Jul 12, 2013

July Genreflecting: Science-Fiction: The Details

Genreflecting wordle

Based on the Collins English Dictionary, a subgenre is "a category that is a subdivision of a larger genre." (Source) Science-fiction probably has the largest collection of subgenres that, honestly, I didn't even consider under science-fiction. My brain has always been stuck in the aliens and technology vein, but there is a lot more to science-fiction than just that. What's really important in science-fiction is "their appreciation of the moral and philosophical implications of either the created world or the characters' roles in that world. These books also tend to stretch the imagination and scientific merit of the elements of the story." That being said there are several common subgenres that we can explore. I tend to read on a few of these and I'm pretty sure that my longtime readers can pick them out easily. :)

  • Adventure: These books are usually action-packed and involve some sort of campaign against an opposing force. The main character is oftentimes the hero and almost always our narrator. Probably the most famous series in this subgenre is the Ender series by Orson Scott Card.
  • Hard science-fiction: These books are what always pop into my mind when I hear science-fiction because science and technology are the focal points. The actual subject matter can vary from genetic engineering to space exploration to cyborgs. While normally you can suspend your imagination with science-fiction books, this specific type is given better credibility and readability if they are believable.
  • Humorous: As implied by the name, these books have an element of levity that drives laughter. Whether it's due to strange characters, unique situations, or satire, these books are very entertaining. Obviously the Hitchhiker's series by Douglas Adams is a popular favorite.
  • Aliens/supernatural powers: While these don't necessarily go hand in hand, I figured since they both dealt with the "other" that they could be easily combined. Aliens in science-fiction allow for a plethora of interpretation. They can be hostile or docile and they can be invaders or the invaded. Either way, there is ample room for exploration. Supernatural powers can also be very open as they can be engineered or accidentally triggered or simply be a normal part of the book's population. Lots of room to go any multiple directions.
  • Utopia/dystopia/post-apocalyptic: Imagine paradise. Now imagine what happens with paradise doesn't go as planned. Now imagine what happens when the world as you know it ceases to function or exist. There you have the beginnings of these three types of  books. They kind of all go together because it doesn't necessarily matter when they take place, what matters is how the people in the book cope with what they are facing or trying to create. These books have seen a huge uptick in numbers since the explosive popularity of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
There are just as many themes that emerge in these subgenres, but I don't think they can stand on their own without the support from one of these aforementioned groupings. What I love most about these types of books is their open availability to be transferred to film. Now, before you start yelling at your screens or throwing rotten tomatoes, understand this: I try to keep my book-based understanding and my movie-viewing experiences separate. Too many times have I had one or the other ruined for me because of how the other treated it. Now I simply enjoy (or enjoy mocking) each one respectively, but 9/10 times I will read the book over seeing the movie. Check out this list of upcoming book to movie adaptations!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (#2) November 22, 2013
Ender's Game November 1, 2013
The Maze Runner February 14, 2014
Divergent March 21, 2014

And those are just the ones we know of so far! Give me a shout out in the comments if you know of more!

Be sure to check back next week when I review the classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

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