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Science Fiction Subgenres

Last month, we looked at building blocks for the Romance structure. This week, we look at subgenres of Science Fiction.

1. Alternate History Sci Fi could feature time travel as a device, but is considered separate from Time Travel SF. It explores what our world would look like if a specific historical event turned out differently.


2. Apocalyptic Science Fiction explores what happens after an apocalypse caused by war, pandemics, natural disasters, or nuclear weapons. It can explore the moments immediately following it or project the progress into the future.

2. Cyberpunk Science Fiction is a relatively new subgenre in which stories are set in the near-future and explore advances in information technology and the internet, prosthetics, and artificial intelligence. It explores themes of government and control. T
he protagonist is often a reluctant hero.

3. Hard Science Fiction demands rigorous attention to accuracy in your details. Hard-core “science geeks” will be harsh in their criticism if the research isn’t accurate.

4. Military Science Fiction features conflicts between nations or interstellar forces. The protagonist is usually a soldier. These stories explore military technology, procedures, culture, and history.

5. Social/Soft Science Fiction explores topics such as economics, psychology, political science, sociology, and anthropology. They focus more on the characters and the emotions surrounding the cosmic threats. They can explore alternative Utopian or Dystopian societies on earth or in an earth-like place.

6. Space Opera Science Fiction is more action and adventure than thematic exploration. The attention to scientific detail is slim. They feature Fantasy-like heroes on quests to save the world. There can be an element of comedy.

7. Superhuman Science Fiction explores humans with abilities above and beyond normal for the current era. This can be through genetic mutation, genetic tinkering, or prosthetic augmentation. These stories explore what it means to be human and what we lose if we start altering our DNA, bodies, or minds. They examine the line between human and nonhuman.

8. Time Travel Science Fiction is a subgenre that started with Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, then came H. G. Wells's The Time Machine. These stories explore the question of what happens if you tinker with the past. Can you or should you? What are the repercussions if you do?

9. Space Western Science Fiction combines SF with the Western structure. It can feature cowboys and aliens or take place in space colonies that resemble the Wild West. 

Next week, we explore the building blocks for the Science Fiction story skeleton. For more information on building the Science Fiction story, check out the newly released Science Fiction Build A Plot Workbook, available in print and e-book.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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