Science Fiction Sub-Genres, part six

Welcome to the sixth and final installment of the Science Fiction Sub-Genre overview. This has been such a fun project, let me tell you. I don’t remember the last time I wrote a series that spanned over two months like this.

Why are there so many science fiction sub-genres? Because they’re pretty different from each other, and everyone’s taste is different. It’s hard to say that a story about virtual reality belongs in the same category as a story about First Contact. While many of these sub-genres can be found blended together, it’s safe to say that any one of them is strong enough alone to tell a good story.

This information came largely from a site called Worlds Without End. Please check them out, they are awesome.

If you’re just joining us, here are the links to the other posts in this series.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

Terra Forming

This is a pretty popular subgenre, and it’s one I certainly enjoy. These stories are about creating a habitable landscape on another planet. I love these stories because they lend themselves so well to a cross-genre horror story. Imagine the terrors that might come along with creating a new world on a cold planet. (Insert maniacal laughter.)

Some examples of terraforming are Farmer in The Sky by Robert Heinlein, and Building Harlequin’s Moon, by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper. (I would love to say that Godfrey from Station 86 was inspired by Farmer in The Sky. He’s not, I literally just heard of this book right before writing this very paragraph. But you can bet that book is on my to-read list now.)


With how heavily faith-based my Woven series is, you’d think my science fiction would be right in this Science Fiction Sub-Genre’s wheelhouse.

It’s not, and I guess I don’t really know why it hasn’t come up.

Anyway, you might have guessed that this sub-genre is about religion in science fiction. This is kind of a touchy subject (religion always is). But science and religion have a complicated relationship.

I haven’t really read anything personally that I would classify as theological. One that was given as an example by Goodreads (Insert link) was Flowers for Algernon. I personally haven’t read this, but I did see the play. Don’t know how much this had to do with Theology, but Goodreads probably knows better than me.

Time Travel

I guess I probably don’t need to explain this one too much. It’s time travel, we’re all pretty familiar. It’s traveling through time.

Of course, Dr. Who falls into this category. And so does my favorite fantasy series, Dragonriders of Pern. (Crazy, right?)


This sounds like such a cute, Sub-Genre, right? Uplift. It sounds, well, uplifting.

Be prepared to be surprised.

An uplift story is one about taking a semi-intelligent species that is transformed into an intelligent or super intelligent species.

You know, like Animal Farm. Or Planet of the Apes. Or the Island of Doctor Moreau.

I kind of love how deceptively nice this sub-genre is, for one that’s given us so many scary tales.


An Utopia story is the opposite of a dystopian story. It’s a perfect future, an ideal world. There aren’t a lot of these stories. I guess we writers don’t have that much imagination right now.

When I searched for examples of Utopian books, I got a bunch that I’d consider Dystopian, like The Giver and Brave New World. A few that I haven’t heard of are Men Like Gods by HG Wells, and Childhoods End, by Arthur C. Clark. I don’t think they seem particularly optimistic, but I haven’t read them yet.

Virtual reality

Finally, we come to the last of the Science Fiction Sub-Genres, Virtual Reality. This has been getting a lot of attention recently.

Pretty straightforward, these are stories about the wonderful world of VR, which I think we all wish really existed. I would love a holodeck to go play on.

Some examples of Virtual Reality books are Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which has been pretty popular recently. Another example is Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

I really hope you’ve learned something from this tour through the different Science Fiction Sub-genres. I know I have. I’ve certainly gotten a few good short story ideas out of it and added some books to my reading list.

Did I miss your favorite sub-genre? Tell us about it in the comments below!

ff9a8a_d364e70623f041a199d588b5124fcc3c-mv2Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

Get it free now, and enter the world of Station 86!



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