Writing Excuses Notes: Sci-Fi Sub-Genres

Here are some notes I took after listening to Writing Excuses.

It is an educational podcast that helps novelists/writers.

The topic is about Sci-Fi sub-genres.

It comes from Season 1, Episode 9.

Sci-Fi Sub-Genres

Sci-Fi Sub-Genres

  • Space Opera
  • Hard Science Fiction
  • Military Science Fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Cyberpunk


Why are the sub-genres important?

There is one category of writers who need to categorize their work and others that don’t.

You need to be able to identify similar works and draw the right audience with your niche.


What is a Space Opera? (Not about singing)

It is a travelogue. You see a lot of places, either planets or unique settings.

  • Space operas are like the missing link between science fiction and fantasy.

It is an adventure with a compelling main character with a good sense of wonder.

  • They’re about having fun vs. the harder levels of science.


What is Military Science Fiction?

Stories that describe military life, weapons, technology, tactics

Examples: The work of David Weber, John Ringo, Elizabeth Moon, Chris Bunch, John Scalzi

To write it you need to have credibility, either as a military person or from extensive research.

  • It’s basically space marines kicking butt. You need to consult the right people.


What is Hard Science Fiction?

The science is paramount. It has to be believable, correct and plausible.

  • It has an attitude. Fairly restrictive. You have to understand number crunching, like distance/speed.

It’s predicting the future. You have to know your science, without loosing sight of the plot/setting.


What is Dystopian?

Sad stuff.


What is Cyberpunk?

Tends to be near-future dystopian. Heavy modification of the human form.

  • Often blurs the line between humanity and technology. Trend projection.

Big, oppressive somethings are usually in control.


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