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On Display at Odum 2022: Science Fiction

Second Floor Display

Science Fiction Genres Group Recommendations

About the Genre

Genre Overview

The science fiction genre, which falls under the speculative fiction umbrella, poses the question: What if scientific theories are right? These stories include elements that do not take place in our current world. Common themes found in the genre include time travel, space travel, aliens, alternate histories, and technology and scientific advances, including robots and artificial intelligence. Subgenres include dystopian, space opera, cyberpunk, and steampunk. Popular authors in this genre include H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams, and N.K. Jemisin.


Common Subgenres

Space Opera

Description: Takes place in outer space, on spaceships, and/or on other planets.

Plot: Warfare or adventure story.

Try: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


Description: Disastrous event that is a catalyst to the end of the world. 

Plot: Characters try to save the world or rebuild new societies after.

Try: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman


Description: When the political and cultural norm of society is unjust or totalitarian. 

Plot: Bravery and defiance against society.

Try: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Time Travel 

Description: When characters travel through space time, which could be forwards or


Plot: Paradox of changing timeline and/or possibilities of the future.

Try: The Time Traveler's Almanac edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Alternative History

Description: The fractured version of Time – historical events shifted or altered. Often

involving key moments and figures in history. Lots of cross-over with Time Travel.

Plot: Consequences and emotions of altered historical events.

Try: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


Description: A dystopian future with high tech and a gritty/cynical tone. 

Plot: Usually fighting corporate greed, generic engineering, and/or burnt out operative.

Try: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi


Description: Uses 19th century steam technology as its base, retro-futurism.

Plot: Usually takes place in Victorian England or American West, adventurous.

Try: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

First Contact

Description: When humans encounter aliens and/or alien technology.

Plot: Typical scenarios include aliens invading Earth, humans discovering alien

technology, and/or aliens existing on Earth unknown to humankind. 

Try: Contact by Carl Sagan


Description: Military service and tactics are the basis of this subgenre

Plot: Usually involves warfare, weaponry, bravery, and skill of soldiers. Questioning of

soldier’s commitment or allegiance during interstellar war. Lots of cross-over with Space Opera.

Try: War of Honor by David Weber

Contact us

These lists and genre information are brought to you by the students in our genre literature class in the Master in Library and Information Science program. Thank you for sending in such good books, materials, and information. I hope you had a good time with this project!

If any material listed is problematic or you would like to suggest future recommendations and themes please contact Crystal Miller at! They would love feedback, or just to talk about books!