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Writing Science Fiction

What is Science Fiction?

There’s little consensus on how to define science fiction. It’s a diverse genre without much restriction on the path a story could take. Science fiction boomed in the twentieth century, when our focus on technology and advancement exploded. Today, the science fiction genre plays a very important role in society and cultural thought.

Science fiction is broken down into subgenres:

  • Hard:This subgenre includes strict adherence to quantitative sciences (physics, etc.).
  • Soft/Social:These science fiction stories focus on social sciences like psychology or economics.
  • Cyberpunk:These stories are set in the near future and usually include the Internet or some sort of artificial intelligence.
  • Time Travel:This subgenre usually focuses on logical problems that exist in changing the past or future.
  • Alternate History:These stories are based on the premise that history happened differently than it did (either by being in an alternate universe or changing it through time travel).
  • Military:This subgenre includes some type of war and usually focuses on the soldiers in the conflict.
  • Micellaneous:Your story doesn’t have to fall into a subgenre. Many stories don’t.

Science fiction is different from other fiction and fantasy because what happens in the story should be somewhat possible within the realm of science and technology. It’s important to look beyond humanity’s current scientific situation when writing science fiction, but also to keep the tale believable. The story loses its appeal when absolutely anything is possible. Readers have to have to feel that the story operates within parameters that are exciting, yet somewhat familiar.

Can I write science fiction?

Anyone can write for this genre if they have the ability to look at the world around them and ask the question “what if?” Science fiction is concerned with science, but also with the consequences of technological advancement and alien ideas. The possibilities are endless with a little bit of imagination and the courage to look beyond reality.

Although there may not be a single human in your novel, science fiction, like all fiction, is primarily about people. Since your readers are human, it’s important to still examine your characters and their situations through a human viewpoint. Without a human-like perspective, readers will have no frame of reference and find it hard to empathize with the characters in your book. Readers find it hard to care about a character that is completely alien to them. Science fiction has to be a blend of imagination and reality to be compelling.

Good science fiction ideas can come from the world. Look around and then step outside of reality as you ask yourself “what if?” Some of the best science fiction written is based on a real-world issue, put into a new context with new characters, and addressed as an outsider would address it.

Where should I get ideas?

A good way to come up with ideas is to read the work of others. A mix of fiction and nonfiction literature can help spawn ideas that you wouldn’t have conceived by just reading one or the other. History is a great source for ideas. Many great science fiction writers were history buffs. Folklore and mythology also present excellent starting points for an exciting, original tale.

Science fiction has fewer restrictions than other genres, but it’s still important to understand what else has been done and take a look at successful science fiction stories. Your novel will be a hit with the science fiction audience when you hold it to the same literary standard of other popular sci-fi authors.

Marketing Science Fiction

Once the task of writing your novel is finished, it’s time to market. Science fiction is like any other type of literature; marketing the book starts with research. Spend time finding your target market. Where do they shop? What type of language do they use? What magazines do they read? What are their occupations?

Science fiction is the literature of ideas. That means science fiction readers like to discuss their ideas, usually in new and exciting ways.

The Web

Internet marketing is a great way to reach science fiction readers. Most people who pick up science fiction books are interested in cutting-edge technology and like to try out new things. Old, tired marketing techniques probably won’t work on this crowd. Many science fiction readers may belong to online forums, be part of a technology mailing list, or participate in chat room discussions about cutting-edge ideas. Be creative. Find a way to reach them online that is interesting and new.

Clubs and Conventions

Since most science fiction readers are interested in discovering what is new and exciting, conventions and clubs relating to technology may be another great way to promote your science fiction novel. Many national, regional, and local conventions take place all over the world every year. Find one that fits your goals for your book and try to publicize at the event. Linking your novel to something else that your readers are interested in increases its appeal. By being in areas where your readers enjoy going, you will convince them that your book is right for them.


Niche magazines are also an excellent way to reach your audience. Research to find publications that cater to your book’s subject. These outlets are a great place for you to attempt to get publicity or buy ad space. This approach will most likely be more effective than promoting to a mass audience.


Science fiction literature is taken seriously by its readers. Awards and recognition may be an excellent way to impress your audience and convince them to read your book. Some well-known science fiction awards are the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and Canada’s Aurora Award.

Remember to think like your audience, continue to research throughout your marketing campaign, and be open to new ideas.