Part of what I love about science fiction is that it covers so many different topics. Sometimes when I mention to others that I love science fiction, I feel like I occasionally get a funny look or two. And then I wonder how many awesome books the person sitting across from me has either read without really realizing it was science fiction, or missed out on because they turned their nose up at something with the label.
So I thought I’d share some of my favorite sub-genres with you today, along with a few suggestions to check out if you’re looking to try some of them.
Apocalyptic / Post-Apocalyptic
I love stories about the end of the world. Granted- my favorites are those that usually explore the darker side of human nature, books like Wanderers
and King’s The Stand
, but I also like hopeful stories that explore the survival of humanity as earth is becoming uninhabitable (e.g. The Calculating Stars
What intrigues me about them is the way the human need (instinct?) to survive effects each character. Will they do whatever it takes? Will they commit unspeakable acts in the interest of protecting themselves and their families? Or will they come together and unite for a common cause?
First Contact / Alien Invasion
I love all fiction with aliens for a few different reasons. The easy answer is the almost limitless opportunity it gives an author to exercise the limits of their imagination. What kinds of tech do they have? What kind of rituals do they practice? What sort of hierarchy does their society follow?
But the more complex answer is that alien civilization can act as a sort of mirror, reflecting back all the ugly and beautiful truths about our own civilization. It gives the reader a chance to question why things are the way they are, how they came to be that way, and how we could set ourselves on a path to change (hopefully for the better).
Dystopian / Utopian
This is an easy one and probably the most accessible to those who aren’t necessarily fans of SciFi and Fantasy. I like dystopian because I think it’s interesting to consider how the in-book society evolved into what it became. Qualityland
, for example, is very obviously derived from Amazon’s dominion over the retail space. On the other hand, utopian books examine what it might mean to try and please everyone, or put them all on an even playing field.
Science Fiction Thrillers
And of course- probably my most favorite genre of all- the science fiction thriller. Not because they have any higher purpose, but because they are damn entertaining.
There are a couple other genres of SciFi I’m hoping to explore this year. Topics that interest me or genres in which I’ve only read one or two books, but have enjoyed, despite not having had the time yet to dive deeper.
Biopunk is described as “derived from cyberpunk [that] focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology” (Wikipedia
). I read, and once very much enjoyed, Borne
, but I’d love to see what else exists in the genre and how it is deployed. The big one I have slated for this is Atwood’s Oryx and Crake
, but I’ve talked about that particular book quite a bit recently and wanted to spotlight something different.
Cyberpunk is described as a “combination of low-life and high tech” (Wikipedia
, Sterling Bruce, Burning Chrome by William Gibson preface). Infomocracy
probably fails on the first count. I don’t think either of the two main characters are necessarily “low life”, but the book has a very urban, gritty, feel that I think qualifies it. Last year I listened to SerialBox’s Ninth Step Station
that I’d say qualifies as cyberpunk also. Another book most people are probably familiar with is Ready Player One
. I loved them all and I definitely want to read more.
What are your favorite science fiction sub-genres?