Story Beginnings: forging new worlds in Science Fiction

Dreaming of writing a book, but aren't sure where to begin? Our Story Beginnings series explores the framework and key elements of writing genres and sub-genres, to help inspire you to craft a great story of your own.

Science Fiction (or Scifi), is a genre closely related to fantasy, the key difference being that it relies on science and technology to build its framework. However fantastic or theoretical its settings or technologies may be, good Scifi technology/culture/etc. are always still within the realm of the possible, or at least the believable. It often features alien worlds and creatures, events in space, potential and relatively plausible futures of humanity, and next-step technologies.

Scifi's tone runs the full gamut, with sub-genres including

  • Post-apocalyptic (world after a great calamity, such as technological warfare, a world war, or an alien invasion)
  • Dystopian (a corrupt or broken world in which the future of humanity is bleak)
  • Utopian (a perfect or seemingly perfect world system in which modern concerns have been solved by advances in technology or diplomacy)
  • Empire or Military (a colonization of the stars, usually involving treaties with other worlds or races)
  • Urban or Cyberpunk (a near-future, usually featuring next-step technologies, genetic enhancements, or arising crises such as global warming, zombies, terrorism).

When exploring historical contexts through the lens of Scifi, either by changing a specific moment in history, or through use of time travel, concepts of alternate history can also be explored.  

In theme, Scifi's main focus is to ask “what if”. Its goal is to present scenarios or technologies and examine what the world would be like in a particular scenario – and through it, how humanity (or comparative alien races) would be affected. It often requires some sort of conflict that can be resolved by the protagonist. This can be an internal quandary, or a systemic problem in their world or universe, to which they hold a possible key to solving.

Scifi often reflects our modern world or our human nature. Its focus of examining possible futures and the repercussions of those choices create an engaging and innovative genre.

Key Features: theoretical or hard sciences, aliens or advanced humans, examination of social structure, potential futures, technology, conflict resolution.

Examples of Scifi writers: Robert A Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Ayn Rand

Examples of Scifi books: Star Wars, Dune, A Brave New World, Neuromancer

FriesenPress Examples:

Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator