Outline of science fiction

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An illustration by illustrator Frank R. Paul, of inventor Nikola Tesla's speculative vision of a future war.

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.[1][2][3] Exploring the consequences of such innovations is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".[4]

What is science fiction?[edit]

  • Definitions of science fiction: Science fiction includes such a wide range of themes and subgenres that it is notoriously difficult to define.[5] 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 fiction – fictional works (novels, short stories) written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre. Also known as popular fiction.
    • Speculative fiction
  • 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:


Genres concerning politics, philosophy, and identity movements include:


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:

Related genres[edit]

By country[edit]


Elements and themes[edit]

Character elements[edit]

Plot elements[edit]

Plot devices[edit]

Setting elements[edit]

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[edit]

Sex and gender[edit]



Style elements[edit]




Computer games[edit]

Role-playing games[edit]



Short stories[edit]

Short story venues[edit]



Information sources[edit]

In academia[edit]



The science fiction genre has a number of recognition awards for authors, editors, and illustrators.[6] Awards are usually granted annually.

International awards[edit]

Major awards given in chronological order:

International Awards
Years awarded Name Description
since 1953 Hugo Award for general science fiction[7]
since 1965 Nebula Award for science fiction and fantasy
since 1966 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (the Skylark) for significant contributions to science fiction[8]
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[9]
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[10]
since 1979 Prometheus Award for libertarian science fiction[11]
since 1982 Philip K. Dick Award for science fiction published in paperback[12]
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"[13]
since 2006 Parsec Award
since 2016 Dragon Awards
since 2017 Nommo Award recognise works of speculative fiction by Africans[14]
since 2021 Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction[15]

Nationality-specific awards[edit]

  • Kitschies—for speculative fiction novels published in the UK
New Zealander
Pacific Northwestern
  • Big Roscon award for outstanding contribution to science fiction[18]

Themed awards[edit]


New artists / first works awards[edit]

Career awards[edit]

Influential people[edit]




Authors and editors[edit]

Science fiction scholars[edit]


Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim (SWCA) - From Droid Builder's Club Room

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:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Science fiction - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Definition of science fiction noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  3. ^ "science fiction definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". encarta.msn.com. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  4. ^ Marg Gilks; Paula Fleming & Moira Allen (2003). "Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas". WritingWorld.com.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Science Fiction Awards Index". Locus Magazine.
  7. ^ "The Hugo Awards". The Official Site of The Hugo Awards. 18 July 2007. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
  8. ^ "The E. E. Smith Memorial Award". New England Science Fiction Society, Inc. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
  9. ^ "The John W. Campbell Memorial Award". Christopher McKitterick. Aug 10, 2021. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
  10. ^ "The Balrog Awards". Locus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-10-16. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "Prometheus Awards". Libertarian Futurist Society. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
  12. ^ "2022 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced". Philip K. Dick Award. 11 Jan 2022. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
  13. ^ "Robert A. Heinlein Award". Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 28 Mar 2022.
  14. ^ "About Nommos". African Speculative Fiction Society. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
  15. ^ "Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction". Locus Magazine. 8 December 2020. Retrieved Sep 14, 2021.
  16. ^ SRSFF
  17. ^ srsff.ro
  18. ^ "This is fiction: What is Roscon and why", mos.ru, 11 April 2017 (retrieved 15 September 2019)
  19. ^ "Emperor Norton Award". science fiction awards database. Retrieved 28 May 2019.

External links[edit]