Spec Fic Sub-genre of the Week

A list of posts in the Spec Fic Sub-genre Series, describing rather than defining various sub-genres in speculative fiction.

(Please make sure to check the publication date.  These posts are scheduled to post on the appropriate day, so not all of the links are going to be functional.)

1. Series Introduction

2. Steampunk  Oct. 4, 2009

3. Series Revival

4. Urban Fantasy  Jan. 13, 2010

5. Series Re-revival

6. Space Opera  July 20, 2013

7. New Weird  Jul. 27, 2013

8. Magical Realism  Aug. 3, 2013

9. High Fantasy  Aug 10, 2013

10. Mundane SF  Aug. 17, 2013

11. Sword and Sorcery  Aug. 24, 2013

12. Social Science Fiction  Aug. 31, 2013

13. Epic Fantasy  Sept. 7, 2013

14. Dystopian  Sept. 14, 2013

15. Portal Fantasy  Sept. 21, 2013

16. Near-future SF  Sept. 28, 2013

17. Fairytale Fiction  Oct. 5, 2013

18. Cyberpunk  Oct. 12, 2013

19. Historical Fantasy  Oct. 19, 2013

20. Alternate History  Oct. 26, 2013

21. Dark Fantasy  Nov. 2, 2013

22. Post-apocalyptic  Nov. 9, 2013

23. Fantasy of Manners  Nov. 16, 2013

24. Military SF  Nov. 23, 2013

25. Time Travel SF  Nov. 30, 2013

(Titles without links represent completed posts scheduled to be released in the future.)


7 responses to “Spec Fic Sub-genre of the Week

  1. Sarah Weaver

    September 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    I’m wondering, how is Near Future distinct from Cyberpunk? I know is Cyberpunk the emphasis is placed on “High tech, low life.” And usually has adventures in cyberspace. Near Future may not necessarily have virtual reality. Or Augmented.

    • atsiko

      September 13, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      Cyberpunk technically does not require a near-future setting, for one thing. Further, Near-Future SF can hit a lot of SF topics and tropes, whereas cyber-punk mostly sticks with computers and the internet. There’s also the whole “punk” thing, which is where the low life comes in. Near-future doesn’t require that atmosphere of the underside of technology in the same way cyber-punk does.

      There’s not an easy answer, because of all of the overlap. But say, a story about a space-elevator that doesn’t include hacking or cyber-space can be near-future, but it won’t be cyberpunk.

      It’s sort of how like Urban Fantasy is a huge marketing thing now, but it’s technically just a sub-genre of contemporary fantasy. One is based almost entirely on a specific set of tropes and conventions, while the other is more of a time-period classification.

      As an example, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind-up Girl is near-future SF (among other things), but it’s not cyberpunk. You could make an argument for bio-punk, I guess). There’s no focus on computers or cyber-space, but it’s recognizably set on Earth, probably within the next 50 years.

      Does that answer your question?

  2. Sarah Weaver

    September 13, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    So like Military Sf could in theory also be Near Future. And yes, thanks.

    Do you think most SF genre’s are already established, or are new ones being created every day? I’m still looking for the William Gibson adaptation of Alice & Wonderland. (The sky beyond the looking glass, was the color of riddles. The mad hatter said, “It’s like I’m having this massive Hat withdrawals man!” A wonderland voice, and wonderland joke.)

    Sorry, I’m kind of a dork.

    • atsiko

      September 13, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Don’t apologize. Dorks are great. I love dorks. I am a pretty big one, probably.

      Military SF could be near-future, although I think that the Military part would override the near-future part as far as marketing and such is concerned, but it would still be a fair decriptor.

      I think the majority of SF genres for are mostly established, but if new technology comes out, or if some new tropes are introduced, you could certainly spark a new one. It’d probably be a rare occurrence, though.

  3. Sarah Weaver

    December 10, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    I’ve found myself in a bit of a predictamate. I used to use dreampunk, before I moved onto NumeroHex. But how much contemporary can a story include before its not spec fic anymore? I finished four projects that fall in a modern non futuristic setting, yet seems to include an early dream-based virtual reality. (Its like the internet, but pod protected.) I have a weird issue of
    creating new tech, instead of old tech.

    I know you mentioned mundane sf, but dreamspace is more underground. So its not mainstream. I’m a genre mess.:/

    • atsiko

      December 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Just call it near-future SF or cyberpunk and be done with it. It’s fun sometimes to nitpick, but chances are people will just call it one of the above anyway.

      • Sarah

        March 30, 2016 at 1:11 AM

        I was wondering, is there a genre that straddles the line between fantasy and sf without overt characteristics of either?

        Also a friend of mine is having a laugh about the father to poor to feed his daughter, but refuses to sell his car from the 1980s … in the 2100s. I accidently created a monster.


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