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.
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com! They would love feedback, or just to talk about books!