What’s in a Genre: Sci Fi

by | Nov 7, 2014

Last Updated:
May 27, 2017

Continuing my series of defining genres, in the hopes of finding the correct market for my dystopian WIP Friends of my Enemy, I thought I’d check out what it takes to be labeled science fiction this week.

This is definitely sci fi! But way more advanced than the plane in my novel!

This is definitely sci fi! But way more advanced than the plane in my novel!

Friends of my Enemy is set in our near future. The short stories begin in the year 2055 and the first novel begins in 2068. Despite worldwide setbacks and difficulties, technology, especially military technology, has moved forward. Mostly it comes down to some very high tech planes that are based on concepts we could achieve in a decade or so. But all the technology is in the hands of the military, and there isn’t much to go around there either. In a typical battle, guns or swords could be used, and only if things went really bad would one of the planes be risked.

So, would Friends of my Enemy cut the label for sci fi?

Well the definition on Wikipedia doesn’t make me hopeful. Though there are some fuzzy areas on what defines sci fi (like every genre so far!). But the consensus centers around exploring the consequences of scientific advancement. Beyond that, it often contains some variety of the following elements:

  • – A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.
  • – A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g. spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.
  • – Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots and other types of characters arising from a future human evolution.
  • – Futuristic or plausible technology such as ray guns, teleportation machines, and humanoid computers
  • – Scientific principles that are new or that contradict accepted physical laws, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel or communication.
  • – New and different political or social systems, e.g. dystopian, post-scarcity, or post-apocalyptic.
  • – Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation.
  • – Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.
This looks like dystopian sci fi... and way more tech than my WIP!

This looks like dystopian sci fi… and a lot more tech than my WIP!

The two elements my WIP has is the dystopian element and the futuristic technology. That does not make Sci fi sound like a very strong theme in the storyline; it’s more of a side note.

But what really makes me think that sci fi is not a great fit to label Friends of my Enemy is the definition at SF Site. Very simply, Amy Goldschlager describes sci fi as “A genre that extrapolates from current scientific trends. The technology of a science fiction story may be either the driving force of the story or merely the setting for a drama, but all science fiction tends to predict or define the future.” So technology is either the plot, when it misbehaves or becomes godlike, or suffuses the storyline.

I don’t think I would call the technology in Friends of my Enemy as the driving force or the setting. Often the lack of technology that we consider commonplace now defines their dystopian future world. Is there a genre for anti-sci fi? 😉 And after finishing my first read through of book 1, After the War, I would say that romance is a larger element than sci fi (trust me, I’m as surprised about that as you!). But will I label it a dystopian romance?!? Well, I’ll have to look into that… in a future post!

So I don’t think I’ll be tweeting about my great new sci fi/dystopian adventure novel. But that’s good to know. I don’t want to give potential readers expectations that don’t fit. No one wins that way!

How tech driven do you consider sci fi? Do you think sci fi has to take place in space?


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Written by: Autumn

Autumn is a best selling indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently settled in the wilds of Maine with her small dragonish dog and husband, searching for a portal to another world.

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