Subject: SF Criticism

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



Word Definition
adult fantasy n. (1932) fantasy intended for adults rather than children
Afrofuturism n. (1993) a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of Black history and culture
alternate future n. (1941) in time-travel contexts: one of a number of possible futures; cf. slightly earlier alternative future n.
alternate history n. (1954) a timeline that is different from that of our own world, usually extrapolated from the changing of a single event; the subgenre featuring such a timeline; (also) a story featuring this
alternate reality n. (1950) = alternate world n.
alternate universe n. (1950) = alternate world n.
alternate world n. (1944) one of many possible universes, which may have different physical laws or a different history than our own
alternative future n. (1939) = alternate future n.
alternative history n. (1976) = alternate history n.
alternative reality n. (1941) = alternate world n.
alternative universe n. (1944) = alternate world n.
alternative world n. (1943) = alternate world n.
anime n. (1985) a Japanese animated film or television programme, drawn in a meticulously detailed style, usually featuring characters with distinctive large, staring eyes, and typically having a science-fiction or fantasy theme, sometimes including violent or sexually explicit material; this genre of entertainment
BEM n. (1940) = bug-eyed monster n.
big dumb object n. (1981) a large, mysterious, alien-made artifact encountered in space or on another world
biopunk n. (1991) a subgenre of science fiction which focuses on the societal effects of biotechnology and genetic engineering
Buck Rogers adj. (1934) = science fictional adj.; characteristic of hackneyed or dated science fiction
bug-eyed monster n. (1939) a monstrous alien with bulging eyes, esp. as a stereotype
catastrophe adj. (1948) = disaster adj.
Clarke’s Law n. (1962) any of three maxims formulated by Arthur C. Clarke (sometimes specified as Clarke’s First Law, Clarke’s Second Law, Clarke’s Third Law): (a) ‘When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong’ (b) ‘The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.’ (c) ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’
conlang n. (1991) an artificially created language; esp. a language invented to represent the speech of an alien race
cosy catastrophe n. (No cites) see catastrophe adj.
counterfactual n. (1997) a work of alternate history n.
cyberpunk n. 1 (1984) a subgenre of science fiction typified by a bleak, high-tech setting in which a lawless subculture exists within an oppressive society dominated by computer technology
cyberpunk n. 2 (1984) an author of, or protagonist in, cyberpunk n. 1
cyberpunkish adj. (1989) resembling or reminiscent of cyberpunk n. 1
dark fantasy n. (1973) a subgenre of fantasy that features gloomy or frightening themes, incorporating elements of horror n.
different story n. (1919) esp. in the early pulp era: a science fiction, fantasy, or weird story; an impossible story .
disaster adj. (1975) designating a genre that deals with a global catastrophe (natural, man-made, or extraterrestrial in origin) and its aftermath
dystopia n. 1 (1952) a work set in a dystopia n. 2
dystopia n. 2 (1955) an imaginary place or state of affairs in which conditions are extremely bad; the genre of fiction set in such a situation; cf. utopia n.
dystopian n. (1868) one who advocates or describes a dystopia n. 2
dystopian adj. (1953) of or pertaining to a dystopia n. 2
dystopianism n. (1962) dystopian quality or characteristics
dystopic adj. (1967) of, pertaining to, or resembling a dystopia n. 2
edisonade n. (1993) a story featuring a young male inventor who uses his inventions and ingenuity to defeat his foes or to explore new territory
epic fantasy n. (1961) = high fantasy n.
fan fiction n. (1939) 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
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 (1947) a work of fantasy n. 1
fantastic adj. (1934) 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 (1932) a genre of fiction which contains elements of magic or the supernatural, frequently set in a world other than our own
fantasy n. 2 (1934) 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 Asimov’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