by LC Champlin
Twenty years ago, when I was starting to read fiction, I gravitated toward Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Times were simpler then, and so were the genres. If you picked up a Fantasy book, it had dragons, swords, magic, and castles. If you grabbed a Science Fiction book, there were spaceships, aliens, and strange planets. But we live in a different world now! Click on Fantasy on Amazon, and you’ll get more subgenres than there used to be main genres in all of fiction. Same for Sci-Fi.
This Tribble-like multiplying of subgenres didn’t rain down on me, though, until I attempted to select a genre category for my novel series. You see, I hybridized genres, which makes for a fun read, but is tough to class. My story is a fusion of Thriller (terrorists attack), Horror (terrorists unleash a plague that turns people into cannibals), Action-Adventure (running and gunning galore!), and Sci-Fi (the man-made contagion doesn’t reanimate corpses, and it comes with some technologically-advanced features). And those are just the conventional, main categories.
As I explored categories, I started to see an overlap of my two favorites, Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Could it be, I thought, that the two are not as diametrically opposed as they once were? In my quest for answers, I Googled “sci-fi subgenres” and “fantasy subgenres.” Taking the first sites on page one gave more info than I ever wanted.
These are the common Fantasy subgenres, according to Thoughts on Fantasy.
High Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy
Paranormal / Paranormal Romance
Fantasy Romance / High Fantasy Romance
Young Adult Fantasy (YA Fantasy)
Fairy Tale Retellings
Sword and Sorcery / Heroic Fantasy
Medieval Fantasy / Arthurian Fantasy
Gothic Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
The New Weird
But wait, there’s more!
These Sci-Fi subgenres are from SciFi Ideas.
Gothic Science Fiction
Mundane Science Fiction
Fanfiction (or ‘Fanfic’)
Make it stop!
How to make sense of this mess? How are you the supposed to find what you want to read? You can look up the definitions to all these genres, but I wanted a more overarching view. Why? Because nowadays, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have begun to fraternize with each other. I compared the descriptions, and found that no longer can you grab a Sci-Fi and know 100% that you won’t run into wizards. Or if you get a Fantasy, you won’t find aliens.
Thus, I bring you the down-and-dirty infographic, the Venn of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Like any Venn diagram, the overlapping bits hold items that can belong in either category, or have elements of the other category. Purple text are the subgenres that blend Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
What do you think of the proliferation of subgenres? How about the crossing of genres? Are there any you believe shouldn’t be classed together? Did I miss your favorite? Then comment!
PS: If you’re curious what I ended up with for my book Behold Darkness, I chose:
Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic
Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thriller
But I’m still experimenting.
About LC Champlin: I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls. As a lover of all things Geek and Dark, I admire villains, antagonists, and rogues more than a little. My books’ characters are antiheroes, not angels.