A Bit of Holiday Fun – Science Fiction’s Sub-Genres

I make no secret of the fact that I believe that breaking the science fiction genre down into marketing niches, otherwise known as “sub-genres” is a mistake, at least so far as reader discovery is concerned:  I believe that not only do these artificial divides probably prevent worthy works from being considered by maintstream publishers (“it’s good but it doesn’t fit any of our categories…how do we market it*?”) but I also believe that it discourages readers from obtaining a broad experience of the field:  why risk a potentially disappointing new read when there’s plenty of stuff identified as already being in your wheelhouse?

I think a rocket and planet sticker on the spine is sufficient identification, no further specifications needed.  (In other words, publishers should be asking “is it good science fiction?” and readers should be saying “it’s science fiction, good enough for me”.  *And I wish someone would explain to me how and when marketing shifted from “it’s a new thing, we’ll figure out how to sell it!” to “it doesn’t fit one of our narrow, pre-existing channels, so we can’t sell it!”).

But anyway.  The other day I was inspired to poke a little fun at the definitions of some of the various “sub-genres”, and the entire notion of comining up with an accurate definition of Science Fiction itself,  by offering alternative definitions.  It’s an on-going project – feel free to offer your own:

Speculative Fiction: Literature we’re not sure is fiction….

Science Fiction: “Fake News” from and for scientists.

Steampunk: Dry Cleaning vernacular: job title for the new hire working the pants press.

Hard SF: Stories that are rarely read to conclusion.

Mundane Science Fiction: The daily routines of people living in a science fiction world.

Alternate History: The reality you are experiencing right now.

DieselPunk: a street kid in desperate need of shampoo.

Military Science Fiction: House Armed Services Committee Budget

Science Fiction Romance: What happens at convention room parties.

Science Fantasy: “I am going to win the Nobel…I am going to win the Nobel…”

Soft Science Fiction:  Star Wars Plush Toys

Cli-Fi:  Female oriented soft core porn

Space Western:


Space Opera:



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