Sub-genre of the Week: Social Science Fiction
Last week I talked about Sword & Sorcery. This week we have something of an odd duck. Social Science Fiction is not a regularly accepted genre, but perhaps it should be. It lacks common conventions and tropes, and yet the focus on society, sociology, and anthropology makes the books within it distinct from others they may share some genre classifications with.
Social Science Fiction is a genre of SF revolving around the exploration of alternate societies, anthropology, and sociology. It’s a rather broad umbrella.
There’s no real history to this genre, since it’s not an established sub-genre, but rather a collection of disparate works that often appeal to the same group of people.
Much of it was published around the New Wave in the 60s and 70s. For example, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote most of her Hainish series during that period.
Common Tropes and Conventions
There are none, really, except that focus on the social sciences and possible future societies.
Pretty much any genre. Space Opera for The Hainish Cycle, Military SF for Starship Troopers. Near-future SF and Dystopia. (I argue that Dystopia is worth considering separately.)
There have been adaptions of many shorts stories and some novels, such as Flowers for Algernon and Starship Troopers, but otherwise firmly in the realm of print.
Hard to say considering it’s not a cohesive body of work. It’s certainly likely that more will be published in the future, as near-future SF is still pretty popular.
Goodreads list of Social Science Fiction.
(A lot of stuff on the Goodreads list is actually Dystopian, which I distinguish from Social SF.)
Check in next time for a discussion of Epic Fantasy.