Welcome to part four of my series, “SCI-FI—X-TREME EDITION,” or “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sci-fi Subgenres.” The next two subgenres are a little more serious in tone than those explored in previous posts but for some, the dark tone is the appeal. Below you’ll find a classic and a popular example of each.
Fear is based on the unknown and there are a lot of unknowns in science fiction. From rampant artificial intelligence to alien monsters to genetic mutations, sci-fi has all your horror needs covered.
Investigating an alien distress call, the crew of the spaceship Nostromo finds themselves trapped with a hostile alien. Can’t get any more classic than that. Alien won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards, and a Hugo Award, among other nominations. The Library of Congress also selected it for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Based on Annihilation, first book of The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, the film follows Lena, a former soldier turned college professor of cellular biology. Investigating what happened to her soldier husband after he returns suddenly and with a mysterious illness, Lena joins forces with three other women venture into “The Shimmer,” a quarantined area where the rules of nature no longer apply.
Military Science Fiction
War never changes—or does it? Military Science Fiction takes battle to the stars to examine timeless themes in new settings and to ask how future technology might change the way we view and resolve conflict.
Physics student William Mandella is conscripted for an elite task force in the United Nations Exploratory Force and is sent out to battle an alien species far away from Earth. When Mandella finally returns home, the time dilation caused by space travel means he returns to Earth centuries after he left. Mandella must face reintegrating into a society as alien to him as outer space. The first novel in the series, The Forever War won a Nebula Award, a Hugo, and the Locus award.
Miles Vorkosigan has it rough. A chemical attack on his mother left him hunchbacked, noticeably short, and with incredibly fragile bones and the people of his home planet tend to be violently terrified of “mutants.” Add to that his father’s legendary military and political status and Miles feels like he just comes up, well, short. So, what’s a clever, determined young man to do? How about accidentally create a mercenary fleet and form a whole new identity for himself? Lois McMaster Bujold has won the Hugo Award four times in addition to two Nebulas, the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the Skylark Award, Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement, and two Hugo Awards for Best Series. She was also born and raised in Ohio! (And if it sounds like I’m fangirling over her, I absolutely am.)