The 51 Sub-genres of Speculative Fiction

Originally posted on the Jeniffer Fallow website I came across this list on : Note, none of the categories, descriptions or comments are mine.

Alien Beings — So… would an alien edition of Hamlet read “to being or not to being…”? Just a thought.

Alternate & Parallel Worlds — That would be stories set in the worlds where I am Mrs Pitt, yes?

Alternate History — That would be the one where in 1970, when they were laying the telephone cables in my street, someone from Telecom said, hang the expense, let’s use the good stuff in Number 15…

Apocalypse — The inevitable result of the next telemarketing call I get from Telstra offering me Broadband that they can’t deliver.

Arthurian Legend — Men in protective armour going after a precious cup while women swoon… hang on, isn’t that a football final?

Based on a Game — Please, anything but football…

Bestiary — Also known as anthropomorphism… giving human characteristics and the power of speech to animals. You know, like in parliament…

Bioengineering — Where they invent a vacuum cleaner that cares.

Colonization & terraforming — Isn’t that what we’re doing to our planet ? Completely buggering up the climate to suit ourselves?

Computers — Ah… Binary for Dummies and all other computer self-help books.

Cyberpunk — Computers, Mohawk haircuts, and body piercings, I’m sure.

Detective — It’s a crime they included this one on the list.

Dystopia-Utopia — A Utopia is where everybody is happy. A Dystopia is where they’re not. Sort of like the difference between medication time in a mental asylum and Iraq .

Ecology — Where the blood of your enemies… makes for really good fertilizer.

Fairy Tales — Of course, Ms Fallon, we can connect broadband to your home… Galactic Empires & Space Operas — Home of all the really cool evil overlords.

Graphic Novels & Comics — For boys who love comics but want to appear grown-up and edgy.

Hard Science — Because it often is.

Heroic — See Galactic Empires & Space Operas. Has a disturbing tendency to involve goat herders, prophesies and quests.

Historical or Fictional Characters — There’s a sentence that makes sense…

Human Comedy — Which is so much funnier than, like, rodent comedy.

Humorous — Anything else that’s funny which doesn’t involve humans, I suppose. Like cockroaches. There’s a chortle.

Immortality — Isn’t that where they put The Never Ending Story?

Inspirational — The Power of Positive… what… Space Travel? Spell Casting? I dunno… (Who made up this silly list?)

Lost Worlds — They’re always in the last place you look.

Love & Sex — Where you learn what it’s really like to do it in a zero-g environment, maybe?

Magic — Ta Da! Broadband in my house!

Messianic -Religious — Any book that inspires you to ask: Dear God, how did this get published?

Militaristic — Space Opera with bigger guns and people who say “siryessir!” a lot

Nanotechnology — One for the Little People.

New Wave — Because Old Wave is just sooo last year…

Parody — Plagiarism with jokes.

Political — Where the really nasty evil overlords lurk. The ones who can orate.

Psionic Powers — I’ll have to think about this one.

Quest — Involves rings, ancient swords, grails and prophesies. And often a hero.

Rites of Passage — Always starts with a teenage hero. Often ends in blood. May also involve goat herders and a quest.

Robots, Androids, Cyborgs — Because they’re machines and that way you don’t have to deal with that pesky characterisation thingy the publishers keep insisting on.

Saga, Myth, & Legend — Bit like the E! Channel with swords.

Science Fantasy — Scifi that ignores the basic laws of physics. Think Star Trek.

Shared Worlds and Franchise Universes — McScifi or McFantasy. Take your pick.

Short Stories — Not so much “world building” as “room building”

Social Criticism — Bad society, naughty society… you will have to be punished

Space Travel — Only if you’ve got FTL otherwise it’s very long and very boring… and please, do not, under any circumstances, mention the effect of time dilation.

Steam Punk — OK, you will never convince me that some publicist didn’t just make this category up because it sounded cool…

Superheroes — Without whom, the Lycra industry would have gone bust.

Sword & Sorcery — Where the spell is mightier than the sword.

Time Travel — Where you get to go back (or forward) and do it all again.

Urban — Fantasy set in cities… you know, where parking is free and public transport runs on time… that sort of thing.

Virtual reality — You just think you’re reading these books…

Women in — Women in? What sort of ridiculous genre is Women in?

Time Travel — see… I warned you…

World of Faerie — Fairy stories for the grown-ups who’d be reading graphic novels, if only they’d put more magic and cute chicks with wings in them.

Jennifer Fallon

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