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What is Sci-Fi?

Welcome to Sci-Fi July! This month, the Henlo Press will be exploring the many facets of the science fiction genre, and discussing some of our favorite works. Science fiction is one of most beloved genres, but before we can explore it, we have to answer this question: What is science fiction?

Science fiction, or sci-fi, is a large overarching genre that covers many niche sub-genres. Most people will immediately think of Star Wars or Star Trek, but these are just two long standing works under the umbrella. According to, there are 8 sub-genres of science fiction:

1. Fantasy - often inspired by mythology or folklore

2. Supernatural - inspired by supernatural human abilities

3. Utopian - “perfect” societies, mostly satire

4. Dystopian - problematic societies, deals with many societal issues

5. Space Opera - lots of adventure, romance, politics, etc.

6. Space Western - like the space opera, but with Western themes

7. Cyberpunk - super advanced tech, but a degraded society

8. Steampunk - super advanced tech, but powered by steam.

This is a grossly oversimplified generalization of each subgenre, but I’m sure by now, you’ve realized that some of your favorite books and movies knock on the door of one or more of them. There’s more here to explore, though. Not only is there a mix of sub-genres, but sci-fi also has several key elements like:

  • Futuristic advancement of technology

  • Time and/or space travel

  • Advanced or superhuman abilities (telepathy, telekinesis, etc.)

  • Extraterrestrial life

  • Other worlds/Fictional worlds.

There is more than one way to write it too. Some writers will base their stories on natural sciences (“hard” sci-fi), and some will base theirs in social sciences (soft sci-fi). But it’s not all about the science. Good sci-fi will explore themes like politics, discrimination, poverty, consumerism, and war, just to name a few.

The biggest thing about sci-fi, though, is that it asks you to suspend your disbelief, and pretend like the things you’re reading about could potentially be real, if not now, then in the future. We can argue that fantasy does the same thing, but sci-fi really asks you to trust and believe in it; imagine that the world the book or film is building could exist. But this is a discussion for another time.

This is just a quick examination of the genre, and isn’t all inclusive. I hope, though, that it’ll give you an idea of what science fiction is about. This is an excellent genre full of creativity, and we can’t wait to spend this month talking about it with you! Follow us on Facebook and on our blog to see what discussions we’ll have in Sci-Fi July!

With love,

Your friend at the Henlo Press

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