

Military Science Fiction

Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the military and warfare. These stories often take place in a future where humanity has expanded into space and may feature advanced technology, space battles, and futuristic weapons. The stories may explore themes of war and conflict, and may focus on the experiences of soldiers and military personnel.

Some examples of military science fiction novels include:

  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi
  • "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman
  • "Armor" by John Steakley

Military science fiction subgenres

Within the military sci-fi genre there are also several subgenres:

  • Space fleet
  • Space marine

Time Travel

Time travel is a subgenre of science fiction that involves the use of technology or other means to travel through time. These stories may explore the consequences of time travel and the effects of changing the past. The stories may be humorous or serious, and may include elements of adventure, romance, and mystery.

Some examples of time travel novels include:

  • "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells
  • "The End of Eternity" by Isaac Asimov
  • "11/22/63" by Stephen King
  • "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger

Alternate History

Alternate history is a subgenre of science fiction that involves the exploration of what might have happened if historical events had turned out differently. These stories often involve the use of time travel or other means to change the course of history, and may include elements of fantasy and magic. The stories may be set in a variety of time periods and may explore a wide range of historical events and figures.

Some examples of alternate history novels include:

  • "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick
  • "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
  • "The Guns of the South" by Harry Turtledove

Steampunk

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that is set in an alternate history where steam power is still widely used. These stories often incorporate elements of fantasy and feature Victorian-era technology and aesthetics, such as steam-powered machines and airships. Steampunk may also include elements of horror and the supernatural.

Some examples of steampunk novels include:

  • "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
  • "The Spirit Thief" by Rachel Aaron
  • "The Affinity Bridge" by George Mann
  • "The Iron Duke" by Meljean Brook

Dieselpunk

Dieselpunk is a subgenre of science fiction that is similar to steampunk, but is set in a world where diesel power has become dominant. These stories may incorporate elements of the pulps and the noir genre, and often feature retrofuturistic technology and aesthetics. Dieselpunk may also include elements of horror and the supernatural.

Some examples of dieselpunk novels include:

  • "The Iron Dream" by Norman Spinrad
  • "The Concrete Jungle" by Paul Di Filippo
  • "The Sky-Liners" by Floyd L. Wallace
  • "The Drowned World" by J.G. Ballard
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Hard Science Fiction

Hard science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on scientific accuracy and realism. These stories often explore the consequences of scientific and technological developments, and may include complex scientific concepts and detailed depictions of futuristic technology. Hard science fiction may also include elements of adventure and exploration.

Some examples of hard science fiction novels include:

  • "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  • "The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu
  • "Neuromancer" by William Gibson
  • "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov

Soft Science Fiction

Soft science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on character development and social science rather than hard science and technology. These stories often explore the social and cultural implications of scientific and technological developments, and may include elements of psychology and sociology. Soft science fiction may also include elements of romance and interpersonal relationships.

Some examples of soft science fiction novels include:

  • "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester
  • "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick
  • "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick

Social Science Fiction

Social science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the ways in which society and human behavior are affected by science and technology. These stories often explore the consequences of scientific and technological advancements, as well as the potential impacts on the individual and on society as a whole. Social science fiction may include elements of dystopian or utopian societies, and may explore themes of politics, economics, and sociology.

Some examples of social science fiction include:

  • "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
  • "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
  • "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
  • "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

New Wave Science Fiction

New Wave science fiction is a subgenre that emerged in the 1960s and is characterized by its experimental and avant-garde approach to storytelling. New Wave science fiction often incorporates elements of psychedelia, surrealism, and other forms of artistic expression, and may include unconventional narrative structures and non-linear storytelling. These stories often focus on the inner lives and emotional experiences of the characters, rather than on the traditional action and adventure elements of science fiction.

Some examples of New Wave science fiction include:

  • "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "Dhalgren" by Samuel R. Delany
  • "The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

New Space Opera

New Space Opera is a subgenre of science fiction that builds upon the conventions of the traditional space opera, but with a modern and updated approach. These stories often feature large-scale space battles, epic journeys, and complex political and social landscapes, but may also include elements of character-driven storytelling and emotional depth. New Space Opera may incorporate elements of hard science fiction, but often also includes elements of fantasy and other speculative fiction genres.

Some examples of New Space Opera include:

  • "Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie
  • "The Expanse" series by James S.A. Corey
  • "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers
  • "The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu

Bizarro Fiction

Bizarro fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that is characterized by its unconventional and surreal elements. Bizarro fiction often includes elements of the absurd, the grotesque, and the fantastical, and may blur the lines between reality and fantasy. These stories often challenge traditional narrative structures and genre conventions, and may be considered experimental or avant-garde.

Some examples of Bizarro fiction include:

  • "The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World" by Brian Allen Carr
  • "The Unnoticeables" by Robert Brockway
  • "The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies" by Eric S. Brown and Christopher M. Cevasco
  • "The Cosmic Dregs" by Kevin L. Donihe

Superhero Fiction

Superhero fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that centers around characters who have superhuman abilities or powers. These stories often involve characters who use their powers to fight crime or evil, and may include elements of adventure, action, and drama. Superhero fiction often incorporates elements of the traditional superhero comic book genre, and may include characters who are part of a larger superhero team or universe.

Some examples of superhero fiction include:

  • "Superman: Red Son" by Mark Millar
  • "The Watchmen" by Alan Moore
  • "Superman: Earth One" by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
  • "Thor: The Mighty Avenger" by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee

Space Western

Space Western is a subgenre of science fiction that combines elements of the Western genre with science fiction elements. These stories often take place in a futuristic or outer space setting, and may include themes and conventions of the Western genre, such as cowboys, gunslingers, and outlaws. Space Westerns often explore themes of frontier life and the challenges of living in a lawless and dangerous environment.

Some examples of Space Westerns include:

  • "The Gunslinger" by Stephen King
  • "Firefly" by Joss Whedon
  • "The Six-Gun Tarot" by R.S. Belcher
  • "Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra" by Jason Fry

Adventure Science Fiction

Adventure science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on action-packed and exciting stories. These stories often feature daring heroes who embark on thrilling journeys and face dangerous obstacles and challenges. The stories may be set in a variety of locations, including space, other planets, and futuristic or dystopian societies.

Some examples of adventure science fiction include:

  • "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  • "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov
  • "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
  • "The Martian" by Andy Weir

Galactic Empire

The Galactic Empire subgenre of science fiction is characterized by stories that take place in a galaxy-spanning empire. These stories often focus on the political and social structures of the empire and the conflicts and intrigues that arise within it. The stories may also explore the relationships between the different species and civilizations that make up the empire.

Some examples of Galactic Empire science fiction include:

  • "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  • "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov
  • "The Culture" series by Iain M. Banks

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Posted in Learn to Write on 2022-12-04 00:24:45 -