Outline of science fiction

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to science fiction:

Science fictiongenre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.[1][2][3] Exploring the consequences of such innovations is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".[4]

Nature of science fiction

Main article: Science fiction
  • Definitions of science fiction: Science fiction includes such a wide range of themes and subgenres that it is notoriously difficult to define.[5] Accordingly, there have been many definitions offered.

Science fiction can be described as a type of:

  • Fiction: form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s). Although fiction often describes a major branch of literary work, it is also applied to theatrical, cinematic, and musical work.
  • Genre: science fiction is a genre of fiction.

Genres of science fiction

A science fiction genre is a sub-category within the broader context of the science fiction genre as a whole. Science fiction may be divided along any number of overlapping axis. Gary K. Wolfe's Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy identifies over 30 definitions of SF, not including speculative fiction and science fantasy.


Genres concerning the emphasis, accuracy, and type of science described include:

  • Hard science fiction—a particular emphasis on scientific detail and/or accuracy
  • Soft science fiction—focus on human characters and their relations and feelings, while de-emphasizing the details of technological hardware and physical laws
  • Social science fiction—concerned less with technology and space opera and more with sociological speculation about human society


Themes related to science, technology, space and the future, as well as characteristic plots or settings include:


Genres concerning politics, philosophy, and identity movements include:


Genres concerning the historical era of creation and publication include:

  • Cyberpunk—noted for its focus on "high tech and low life" and taking its name from the combination of cybernetics and punk.
  • Golden Age of Science Fiction—a period of the 1940s during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published.
  • New Wave science fiction—characterised by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content.
  • Pulp science fiction
  • Scientific romance—an archaic name for what is now known as the science fiction genre, mostly associated with the early science fiction of the United Kingdom.
  • Steampunk—alternate histories in the spirit of Jules Verne, where a Victorian era steam-powered society develops advanced technologies.


Genres that combine two different fiction genres or use a different fiction genre's mood or style include:

  • Alternate history science fiction—fiction set in a world in which history has diverged from history as it is generally known
  • Comic science fiction
  • Science fiction erotica
  • Adventure science fiction—science fiction adventure is similar to many genres and is emphasized in popular culture (see Romantic Science Fiction and Space Opera)
  • Gothic science fiction—a subgenre of science fiction that involves gothic conventions
  • New Wave science fiction—characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content
  • Science fantasy—a mixed genre of story which contains some science fiction and some fantasy elements
  • Science fiction opera—a mixture of opera and science fiction involving empathic themes
  • Science fiction romance—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and romance genres
  • Science fiction mystery—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and mystery genres, encompassing Occult detective fiction and science fiction detectives
  • Science fiction Western—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and Western genres
  • Space Western—a subgenre of science fiction that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers.

Related genres

Science fiction by country

History of science fiction

Main article: History of science fiction

Elements of science fiction

Character elements in science fiction

Plot elements in science fiction

Plot devices in science fiction

Setting elements in science fiction

The setting is the environment in which the story takes place. Elements of setting may include culture (and its technologies), period (including the future), place (geography/astronomy), nature (physical laws, etc.), and hour. Setting elements characteristic of science fiction include:


Cultural setting elements

Sex and gender in science fiction

Technology in science fiction

Themes in science fiction

Style elements in science fiction

Works of science fiction

Science fiction art

Science fiction games

Science fiction computer games

Science fiction role-playing games

Science fiction literature

Science fiction novels

Science fiction short stories

Venues for science fiction short stories

Science fiction video

Science fiction radio

  • Science fiction radio programs

Information sources

Science fiction in academia

Science fiction subculture

Science fiction awards

The science fiction genre has a number of recognition awards for authors, editors and illustrators.[6] Awards are usually granted annually.

International awards

Nationality specific awards

Themed awards

New artists / first works

Career awards

  • Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award—associated with the Nebula

Persons influential in science fiction

Creators of science fiction

Science fiction artists

  • List of science fiction and fantasy artists

Science fiction film-makers

Creators of science fiction literature

Science fiction scholars

See also


  1. ^ "Science fiction - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". merriam-webster.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/science%20fiction. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "Definition of science fiction noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus". dictionary.cambridge.org. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/science-fiction. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "science fiction definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". science fiction definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta. http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?lextype=3&search=science%20fiction. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Marg Gilks, Paula Fleming, and Moira Allen (2003). "Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas". WritingWorld.com. http://www.writing-world.com/sf/sf.shtml. 
  5. ^ For example, Patrick Parrinder comments that "[d]efinitions of science fiction are not so much a series of logical approximations to an elusive ideal, as a small, parasitic sub-genre in themselves." Parrinder, Patrick (1980). Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching. London: New Accents. 
  6. ^ http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/index.html
  7. ^ SRSFF
  8. ^ srsff.ro
  9. ^ Silver, Steven H. (1 October 2003) "First Annual Norton Awards Presented" SF Site News, last accessed 20 October 2010
  10. ^ Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards, official website

External links

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