So you’ve written a terrific science fiction story. Congrats! You’re excited to tell your friends. Some of them smile and nod, gently letting you know they’re not really into sci-fi. You keep telling people about your work until finally – success! You find a fan of the genre. Before you can get to the hook of your spiel, they hold up their hands in protest. “I need to know what kind of science fiction it is first. I only read certain types.”
Genres are tricky things. They provide handy shortcuts to make work accessible, but can also put up barriers to entry. Each person has a different opinion of what certain terms means. For some people, it’s not science fiction unless it features hard-bitten admirals flying fleets of spaceships into galaxy-spanning wars. Other people swears up and down that sci-fi is all about special bonds of friendship formed between humans and aliens. Still others care only about future-dwelling desert nomads or highbrow political satire pieces.
Identifying the sub-genres of your work is one way to improve your story’s reception. The goal is to target your work to the exact type of reader most likely to enjoy it. The more detailed you get, the better. I know exactly whether a “neolithic, noir steampunk romance set in a fantastical alternate universe” is right for me; a generic tale of “alternate history,” not so much.
Today, we’ll talk specifically about several related science-fiction sub-genres involving governments, world-changing events, and the future.
Societies around the world have told tales of disaster and rebirth throughout history, often with religious connotations. The term ‘apocalypse’ originally meant ‘to uncover’ or ‘to reveal.’ It indicated a time in the future when ‘good would triumph over evil,’ ending life on earth as we know it – closely tied to the biblical concept of ‘Judgment Day.’ Over time, the term evolved to describe any global disaster (natural or man-made) with the power to permanently alter our world.
As good as it feels to see your fiction spreading among the masses, it feels even better to get paid for all the hours you’ve put into it. After all, you have to make a living one way or another. Why not make money doing what you love, and hone your craft at the same time?