I have a dilemma, and anyone’s opinion on the matter is valuable. The short version of my question is:

Is my story SciFi?

Here’s the problem:

When I think “SciFi,” I think space. I think aliens. These stereotypes are leftovers from being raised with Star Trek as the very definition of SciFi. Well, yesteryear I had a brilliant idea for a story. Basically, everybody over the age of twenty is killed by a disease. (NOTE: I looked up other stories of a similar nature after the fact, and realized that this sort of thing has been done. Mine’s unique, though. So there.) I thought, Okay, my story falls into the category of post-apocalyptic. Post-apocalyptic, it turns out, is a sub-genre of SciFi. Cool. No problem.

Except, when I think “Post-apocalyptic,” I think mayhem. I think the world just after it ended. Well, my story isn’t about the aftermath of the end of the world. It’s about the after-aftermath. The post-post-apocalypse, if you will. It’s set approximately one hundred years into the future–and again, “future” conjures up thoughts of SciFi–and the main character, Iris, has no idea that people used to live to be older than twenty. To Iris, twenty years is a lifetime. Living beyond that is unfathomable. A boy named Kaleb arrives in Iris’s town and says that he’s on a journey to find a cure for the disease that kills everyone at age twenty–a disease that Iris didn’t even know was a disease. So, curious mind that she is, she decides to go with him. The story is their journey to find the cure. It’s about how they bond. It’s about the journey to attempt to conquer death as they know it.

The thing is, although it’s in the future, there’s nothing technologically advanced at all.

The thing is, even though it’s after the apocalypse, it doesn’t seem very post-apocalypse-ish.

The thing is, even though it’s fiction based on science (the disease), it doesn’t seem very science fiction-y.

Honestly, I’ve read very few SciFi books. I would have read more if I’d known that one of my own story ideas would end up in that category. For all I know, there are a bunch of stories out there in the SciFi community that are similar enough to definitively put my book into the SciFi category. So what do you guys think? Do I have science fiction here, or do I have something else?


18 responses to “SciFi?

  1. I would call it science fiction. 😉 Possibly YA post-apocalyptic, based on the youth of the characters. There is a lot of that floating around (The Hunger Games & Uglies, just to name two). Very little of it is science fictiony a la Star Trek. Space opera is one of the most popular types of science fiction (especially on TV!) but it’s not the only SF subgenre.

    • Awesome! Thanks a ton. I thought so, but I wanted to be sure.

      It’s weird. I never would have pegged myself as a science fiction writer. It just sort of spilled out. 🙂

    • Hmm…interesting question. I guess I don’t really know. The first story I can remember writing was about an evil Cupid who was on a rampage, making the wrong people fall in love. It seems silly but it was almost on the cusp of magic realism.

      After that I sort of stuck with the idea of strange paranormal things happening in everyday life. My novella Catch and my short story Slips are both varying degrees of magic realism/urban fantasy.

      Yeah, that must be it. Magic Realism and Urban Fantasy. That’s where I pictured myself.

      Wow, that was long-winded. Hahaha.

    • Nice. I was thinking of doing a traditional fantasy, too, but I keep putting it off until after the next project and the next and the next… Someday, maybe I’ll actually do it.

      Do you have anything published that I could check out?

    • I feel you on that one. I’m on the final read through (not that there really IS such a thing) of my WiP and then I’m gonna send her off into the world and see how many rejections she can garner.

      I admire your flash fiction abilities. I’ve never been top ranking at flash, honestly.

  2. Yeah, at some point you just have to stop fiddling and send it out.

    Neither am I! LOL I started with drabbles, with the idea 100 words was very little, would take little time, and help me learn to write more briefly.

    Besides, the fridayflash community is really supportive.

  3. I would call it science fiction, too. There’s more too the genre than the space, Star Trek-type stuff. I had that issue with my WIP, too, since it’s got genetic modification in it, but not too much advanced tech otherwise. So yeah. Science fiction all the way!

  4. I’m going to go on a different angle and say it isn’t science fiction. It’s speculative fiction. Unless you’re studying diseases and the story is about the disease, it’s not really science fiction, it’s closer to urban fantasy but even that doesn’t really fit. What you’re writing is a dystopian future, not a post apocalyptic future. It sounds like the world continues just fine with the only difference being we have a much shorter life span. I would think though that if you’re setting it 100 years into the future you’d want to look at some theoretical sciencey stuff like the technological singularity.

    In general I consider science fiction to be anything where the science is tightly woven into the threads of the story. Think of the term spec fic as being what magical realism is to fantasy. The science(or magic) aren’t the focus but rather just a part of the story to help the reader understand another aspect of their lives.

    Diseases can be the basis for Sci Fi novels too, if you’re studying the sciences behind them. I’m very interested in the book The Wind-Up Girl because the author states he came up with the concept while he was in Asia right when SARS broke out. There have also been amazing books about diseases. There’s a great short story by Neil Gaiman where he creates an illness whose only symptom is creating fake illnesses.

    I’m writing a spec fic story (you can check out my link if you want) about an alien girl growing up on Earth in modern times. There is bound to be some made up science- like space travel – but it’s mostly about speculating what it would be like to grow up in our world and know that we don’t belong. It’s really about the struggle that gay youth have been going through in regards to sexual harassment that drives them to suicide or self harm. Like my Zoe, you are not alone! Spec fic is a fantastic genre with millions of amazing writers. Maybe some of your faves, too.

    • Aha! I considered Speculative Fiction as well. You’re right when you say that the science isn’t tightly woven into the story–instead it provides a background and general guideline for the story. The REAL story is about the bond Iris and Kaleb develop as they traipse through the world more than it’s about the world itself.

      I must have misled you, though, about the world. You said that it’s the same except people have shorter life-spans. That’s not true at all. EVERYONE over the age of twenty died, and when they did they took most of the world with them. That’s why I was leaning toward post-apoc. There’s no more travel–no more science–no more anything, really, except for some of the most rudimentary forms of survival: shelter and hunting and growing food. That’s why it’s so novel that a traveler should come through town.

      Also! Am I correct in thinking that speculative fiction is, in fact, a sub-genre of science fiction? Similar to the way post-apocalyptic is, no?

      Thanks for commenting, by the way. You’ve brought up some very interesting and useful points.

  5. Spec Fic is more of a generic term for anything that is kind of sci fi or kind of fantasy. It’s not really a subgenre. Think of it as a bridge between these genres and literary fiction.

    If everybody dies who is over 20, then in 100 years you’d have gone through 5 generations. The buildings, the cars, the everything would still be there and they’d figure out how to use them. They’d rebuild society to a certain extent, that’s why I say it isn’t post apoc. Post apoc is like Mad Max or Waterworld. Everything is wiped out by atomic weapons or aliens or global warming what ever. Something destroyed EVERYTHING. A disease would wipe out the people but not the world. Just food for thought.

    • I appreciate that delicious food for thought, and I admittedly may be evoking a bit too much creative license here, but here’s how it looks:

      Everybody over age twenty died. When they did–as per the conditions of the disease that killed them–half of them went to sleep and never woke up, and the other half went crazy and died. The crazy half lit things on fire, blew things up, killed other people, etc.

      Now, let’s say there’s a young mother–age 26 or so. She gets the disease, and either kills her infant child, or goes to sleep and the infant child dies anyway.

      Mostly, we’re gonna say that very few infants that were already alive at the time of the outbreak survive. How about the people who were eighteen or nineteen or on the cusp of twenty? Did they have a chance to adjust to the world? A chance to adjust to millions of people going to sleep and dying or trying to kill them?

      I’m going to say that the eighteen year olds and nineteen year olds who were alive during the outbreak didn’t have a chance to have children of their own before they turned twenty and died of the disease.

      This leaves the world in the hands of a VERY small group of people, all of whom are VERY young. Will the first generation or two try to scavenge and take advantage of the things that were left behind in the world? Most definitely! But will that last? Methinks it won’t. The towns that weren’t already revolving around agriculture–big cities, in other words–didn’t stand a chance. They would be the first type of survivors to die off.

      The people that survived and knew how to grow crops and hunt already (and how many of THOSE would there be?) were the ones that became the founders of the towns that were destined to survive for a long while.

      By the time Iris’s story rolls around, her whole town–which was indeed founded by young persons who knew how to grow crops and hunt–has no idea that there was ever anything different from what they have now. Sure, the relics of the lost time are everywhere–things they don’t understand like the shells of cars and paved roads and large buildings–but those things don’t matter to them as much as SURVIVING matters.

      [[SIDE NOTE: This conversation is so awesome. I’ve never had the chance to talk about Iris’s world like this to a third party. =D ]]

  6. That does sound like a post apoc story. That wasn’t how I understood it at first. Sounds really interesting, though. Good luck with your story.

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