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Biblio File

Science Fiction Genre Primer



The Science Fiction Genre

Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

Themes include: Robots, interstellar travel, time travel, parallel universes, aliens, post-apocalyptic worlds.






Apocalyptic / Dystopian Fiction

Dystopia is often used to describe a place that looks perfect on the surface but is bad underneath. Apocalyptic fiction involves a world that has been devastated by disease, famine, war, or natural disasters. Well known examples include: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Insurgent and Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. 

Hard Science Fiction

The emphasis is on scientific accuracy. To sample some hard science fiction, take a look at The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu, and the work of author Stanislaw Lem

Military Science Fiction

Features the use of science fiction technology, mainly weapons. Main characters are often members of a military organization and the action takes place in outer space or on a different planet. Some popular titles include: Ancillary Justice by Anne Lecki and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

Space Opera

Features space warfare, interplanetary battles, and romance. Think soap opera in space. For space melodrama, take a look at A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge and Dune by Frank Herbert.


Has an historical setting and involves steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. Good steampunk for the unfamiliar reader includes: Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, His Dark Materials trilogy begining with The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and The Difference Engine by William Gibson.

Major awards for Science Fiction include the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award.  





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Anthropological Sci fi

You missed a category! I call it anthropological sci-fi. This focuses on works that address how people/families will live - on another planet - with new medical advances - with different family configurations - life with aliens, etc. I recommend Ursula Le Guin, Nancy Kress, Octavia Butler ...

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