Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror – that is just three genre’s right? Hmm, not quite. There are lots of different subgenres within all three. In this series of posts, I hope to run you through a brief description of most of those subgenres – I say most as new subgenres are emerging all the time.
This week, the focus will be on sci-fiction genres:
· Alien invasion – in simple terms, the aliens have come. Extra-terrestrials have invade Earth to exterminate and get rid human life, enslave it, to harvest humans, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether. Needless to say it’s not a fun time for the humans in this story.
· Alternate history – this mixes science fiction and historical fiction and changes one small (or maybe not so small point) and develops the narrative from there. A common example of this is what if Germany had won the Second World War.
· Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction – Apocalyptic deals with the end of the world and the end of human civilisation usually through some kind of catastrophe event such as zombies, nuclear warfare, a pandemic, technological failure, resource depletion, ecological collapse or some other general disasters. Post-apocalyptic is how the survivors deal with that new world.
· Atompunk – This is cold war fiction set between 1945 and 1965. Naturally this means that there is a lot of tension about the end of the world and the use of the atom bomb and other weapons that may have the same effect.
· Biopunk – Is near-future fiction that deals with the playing with and changing people’s DNA, usually to make a better human with the creation of designer children, soldiers, workforce etc. It builds on synthetic biology, in which individuals are usually modified and enhanced by genetic manipulation.
· Black Science Fiction – This is where the characters are of African diaspora take. In the late 1990s, critics began to use the term Afrofuturism for fiction were characters of African diaspora who were science fiction as means of exploring the black experience.
· Clockpunk – Set in the renaissance period. The focus in of the scientific and technological change that was being discovered in this period.
· Cyperpunk – Is set in a future, and focuses on "high tech and low life". It contains advanced technology and science, such as cybernetics, and a breakdown or radical change in the social order
· Decopunk – Is set between 1920 and 1950, which means this genre can overlap with dieselpunk. However unlike the level of technology playing a clear role in influencing the story, this is influenced by art, specifically art-deco.
· Dieselpunk – Is set between the start of World War One and the end of World Two, in a period where extreme political ideologies (mainly fascism and communism) loom large. It has technologies that are fuelled by diesel.
· Dying Earth - Takes place in the far future at either the end of life on Earth or the End of Time, when the laws of the universe themselves fail.
· Feminist science fiction - Tends to deal with women's roles in society. It focus on social issues such as how society constructs gender, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women.
· Gothic science fiction - It captures the dark atmosphere of gothic fiction while also incorporating elements of science fiction.
· Hard science fiction – Is characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy or technical detail, or on both. Quite simply in this story the science and getting it right comes first.
· Libertarian science fiction - Focuses on the politics and social order implied by libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and a limited state—and in some cases, no state whatsoever.
· Military science fiction – The use of science fiction technology is for developing weapons, for military purposes. Characters are members of a military organization involved in military activity; occurring sometimes in outer space or on a different planet or planets.
· Mundane science fiction - Is characterized by its setting on Earth or within the solar system, and a lack of interstellar travel or contact with aliens.
· Nanopunk – This is a new genre and therefore still in it infancy. It is very similar to biopunk in a lot of ways with its near future setting and the playing around with human DNA, However this focus is on concerns linked to artistic and physiological impact of nanotechnology.
· Paranormal romance - Focuses on the love story but includes elements from the speculative fiction genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. This mainly comes in the form of vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, or time travel, but can also include characters with psychic abilities, like telekinesis or telepathy.
· Science fiction western –This is a cross between the science fiction and western genres.
· Scientific romance – This a story which has an reasonably equal mix between the elements of a science fiction story and a romantic one.
· Social science fiction – Is concerned less with technology and more with speculation about human society.
· Soft science fiction - Uses the science elements as a backdrop for the story, rather than the central topic. It either explores the "soft" sciences, and especially the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science etc), rather than engineering or the "hard" sciences ( physics, astronomy, or chemistry), or is not always scientifically accurate, or both. Simply the story comes before the science.
· Space Opera – Focus on space warfare often told in a melodramatic adventure style. It usually includes a romance or the development of relationships. It involves conflicts between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technologies.
· Space Western – Cowboys in outer space. It has all the typical themes of a western frontier story except this one is set in space.
· Steampunk – Set in the 19th Century Victorian or American Wild-West Period. The technology is fuelled by steam and clockwork devices. It features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is rooted in the era in terms of fashion, culture, architectural style, and art
· Stonepunk – Fiction is set in the Stone Age. Characters utilize Neolithic Revolution and use stone technology to progress society – think The Flintstones car.
· Transrealism – Mixes elements of science fiction with natural realism, exploring the scientific boundaries.