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The Genres Of Science Fiction & Fantasy - Part 5

Updated on September 30, 2009

In more contemporary fiction, Alternate Reality has taken on the added weight of the universe, giving birth to specialized sub-genres like Parallel Universes and more in-depth time travel stories like Stargate. The sub-genre of Parallel Universes might well have come from the discovery of singularities in the universe, as well as other spatial phenomena, that allowed for the possibility of traveling to other places aside from our own galaxy.

By far the most wide-ranging of the Science Fiction sub-genres, Alternate Reality encompasses many other further sub-classes, including one of the most popular types of works from the Sixties and Seventies: Post-Apocalyptic. With the conclusion of WWII, many around the world thought that nuclear weapons would be the downfall of the world as it was. And who better at this type of work than Ray Bradbury, with such works as his short story, The Tick-Tock Man, and novel, Fahrenheit 451, both of which take us to a world in the very plausible future.

Later, following in the steps of Verne and Wells, and their more technologically-focused works, authors like Isaac Asimov began writing the truly modern Prometheus story with the introduction of robots and artificial intelligence. This obsession with what man can create that is both equal to and yet, at the same time, subordinate to mankind, has produced some of the greatest works of both literature and film (many from the same work).

In modern times, a move towards the more dramatic has produced literature and television shows focusing on characters and their interactions with technology and aliens. With the Women's Liberation Movement and the Sexual Revolution, readers wanted stories that told something about people, rather than things. So Science Fiction went in stride and created the very contemporary "Sci-Fi" (which most people use to refer to any work of Science Fiction).

Contemporary works like this are more aptly called "Space Opera" because of their very dramatic focus; yet it draws innumerable audiences who like to dream of the future without the complication of intriguing plot-lines and "what ifs". These Futuristic sub-genres have originated movies like "Armageddon" and television shows like "Star Trek".

As times goes on, and the genre continues, the focus will not doubt change many times, as it has even in the past decade as cloning and gene splicing have become predominant in modern science. In the future, stories might even turn to retell, perhaps even accurately, the first encounter with alien life-forms. For now, though, let us daydream about our "Close Encounters" and the "Signs" our galactic friends leave us.


Spawned from the brainchild of a linguistically-oriented mythmaker, Fantasy as a genre might well have its true origins as far back in the past as Greek mythology. With tales of multiple-headed serpents and gods that turned to swans, myth is, by far, one of the greatest influences on the most imaginative of the Speculative Fiction genres. With this in mind, one can see that even from its very basics, Fantasy is a new creature entirely from its counterpart, Science Fiction. And though both sub-genres have their similarities, they are still distinctively different.

Continued In: The Genres Of Science Fiction & Fantasy - Part 6

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