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What Are the Different Types of Science Fiction Author?

By Meghan Perry
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several types of science fiction author. They can be classified either by the type of writing or type of science fiction. The kinds of writing can range from very short, such as vignettes, to very long, such as novels. The types of science fiction can range from hard science fiction to cyberpunk to humor. While science fiction authors may utilize a variety of writing, they generally focus on one type of science fiction.

One type of science fiction author could write mostly short stories. Generally, the shortest type of story is called a vignette or flash fiction. Vignettes can be as short as a scene and are usually about four pages or less in length. This type of story often focuses on one event, one scene, or one character. The science fiction author doesn't have much space, so the story itself should be very focused.

A science fiction author can also write short stories, which are generally about 20 pages or less in length. This type of fiction offers a little more space for the development of the story, but it should still be pretty focused. These types of stories often appear in science fiction magazines or anthologies.

The mid-range length of stories for the science fiction author are either a novelette, which is generally 20 to 40 pages in length, or a novella, which is usually no longer than about 90 pages. The novelette is usually slightly more developed than a short story but is still quite brief. A novella is slightly longer and so offers a little more development opportunity for the science fiction author.

Perhaps the most common type of science fiction author is the novelist. Novels are the longest type of fiction and are generally at least 90 pages in length but can be as long as the author needs. There is no page constraint. Novels offer the most opportunity for the development of plot, characters, and events as they can be as long as necessary to complete the story.

Within the genre of science fiction, authors may also focus on a subgenre, or a specific type of science fiction. As there are a wide variety of options, authors generally do choose to focus on a specific subgenre, and two of the most common within science fiction are hard science fiction and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction is based on actual science, and the actual science is usually central to the plot. Soft science fiction, on the other hand, focuses on the so-called soft sciences, such as sociology or psychology. There are many other subgenres that authors may focus on in the field of science fiction.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Dec 28, 2014

@Mor - There is a lot more science fiction out there with huge holes in the science than there is perfectly plausible science fiction. Space operas, for example, are full of hand waving and no one worries about it.

Some of the best science fiction stories are just about asking "what if?" rather than trying to figure out exactly how it happens, step by step. It's usually only hard science fiction that's really concerned with facts.

By Mor — On Dec 28, 2014

@browncoat - What gets me about that is not just the fact that it's kind of snobbish to claim that one genre is not worthy of being called literary (Ursula K. LeGuin will have words for anyone who refuses to see science fiction as true literature), but that if you aren't willing to read science fiction as inspiration, your science fiction is probably going to be bad.

That's not to say the writing will be bad. It might be very good. But a recent example I saw (at the movies, adapted from the book) is an excellent case in point. Never Let Me Go has some really beautiful moments and deep themes, but as science fiction it falls completely flat and anyone who spent any time reading sci-fi would have been able to point out the plot holes with ease.

Now I know the argument is usually that the science isn't the point in this case, but honestly, if you can't be bothered following the rules of the world, then write fantasy instead of science fiction. It would be less irritating for the readers.

By browncoat — On Dec 27, 2014

Science fiction is hopefully edging closer and closer towards acceptance as mainstream and literary works (when applicable). But at the moment another kind of science fiction author are the ones who claim they aren't writing science fiction, because they don't want the label (or perhaps their publisher is denying it for them). Margaret Atwood, for example, often writes science fiction but isn't usually considered a science fiction author so much as just a literary author.

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