Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The Science Fiction Hub

By Russell Forden Feb25,2024

Science fiction has an ‘anything goes’ quality to it that makes ordering it into some kind of thematic structure difficult, to say the least. This page is one such attempt at mapping all the themes and sub-genres of science fiction in an easy to read graphic of word clouds attached to each theme or area. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but to provide a general overview of the elements and areas that make up science fiction as a genre. It is hoped that the reader, by exploring the graphic, will be inspired to further investigate the concepts and works of science fiction that are of interest to them. With this in mind, the page also provides a version of the graphic’s word clouds and themes in table form, including representative examples of books, films and authors that correspond with each theme or sub-genre.

The information is intended to be used in conjunction with other sites for the reader to follow up and deepen their understanding of the items in the graphic. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia is one such site recommended here – especially its exhaustive Themes pages discussing the elements listed in the word clouds here. Another is the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, where the reader can search and find almost every speculative fiction story every written. The information is constantly updated and the stories are searchable according to varied Advanced Search criteria, including story, author, magazines and even tags, which can correspond to the themes and sub-genres listed here. The ISFDB also lists information about story availability in books and magazines, including prices. 

Major Themes of Science Fiction

Sub Genre/Theme/Response

Elements

Examples

Dystopia

Totalitarian

Resistance

Future cities

Law and order/disorder

Control

Static societies

Social Darwinism/Malthus

Ruined Earth

Pollution

Global warming

Reality and Appearance

Racial conflict

Cli fi

Science and tech revolutions/oppressions

1984, George Orwell

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

The Shape of Things To Come, HG Wells

Film: The Matrix

Film: Metropolis

Film: Blade Runner

Film: THX 1138

Jerry Cornelius stories, Michael Moorcock

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Rollerball

We, Yevgeny Zamyatin

Film: Star Wars

Jesus

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein

The Man In the High Castle, Philip K Dick

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Film: The Terminator

Utopia

Ambiguous

Future cities

Static societies

Space Habitats

Dyson Sphere

Social engineering

Gaia

Arcology

Psychohistory

Power sources

Pax aeronautica

Lost worlds

Atlantis

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin

Looking Backwards, Edmund Bellamy

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Dancers At the End of Time, Michael Moorcock

Always Coming Home, Ursula Le Guin

Film: Laputa

Film: Metropolis

Stranger In a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein

Utopia, Thomas More

Out of the Silent Planet, CS Lewis

Plato’s Republic

Science and Technology

Machine as monster/saviour

Scientist as redeemer/unchained

Mad scientist/chained

Anti technology

Internal dichotomies

Weather controlled/uncontrolled

Transport mishaps

Space elevator

Teleportation mishaps

Nukes

Quantum possibilities

Computers

Mutations

Other dimensions

Global warming

Space Habitats

Waldos

Invisibility

Kaiju

Radiation

Gravity/anti gravity

Automation

Mircronisation

Genetic engineering

Creating dinosaurs

Metaphysics

Nanotechnology

Transmutation

Telescopes

Relativity

Psychohistory

Power sources

The Roads Must Roll, Robert Heinlein

Film: Godzilla

The Chrysalids, John Wyndam

The Einstein Intersection

The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton

The Sheep Look Up, John Brunner

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton

Contact, Carl Sagan

I Robot, Isaac Asimov

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde, Robert Louie Stevenson

Time Travel

To the Past – common

To the Future – less common

Paradox

Alternate histories

Time police

Time scholars

Time gate

Time dilation

Single timelines

Multi timelines

Determinism

Time loop

Fourth dimension

Communications

Mythology

Portals

Relativity

Jonbar point

Prime directive

Pre history

Origin of humanity

Cosmology

Behold the Man, Michael Moorcock

Film: Back To the Future

The Time Machine, HG Wells

All You Zombies, Robert Heinlein

Timescape, Gregory Benford

Cyberpunk

Virtual reality

The Net

Online worlds

Cyberisation

Ghosts

Souls

Memories

Memory edit

Identity

Dream hacking

Neuromancer, William Gibson

Film: Blade Runner

Film: Ghost In the Shell

Film: Inception

Steampunk

Alternate history

Zeppelins

Goggles

Edisonade

The Difference Engine, Gibson and Sterling

Mortal Engines, Philip Reeves

Parasol Protectorate, Gail Carriger

Aliens

Alien types, Humanoid

Gestalt

Working with/friendly

Hostile

Indifferent

Enigmatic

SETI

First contact

Alien/human relations

Sex

Paranoia

Xenophobia

Alien anthropology

Area 51

Shapeshifters

Human evolution

Post human

Universal translator

Linguistics

On Earth/In Space

UFOs/existence

Abductions

Extraterrestrial

Slavery – by them/by us

Xenobiology

Symbiosis/parasitism

Racial conflict

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin

The Lovers, Philip Jose Farmer

Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Contact, Carl Sagan

2001 Space Odyssey, Arthur C Clarke

Who Goes There, John W Campbell

Film: ET

Childhood’s End, Arthur C Clarke

Riverworld, Philip Jose Farmer

Way Station, Clifford Simak

Films: Star Wars

Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C Clarke

Film: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Film: Star Trek First Contact

The Man Who Fell To Earth, Walter Tevis

TV: The Outer Limits, Controlled Experiment

Arena, Frederick Brown

Robots/Computers

Androids

Cyborgs

Bionics

Cybernetics

Superhuman

Computer is God

Droids

Automation/automata

Robo sapiens

Robot rights

Rogue robots

Totalitarian computers

Self determination

Three laws

Film: Blade Runner

I Robot, Isaac Asimov

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip Dick

Films: Star Wars

The Last Question, Isaac Asimov

Answer, Frederick Brown

Exploration/Colonisation

Space Opera

FTL

Star drives

Starship

Sublight speeds

Stargates

Warps and Wormholes

Generation ships

Space stations

Benevolent/aggressive

Slavery

Racial conflict

Shared worlds

Lost worlds/races

Atlantis

Terraforming

Black Holes

White Holes

Other dimensions

Future Histories

Portals

Prime directive

Pax aeronautica

Planets/Other worlds

Pocket universe

Stars

Suspended animation

Cryonics

Underground worlds

Underwater worlds

Anthropology

Taboos

Societies

Sociology

Relativity

The Boat of a Million Years, Poul Anderson

Contact, Carl Sagan

TV: Star Trek

TV: The Expanse

The Space Merchants, CM Kornbluth

Cosm, Gregory Benford

The Lost World, Arthur Conan Doyle

Journey To the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Alternate Worlds/Timelines

Parallel universe/worlds

Cosmology

Quantum elements

History

Jonbar points

Individual actions

What if?

Consequences

Man In the High Castle, Philip K Dick

Pavane, Keith Roberts

Harry Turtledove series

Anti Ice, Stephen Baxter

The Alteration, Kingsley Amis

The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

End of the World/Survivalist

Catastrophe/interregnum cycle

Natural disasters

Human made disasters

Nuclear fallout/winter

Radiated mutants

Pandemic

Zombies

Economic disaster

Cli fi

Controlling corporations

Tech disaster/machines/robots

Global warming

Social engineering

Social Darwinism

Overpopulation

Survival

Urban jungle

Greenhouse effect

Ruins and futurity

Ruined earth

Post catastrophe pastorals

Entropy

Apocalypse

The disaster novels, JG Ballard

Earth Abides, George R Stewart

A Canticle For Liebowitz, Walter Miller Jr

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson 

Barefoot In the Head, Brian Aldiss

Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban

Make Room Make Room, Harry Harrison

Film: Soylent green

The Sheep Look Up, John Brunner

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Films: The Terminator

Orbitsville, Bob Shaw

TV: Battlestar Galactica

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Always Coming Home, Ursula Le Guin

Film: Godzilla

Medicine/biology/psychology

 

Longevity

Sex

Cloning

Organ transplants

Micronisation

Superhuman

Memory edit

Drugs

Telepathy

Telekinesis

Identity exchange

Internal dichotomies

Biological engineering

Inner space

Devolution/evolution

Precognition/prediction

Superpowers

Post human

Apes as Human

Talents

Dream hacking

Mind/memory alteration

Behaviour modification

Mental Stress

Gender wars

Racial conflict

Overpopulation

Aging populations

Eugenics

Dreams/Surrealism

Transmutation

Symbiosis/parasitism

Rejuvination

Origin of humanity

The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

Methuselah’s Children, Robert Heinlein

Ubik, Philip K Dick

Camp Concentration, Thomas Disch

Barefoot In the Head, Brian Aldiss

Ballard’s ‘inner landscapes’

TV: Logan’s Run

Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Film: Minority Report

Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes

Film: Gattaca

The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula Le Guin

The Female Man, Joanna Russ

The Power, Naomi Alderman

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Films: Planet of the Apes

Film: The Manchurian Candidate

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

Comic: Superman

More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon

Odd John, Olaf Stapledon

Religion

Alien religions

Transcendence

Theosophy

Messiahs

Gods and Demons

Cults

Mythology

Cosmology

Big Bang

Black Holes

Iconoclasism

Taboos

Secret guardians/angels

Life after death

Determinism

Apocalypse

Case of Conscience, James Blish

Behold the Man, Michael Moorcock

Dune, Frank Herbert

A Canticle For Leibowitz, Walter Miller Jr

Stranger In a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein

The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin

Riverworld, Philip Jose Farmer

Military/Wars

Space Opera

Scientists chained

On Earth

In space

Against aliens

Against humans

Future war

Tech, Weapons

Mecha

WW3

Imperialism

Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein

The Forever War, Joe Haldeman

Films: Star Wars

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Film: Dr Strangelove

The Media/Advertising/Economics

Consumer Society

Television

Changing media

Cultural engineering

Communications

Subliminal

Politics

Totalitarianism

Brainwashing

Reality and Appearance

Global Warming

Expansion/growth

Corporations as govt

Information is God

Cyberpunk

Social engineering

Ideologies/approbation, etc

Inequality

Bread and circuses

The Marching Morons, CM Kornbluth

The Space Merchants, CM Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl

Film: Rollerball

TV: The Expanse

Film: Wall E

The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin

1984, George Orwell

Timescape, Gregory Benford

Film: The Manchurian Candidate

Neuromancer, William Gibson

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   

This is an ongoing project intended to be updated regularly. Much of the information and some of the ideas for the hub were drawn from or inspired by various science fiction encyclopedias and online information sites. These include The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1977), edited by Brian Ash, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978), consulting editor Robert Holdstock, and The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993), edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls. This site author thanks them for the work they’ve done in clearing the way for this present work.

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