Subject: SF Criticism

Terms used in the criticism or discussion of science fiction, e.g. names of genres or tropes.



Word Definition
Ellisonian adj. (1954) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of Harlan Ellison
epic fantasy n. (1961) = high fantasy n.
fan fiction n. (1938) fiction, usually fantasy or science fiction, written by a fan rather than a professional author, esp. that based on already-existing characters from a television series, book, film, etc.; (also) a piece of such writing
fantascience n. (1934) = science fantasy n. 3; science fiction n. 2
fantasist n. (1923) a writer of fantasy n. 1
fantastic n. 1 (1923) of a creative work: that which has the qualities of fantasy n. 1
fantastic n. 2 (1937) a work of fantasy n. 1
fantastic adj. (1930) having the quality of fantasy n. 1
fantastical n. (1995) of a creative work: that which has the qualities of fantasy n. 1
fantasy n. 1 (1931) a genre of fiction which contains elements of magic or the supernatural, frequently set in a world other than our own
fantasy n. 2 (1933) a work (story, film, etc.) in the fantasy genre
fix-up n. (1975) a novel constructed from shorter material written separately
Flash Gordon adj. (1938) used attributively to indicate something science-fictional, especially relating to or suggestive of stereotypical or hackneyed science fiction; Buck Rogers n.
Frankenstein complex n. (1947) Isaac Asimovโ€™s term for: the anxiety and distrust humans feel for robots
future history n. (1937) a fictional, self-contained, consistent, chronological framework (esp. realized across a body of work); (also) the subgenre of science fiction that uses such a framework
future war n. (1931) a subgenre of science fiction dealing with warfare and how it will be practiced in the future
gadget story n. (1942) a story in which the primary focus is on inventions or the process of inventing
genre n. (1993) the literary fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror collectively; imaginative fiction
genre fantasy n. (1977) stories, novels, etc. that are explicity written or published in the genre of fantasy, as opposed to ones which contain fantastic or supernatural elements but are written or published as mainstream or in another genre
genre science fiction n. (1971) stories, novels, etc. that are explicity written or published as science fiction, as opposed to ones which contain science fictional elements but are written or published as mainstream or in another genre
Gernsbackian adj. (1952) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing that appeared in the magazines edited by Hugo Gernsback, esp. in featuring extensive discussions of scientific or technological issues
golden age n. (1948) a period in the past regarded as the time when science fiction was at its best
grandfather paradox n. (1939) a paradox concerning the implications of time travel, expressed by the idea that a hypothetical time traveller could potentially go back into the past and (deliberately or inadvertently) kill his or her grandfather, thus preventing the time travellerโ€™s existence and the possibility of having travelled back into the past in the first place; cf. time paradox n.
grimdark n. (2008) a subgenre of (esp. fantasy) fiction characterized by a nihilistic, violent, and dystopian atmosphere or setting
Hamiltonian adj. (1939) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of Edmond Hamilton
hard science fiction n. (1957) science fiction that does not violate known scientific laws; science fiction based or focused on the hard sciences
Heinleinian adj. (1956) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of Robert Heinlein
heroic fantasy n. (1961) = sword and sorcery n.
high fantasy n. (1971) a subgenre of fantasy set in an imaginary world, typically having a medieval-style society and level of technology, usually featuring a quest or a conflict between Good and Evil, and often written in an elevated style
hobbitry n. (1944) the cult of hobbits; hobbits collectively, or their qualities
horror n. (1898) a genre intended to create a feeling of fear in the reader or viewer, especially one employing supernatural elements or monstrous creatures
Hugo n. (1953) any of several awards presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention for excellence in science fiction or fantasy writing, art, publishing, etc.
imaginative adj. (1914) denoting a genre of literature, etc. that is not realistic or mimetic; science fiction, fantasy, and horror collectively
impossible story n. (1913) esp. in the early pulp era: a work of imaginative fiction; a different story n.
infodump n. (1978) a large (often unwieldy or indigestible) amount of information supplied all at once; spec. as background or descriptive information in a narrative
infodumping n. (1995) the practice of using infodump n. in literature
inner space n. (1920) the human mind; the innermost parts of oneโ€™s psyche
interplanetary n. (1927) a story about interplanetary travel
Jonbar adj. (1977) in time-travel or alternate-history contexts: denoting a point at which a (trivial) action can result in a significantly different timeline (chiefly in form Jonbar hinge, Jonbar point)
Kornbluthian adj. (1941) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of Cyril M. Kornbluth
legendarium n. (1951) a body or system of myths, legends, stories, etc., concerning or relating to a particular fictional world; a work or body of work containing this
Lovecraftian n. (1944) a devotee or follower of H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraftian adj. (1927) of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, esp. in featuring elements of supernatural and often existential horror
mad scientist n. (1883) a scientist who is insane or eccentric, esp. so as to be dangerous or evil: a stock figure of melodramatic horror stories
mainstream adj. (1953) belonging to or characteristic of the dominant or traditional literary modes, especially representational fiction
manga n. (1951) a Japanese genre of cartoons and comic books, typically drawn in a meticulously detailed style, usually featuring characters with distinctive large, staring eyes, sometimes including violent or sexually explicit material
Mary Sue n. (1976) a writer who inserts an idealized version of themselves in their own fan fiction n.; such a story or character
military science fiction n. (1979) a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the military and warfare, esp. when the setting is outer space or other worlds
mundane adj. 2 (2004) denoting a subgenre of science fiction characterized by a rejection of themes considered scientifically implausible (as faster-than-light travel, alternate universes, etc.)
near-future adj. (1954) denoting a subgenre of science fiction set in a future recognizably similar to a contemporary setting, having only moderate differences in technology