Planetary romance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Sword and planet)
Cover of Imagination, August 1953.

Planetary romance (other synonyms are sword and planet,[1][2][3][4] and (inter)planetary adventure[5]) is a subgenre of science fiction in which the bulk of the action consists of adventures on one or more exotic alien planets, characterized by distinctive physical and cultural backgrounds. Some planetary romances take place against the background of a future culture where travel between worlds by spaceship is commonplace; others, particularly the earliest examples of the genre, do not, and invoke flying carpets, astral projection, or other methods of getting between planets. In either case, it is the planetside adventures which are the focus of the story, not the mode of travel.[6]

A significant precursor of the genre is Edwin L. Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905).[7]

In Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (1985), editor and critic David Pringle named Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey two "leading practitioners nowadays" for the planetary romance type of science fiction.[8]

Comparison with other subgenres[edit]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction mentions two caveats as to the usage of the term. First, while the setting may be in an alien world, if "the nature or description of this world has little bearing on the story being told," as in A Case of Conscience, then the book is not a planetary romance. Second, hard science fiction tales are excluded from this category, where an alien planet, while being a critical component of the plot, is just a background for a primarily scientific endeavor, such as Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity,[7] possibly with embellishments. Allen Steele writes that while the label "space opera" has been pasted on any story away from Earth, it stands apart from "planetary romance", which he describes as a "close cousin" of "space opera".[5]

Cover of Planet Stories, Fall 1947.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dozois, Gardner (2015). "Return to Venusport". In Martin, George R. R.; Dozois, Gardner (eds.). Old Venus: A Collection of Stories. Random House Publishing Group. pp. xiii. ISBN 978-0-8041-7985-0. the Planetary Romance, also called Sword and Planet stories
  2. ^ Caryad; Römer, Thomas; Zingsem, Vera (2014). "Ein geplatzter Traum" [A Shattered Dream]. Wanderer am Himmel: Die Welt der Planeten in Astronomie und Mythologie [Wanderers in the Sky: The World of the Planets in Astronomy and Mythology] (in German). Springer-Verlag. p. 78. ISBN 978-3-642-55343-1. Das Subgenre der Sword-and-Planet-Romane (oder Planetary Romance) [The subgenre of Sword-and-Planet-novels (or Planetary Romance)]
  3. ^ Duncan, Randy (2010). "Fantasy". In Booker, M. Keith (ed.). Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-313-35747-3. The protagonist of "sword and planet", sometimes referred to as "planetary romance," fantasy, is [...]
  4. ^ Jones, Howard Andrews; Rhodes, Robert (2008). "Sword and Sorcery Fiction". In Womack, Kenneth (ed.). Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 978. ISBN 978-0-313-07157-7. a genre that some call sword and planet and that others describe as planetary romance
  5. ^ a b Allen Steele, Captain Future - the Horror at Jupiter, p .195
  6. ^ See Science Fiction Citations: Planetary Romance Archived 2008-01-08 at the Wayback Machine; and John Clute, "Planetary Romance", in Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, ed. John Clute and Peter Nicholls, 1995, ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
  7. ^ a b "SFE: Planetary Romance". Retrieved 2023-08-08.
  8. ^ David Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: An English-language Selection, 1949–1984, London: Xanadu Publ., 1985. p. 17. Pringle does not include any Bradley or McCaffrey novels. Introducing his selections, he says, "I admit to blind spots—for example, I have little affection for the type of sf story which has been called 'planetary romance'".

External links[edit]