The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to science fiction:
Science fiction – a genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting. Exploring the consequences of such innovations is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".
What is science fiction?
- Definitions of science fiction: Science fiction includes such a wide range of themes and subgenres that it is notoriously difficult to define. Accordingly, there have been many definitions offered. Another challenge is that there is disagreement over where to draw the boundaries between science fiction and related genres.
Science fiction is a type of:
- Fiction – form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s). Although fiction often describes a major branch of literary work, it is also applied to theatrical, cinematic, and musical work.
- Genre – science fiction is a genre of fiction.
Science fiction genre – while science fiction is a genre of fiction, a science fiction genre is a subgenre within science fiction. Science fiction may be divided along any number of overlapping axes. Gary K. Wolfe's Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy identifies over 30 subdivisions of science fiction, not including science fantasy (which is a mixed genre).
Genres concerning the emphasis, accuracy, and type of science described include:
- Hard science fiction—a particular emphasis on scientific detail and/or accuracy.
- Mundane science fiction—a subgenre of hard sci-fi which sets stories on Earth or the Solar System using current or plausible technology.
- Soft science fiction—focus on human characters and their relations and feelings, often exploring psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science, while de-emphasizing the details of technological hardware and physical laws. In some cases, science and technology are depicted without much concern for accuracy.
Themes related to science, technology, space and the future, as well as characteristic plots or settings include:
- Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction
- Biopunk — centered around biotechnology and genetic engineering in general, biopunk uses some both (post)cyberpunk elements and post-modernist prose to describe a typically dystopian world of biohackers, man-made viruses, mutations, designer babies, artificial life forms, bio-genetic engineered human-animal hybrids and bio-genetically manipulated humans.
- Cyberpunk — uses elements from the hard-boiled detective novel, film noir, Japanese anime, and post-modernist prose to describe the nihilistic, underground side of a cybernetic society
- Climate fiction — emphasizes effects of anthropogenic climate change and global warming at the end of the Holocene era
- Dying Earth science fiction
- Military science fiction
- Steampunk — denotes works set in (or strongly inspired by) an era when steam power was still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian England — though with otherwise high technology or other science fiction elements
- Time travel
- Space colonization
- Space opera — emphasizes romantic adventure, exotic settings, and larger-than-life characters
- Social science fiction — concerned less with technology and more with sociological speculation about human society
- Mundane science fiction
Genres concerning politics, philosophy, and identity movements include:
- Christian science fiction
- Feminist science fiction
- LGBT themes in speculative fiction
- Libertarian science fiction
Genres concerning the historical era of creation and publication include:
- Scientific romance — an archaic name for what is now known as the science fiction genre, mostly associated with the early science fiction of the United Kingdom.
- Pulp science fiction
- Golden Age of Science Fiction — a period of the 1940s during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published.
- New Wave science fiction — characterised by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content.
- Cyberpunk — noted for its focus on "high tech, low life" and taking its name from the combination of cybernetics and punk.
Genres that combine two different fiction genres or use a different fiction genre's mood or style include:
- Alternate history science fiction—fiction set in a world in which history has diverged from history as it is generally known
- Comic science fiction
- Science fiction erotica
- Adventure science fiction—science fiction adventure is similar to many genres
- Gothic science fiction—a subgenre of science fiction that involves gothic conventions
- New Wave science fiction—characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content
- Science fantasy—a mixed genre of story which contains some science fiction and some fantasy elements
- Science fiction opera—a mixture of opera and science fiction involving empathic themes
- Science fiction romance—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and romance genres
- Science fiction mystery—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and mystery genres, encompassing Occult detective fiction and science fiction detectives
- Science fiction Western—fiction which has elements of both the science fiction and Western genres
- Space Western—a subgenre of science fiction that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers.
- Spy-fi a subgenre of spy fiction that includes some science fiction.
- Science fantasy
- Mystery fiction
- Horror fiction
- Slipstream fiction
- Utopian and dystopian fiction
- Superhero fiction
- Australian science fiction
- Bengali science fiction
- Canadian science fiction
- Chilean science fiction
- Chinese science fiction
- Croatian science fiction
- Czech science fiction
- Estonian science fiction
- French science fiction
- Japanese science fiction
- Norwegian science fiction
- Polish science fiction
- Romanian science fiction
- Russian science fiction
- Serbian science fiction
- Spanish science fiction
Elements and themes
The setting is the environment in which the story takes place. Alien settings require authors to do worldbuilding to create a fictional planet and geography. Elements of setting may include culture (and its technologies), period (including the future), place (geography/astronomy), nature (physical laws, etc.), and hour. Setting elements characteristic of science fiction include:
Cultural setting elements
- Political ideas in science fiction
Sex and gender
- Gender in science fiction
- Sex in science fiction
- Computer technology
- Weapons in science fiction
- Space warfare in fiction
Short story venues
- Science fiction film
- Science fiction on television
- Baen Free Library
- Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
- Science fiction studies
- Science fiction and fantasy journals
- Science fiction libraries and museums
- Science fiction conventions
- Science fiction fandom
- Science fiction organizations
Major awards given in chronological order:
|since 1953||Hugo Award||for general science fiction|
|since 1965||Nebula Award||for science fiction and fantasy|
|since 1966||Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (the Skylark)||for significant contributions to science fiction|
|since 1970||BSFA award||for British science fiction|
|since 1970||Seiun Award||for Japanese science fiction|
|since 1971||Locus Award||for science fiction, fantasy, and new authors (separate awards)|
|since 1972||Saturn Award||for film and television science fiction|
|since 1973||John W. Campbell Memorial Award||for best science fiction novel|
|since 1978||Rhysling Award||for best science fiction poetry, given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association|
|1979–1985||Balrog Awards||for the best works and achievements of speculative fiction in the previous year, in various categories|
|since 1979||Prometheus Award||for libertarian science fiction|
|since 1982||Philip K. Dick Award||for science fiction published in paperback|
|since 1987||Arthur C. Clarke Award|
|since 1987||Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award||for best short science fiction|
|since 1996||Méliès d'Or||for science fiction, fantasy and horror films|
|since 2003||Robert A. Heinlein Award||"for science fiction and technical writings [that] inspire the human exploration of space"|
|since 2006||Parsec Award|
|since 2016||Dragon Awards|
|since 2017||Nommo Award||recognise works of speculative fiction by Africans|
|since 2021||Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction||for the best Science Fiction Short Story by a New Author|
- Aurealis Award—Australian
- Chandler Award—for contributions to Australian Science fiction
- Ditmar Award—for SF by Australians
- Kitschies—for speculative fiction novels published in the UK
- Constellation Awards—for the best SF/fantasy film or television works released in Canada
- Prix Aurora Awards—for Canadian science fiction
- Sunburst Award— Juried award for Canadian science fiction
- Paul Harland Prize—for Dutch SF
- Stalker Award—for the best Estonian SF novel, given out on Estcon by Eesti Ulmeühing, the Estonian SF society.
- Tähtivaeltaja Award—for the best SF novel released in Finland
- Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire—France since 1974
- Prix Jules-Verne—France 1927–1933 and 1958–1963
- Prix Tour-Apollo Award—France 1972-1990
- Premio Urania—for Italian SF
- New Zealander
- Pacific Northwestern
- Endeavour Award—for SF by Pacific Northwest author
- Big Roscon award for outstanding contribution to science fiction
- Prometheus Award—best libertarian SF—since 1979
- Lambda Literary Award—since 1988
- Tiptree Award—since 1991
- Golden Duck Awards—best children's SF—1992-2017
- Sidewise Award for Alternate History—since 1995
- Gaylactic Spectrum Awards—since 1999
- Emperor Norton Award—San Francisco—2003-2011
- Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards—2011-2014
New artists / first works awards
- Compton Crook Award—for best first novel
- Jack Gaughan Award—for best emerging artist
- John W. Campbell Award—for best new writer
- Writers of the Future—contest for new authors
- Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award—associated with the Nebula
- J.J. Abrams
- James Cameron
- George Lucas
- Christopher Nolan
- Ridley Scott
- Steven Spielberg
- Denis Villeneuve
Authors and editors
Science fiction scholars
- Brian Aldiss
- Isaac Asimov—Asimov on Science Fiction
- Brian Attebery
- Everett F. Bleiler
- John W. Campbell
- John Clute—co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls)
- Samuel R. Delany
- Hugo Gernsback—founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and the person who the Hugo Awards are named after.
- David Hartwell
- Larry McCaffery
- Judith Merril
- Sam Moskowitz
- Peter Nicholls—co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with John Clute)
- Alexei Panshin
- David Pringle—editor of Foundation and Interzone; author of Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels
- Andrew Sawyer
- Dorothy Scarborough
- Brian Stableford
- Darko Suvin
- Gary K. Wolfe
There are a number of science fiction media franchises of this type, typically encompassing media such as cinema films, TV shows, toys, and even theme parks related to the content. The highest-grossing science fiction franchise is Star Wars.
Space science fiction franchises:
- Alien (6 films since 1979 and 2 Alien vs Predator films since 2004)
- Babylon 5 (2 television series, 7 TV movies since 1993)
- Battlestar Galactica (5 television series and two TV movies since 1979)
- Doctor Who (TV series since 1963, 2 Dr. Who films since 1965, and 1 1996 television film, five spinoff TV shows (K-9 and Company, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood, K-9 and Class), video games and hundreds of books)
- Dune (23 novels since 1965, 1 film in 1984, 3 comics since 1984, 2 TV series since 2000, 1 film in 2021)
- Godzilla (36 films since 1954 and 3 TV series since 1978)
- Halo (since 2001, started from video game)
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (1 film, 1 TV series, 1 game, 4 stage shows, 3 radio programs since 1978, 6 novels)
- Independence Day (2 films since 1996)
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes (2 novel series since 1983 and 3 anime OVA series since 1988)
- Macross (4 anime TV series since 1982, 6 anime films since 1984, 3 manga series since 1994)
- Mass Effect (since 2007, started from video game)
- Men in Black (4 films since 1997 and animated TV series)
- Mobile Suit Gundam (21 anime TV series since 1979, 7 anime films since 1988, successful model kits since 1980)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (1 anime TV series since 1995 and 5 anime films since 1997)
- Planet of the Apes (9 films and 1 TV series since 1968)
- Predator (5 films since 1987 and 2 Alien vs Predator films since 2004)
- Robotech (1 anime TV series and 5 anime films since 1985)
- Space Battleship Yamato (5 anime TV series since 1974 and 7 anime films since 1977)
- Starcraft (since 1998, started from video game)
- Space Odyssey (2 short stories since 1954, 2 films since 1968, 4 novels since 1968, 1 1972 book)
- Star Trek (7 live-action TV series since 1966, 3 animated TV series, 13 Theatrical films: 6 Original Series films since 1979, 4 Next Generation films since 1994 and 3 reboot films since 2009)
- Star Wars (9 episodic "Saga" films since 1977, 1 1978 TV film, 2 Ewok films since 1985, 1 2008 The Clone Wars film, 2 "Anthology" films since 2016, 4 canon animated TV series since 2008, 4 canon live-action TV series since 2019, 3 Legends TV series since 1985)
- Stargate (4 TV series and three theater film since 1994)
- The Expanse (8 novels and 1 television series since 2011)
- Transformers (28 TV series since 1984, 4 animated films since 1986, 6 live action films since 2007, started from toy line)
- Ultra Series (34 TV series since 1966 and 29 films since 1967)
- The War of the Worlds (half a dozen feature films, radio dramas, a record album, various comic book adaptations, a number of television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors since 1897)
- Warhammer 40,000 (family of tabletop wargames first published in 1987 by Games Workshop, hundreds of novels by Games Workshop's in-house publishing company Black Library, dozens of video games, and several short films and web series officially published by GW. Games Workshop recently signed a development deal with Amazon Studios to develop a Warhammer 40,000 TV series, with Man of Steel and The Witcher star Henry Cavill as both producer and playing a starring role.)
- "Science fiction - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- "Definition of science fiction noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- science fiction definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Gilks, Marg; Fleming, Paula & Allen, Moira (2003). "Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas". WritingWorld.com.
- For example, Patrick Parrinder comments that "[d]efinitions of science fiction are not so much a series of logical approximations to an elusive ideal, as a small, parasitic subgenre in themselves." Parrinder, Patrick (1980). Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching. London: New Accents.
- "Science Fiction Awards Index". Locus Magazine.
- "The Hugo Awards". The Official Site of The Hugo Awards. 18 July 2007. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
- "The E. E. Smith Memorial Award". New England Science Fiction Society, Inc. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
- "The John W. Campbell Memorial Award". Christopher McKitterick. Aug 10, 2021. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
- "The Balrog Awards". Locus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-10-16. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
- "Prometheus Awards". Libertarian Futurist Society. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
- "2022 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced". Philip K. Dick Award. 11 Jan 2022. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
- "Robert A. Heinlein Award". Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
- "About Nommos". African Speculative Fiction Society. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
- "Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction". Locus Magazine. 8 December 2020. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
- "SRSFF | Societatea Romana de Science Fiction si Fantasy". Retrieved 2022-12-29.
- "This is fiction: What is Roscon and why", mos.ru, 11 April 2017 (retrieved 15 September 2019)
- "Emperor Norton Award". science fiction awards database. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
- Science Fiction (Bookshelf) at Project Gutenberg
- SF Hub—resources for science-fiction research, created by the University of Liverpool Library
- Science fiction fanzines (current and historical) online
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America—their "Suggested Reading" page
- Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame
- Science Fiction Research Association
- Science Fiction at the Internet Archive
- (in Russian) Ковтун Е. Н. Художественный вымысел в литературе 20 века. — Высшая школа, 2008. — 1500 экз. — ISBN 978-5-06-005661-7.
- (in Russian) Жанры — рубрика журнала «Мир фантастики»
- (in Russian) Вячеслав Бабышев Внешние и внутренние жанры фантастики // Уральский следопыт. — 2014. — № 11 (689). — С. 81-84.
- (in Russian) Жанры фантастики на Фантлабе.
- (in Russian) Классификация фантастики на сайте «Фэнта Зиландия».