What is science fiction about? A Beginner's Guide for Sci-Fi Novices

People who often read science fiction have their own understanding of how science fiction should be classified. Although they sometimes cannot accurately describe the names and meanings of these categories, they use this set of classification criteria all the time subconsciously: when choosing science fiction books , When following sci-fi writers, chatting with people, downloading sci-fi movies... all are affected by the classification in your heart. The favorite sci-fi category is always the first to pay attention, and the category that you don't like is basically ignored. All in all, just like when you look at the opposite sex, you can know right away whether it is the type you like.

But for non-sci-fi fans, who are just entering the field of sci-fi, facing the vast sea of sci-fi books, they may be confused when choosing. At this time, you need to subconsciously understand the classification of science fiction, and choose your own "dish" according to the theme and style of different categories of science fiction.

So, how is science fiction classified? In fact, as far as I know, there is no authoritative conclusion about the classification of science fiction. A very simple and crude classification is to divide science fiction into two categories: hard science fiction and soft science fiction. This classification is so common and so misused that it is familiar to non-sci-fi fans. The so-called hard science fiction refers to the general idea that the text is permeated with scientific and technological terms, the background setting and the things and technologies appearing in the text are all reasonable extensions and imaginations on the current real technology, and the storyline mainly relies on science fiction driven by technology; In other words, it has high technical content and is relatively "hard-core". The opposite is soft sci-fi.

What needs to be specially stated here is that although soft science fiction is soft, its world view and story structure are in line with the spirit of science. If there are magical rings, flying brooms, magic elves, people who fight monsters and cultivate immortals, etc. in the text, and no scientific and reasonable explanation is given, then this is not science fiction, but fantasy and fantasy.

In addition to the distinction between soft and hard science fiction, as mentioned earlier, the classification of science fiction is a matter of opinion. Here, not too old sci-fi fans, I will share with you a classification of sci-fi novels, hoping to help sci-fi newbies quickly find sci-fi works that suit them, and by the way, be a good sci-fi novel and film and television drama. publicity.

1. Space Opera

The stories of this type of science fiction all take place in the vast universe, the solar system, the Milky Way, extragalactic galaxies... How wide the universe is, the scale of the story and the scene can be as grand. Interstellar warfare is the most common theme. Oh no, more precisely wars, conspiracies, crimes, adventures between different planets, different civilizations or different races, the heroic characters continue to grow in the ups and downs, the exciting plot, people and people, people and aliens, aliens Alternating with aliens, civilization and civilization, intrigue between planets, friendship and love, betrayal of trust, survival and destruction... Reading a sci-fi novel like this is like watching a Shakespeare opera at the opera house.


2. Cyberpunk

The so-called Cyberpunk novels refer to science fiction novels with themes of information technology, computer technology, online world, and virtual reality.

In the world of Cyberpunk, computers can be connected to the human brain, people can spend their lives in virtual reality, people have touch, taste, vision and other feelings in the real world, and at the same time, they can change their body shape, appearance and surroundings by changing codes Everything can be directly hacked into any thing (the code) in the form of code, and you can clone countless yourself. Of course, they also need to escape injury and death (viral infection). Also, cyberpunk science fiction is often dystopian. The ubiquitous control, corruption, totalitarianism, decadence, and despair are not only an irony to the real world, but also a worry and a warning about the impact of the future development of computers and networks on human society. There is also the ever-present question of self and existence: what is real? What is phantom? who I am? What is free will? What is the meaning of survival? What is the difference between humans and machines and digital life? What is the future of human evolution... For cyberpunk fans, cyberpunk represents the present and the future.

3. First contact class

The first contact between aliens and humans is also an important subject of science fiction. However, in science fiction, this kind of contact is more vivid and changeable: alien civilizations are diverse, alien life forms are unbelievably rich, alien cultural customs are colorful and gorgeous, and the process of their contact with human beings is turbulent, exciting, The impact on human society is different, the conspiracy and war between humans and alien civilizations... In short, how far the imagination can go, how far the first contact can go.

Of course, most science fiction that falls into other categories, in addition to fiction purely about first encounters, also involves extraterrestrial life.

4. Future world class3.jpg

In a nutshell: science fiction that paints a picture of the world to come. In the golden age of science fiction, the future world in science fiction is a prosperous world supported by science and technology, showing the optimistic vision and confidence of science fiction writers in the future. In recent science fiction, dystopia and doomsday are the main themes: natural disasters, energy depletion, environmental degradation, genetic engineering, multinational corporations that control the fate of mankind, deranged conspirators, desperate and indifferent crowds, raging diseases, The proliferation of cult societies, the continuous poverty and depravity, the bustling criminals and homeless... Science fiction writers are committed to reflecting on the other side of technology and what it will bring.

5. Time Travel Class

If the selection is in non-sci-fi novels and film and television works, which type of sci-fi material is most often used for reference, the winner should be time travel.


In science fiction, time travel is generally based on sound technological fantasies. Although there has not been any successful time travel experiment, Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum mechanics both herald the possibility of time travel. Wormholes, black holes, closed time-like curves, quantum teleportation… these are all potentially viable ways of time travel in physics.

The real problem with time travel is the logical paradox (aka causal paradox) it creates. Think about it: if you went back in time and killed your maternal grandfather, would you still exist? How can you go back to the past to do this when you can't exist? This is the famous "grandfather paradox". The paradoxes that time travel can create and the effects it has on society, others, and the traveler themselves are exactly what science fiction writers are concerned with.

6. Humanoids and Robots

Higher, faster, stronger, this is not only the slogan of the Olympic Games, but also the direction of the progress of human civilization.

Humans who have come all the way from the Stone Age seem to have stood at a fork in the road: should we continue to let our weak bodies drag down our developed brains, or should we transform into a certain meaning through genetic technology, chip technology, robotics, etc. What about "Superman"? When flesh and machinery can be fused at will, when clones and other individual "duplicates" can be used at will, how do we define human beings? Where is the line between humans and "humanoids"? What will the society look like?

On the other hand, with the rapid development and popularization of robotics and artificial intelligence technology, there is reason to believe that one day in the future, machines will really be as intelligent as humans. In fact, as early as more than 20 years ago, when an IBM computer named "Deep Blue" defeated the chess king Kasparov, people launched a world-wide debate about the superiority of the human brain and the computer. So, when the robot really has the ability to "learn", "think" and even "emotion", how will the robot view its creator? Can the "Three Laws of Robotics" guarantee human safety? How do humans deal with humanoids like robots, clones, etc.? How will the social form and social contradictions change...

These are the themes that are often discussed in science fiction. Seeing this, have you already discovered that science fiction is not only concerned with science and technology, but the humanistic concern above science and technology is the truth.

The classification of science fiction introduced in this issue is my personal experience. If you are also a fan of science fiction, do you have your own ideas about the classification of science fiction? Welcome to Panda Novel, leave a message to discuss and share