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Last week, when I introduced Sci-Fi for the month, I talked about all the elements that qualify a story as science-fiction, and even gave a little break down of why I classify some stories as sub-subgenres. Like fantasy, I’m dividing the world of sci-fi into even smaller classifications.

But after taking a closer look at all of the elements of sci-fi and the way Wikipedia divides it, I’ve decided I don’t really think sci-fi has as many sub-subgenres as fantasy does subgenres. (Again–for me sci-fi is a subgenre of fantasy so if I’m going to take it a step further and break down sci-fi, then it has sub-subgenres.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that every sci-fi story can be classified as one out of four groups: alien, dystopian, time travel or metal men.

See, last week I talked about all sorts of elements that are involved in a sci-fi story, but I really think all of those elements can fit one of these groups. Quantum physics? Usually time related. Space life? There’s bound to be an alien involved and if not, then it’s set in a weird future so it’s definitely dystopic. Alternate history or timelines? Once again a time issue. Space opera or western? I’d venture to say an alien is going to show up–or the words is some weird colony which definitely makes that world a dystopia. What about superhhumans or cyberpunk? I’d call those elements metalmen. Even militaristic sci-fi (think Ender’s Game) might have aliens show up or be set in an imperfect world where something has been colonized and a person [aka the main character] is going to rebel.

I figure–why cause even more confusion with a million different classifications of sci-fi when stories all boil down to one or two elements that end up setting them apart from other genres.

Still following my crazy organized brain? If not–I have this super spacey infographic that lays it all out for you!


Here’s my breakdown…

The Hopeful Heroine’s sub subgenres of sci-fi (with definitions)

  • alien: In which creatures from other worlds (or timelords) appear
  • dystopian: In which the world is (often) post apocalyptic and someone is bound to rebel against the weird new rules
  • time travel: In which tessering, some kind of time machine, a TARDIS, or the doctor is involved
  • metalmen : In which cyborgs, androids, robots, and cybermen wreak havoc

I can honestly say I’ve never been a huge sci-fi fan before, but in the last year it’s growing on me. My husband is a HUGE sci-fi nerd, so he’s been casually introducing sci-fi into my life since we’ve been married. I’ll be honest, it’s started with some TV shows–and boy does sci-fi have some GREAT stuff to watch. But there was this one time he got me to read his favorite book ever, and I may have taken him to meet the author.

I believe that like fantasy, sci-fi is a genre that encourages infinite imagination. So many of it’s stories take place in the future, and include some fantastic technological “magic.” Why wouldn’t we want to escape to somewhere that holds amazing things? Or if we aren’t happy with our world, sci-fi makes the perfect cover up to talk about oppression and crappy political things. It’s easy to hide serious matters under the cover of a futuristic world, and then develop heavy conversation about the topic. I mean, have you ever really dug into the hidden ideas of our current society in The Hungar Games? The symbolism is totally there.

After reading a few sci-fi stories (and watching a LOT of Doctor Who) I can see why someone would fall in love with sci-fi and read only that. When I finish a good story, I want more–in any genre–but there’s something about sci-fi that grips me, especially if it’s time travel. I so badly hope for the day that I can see the TARDIS materializing in front of me or can find a way to bend time and space for tessering. After all, how awesome would it be to go sip tea with Jane Austen?

Hmm…sci-fi Jane Austen? I think I’m going to have to find that story.

Until next week it’s time to stop judging the sub subgenres of sci-fi–Do you agree with me? Can all sci-fi be narrowed down and classified into these four categories? Or am I missing an element? What’s your favorite one to read?