By Steve Davidson: Everybody is getting hung up on SF definitions, usually ending up by arguing over sub-genres. The problem is not with Science Fiction, the problem is to be found in the definitions themselves. They are inaccurate, do not define boundaries accurately and are misleading.
In order to rectify the situation, a selection of definitions for popular sub genres of science fiction are herein offered:
Hard Science Fiction: A science fiction work that is impossible for anyone not possessing genius level cognitive abilities to understand (and even then…). Alternatively, a science fiction work that no reviewer has managed to read past the first chapter, (often confused with “Bad Science Fiction”).
Space Opera: Published as a libretto, and always in Italian. Very few true extant examples of Space Opera can be found, as few authors manage to find suitable arrangements for their arias.
Mundane Science Fiction: Only found in newspapers under “Headlines”. Based on the concept that fiction should reflect reality, its purpose is often explained as “real life sucks, your fiction should too”.
Alternate History: Taught in charter schools supported by DeVos’s Dept. of Education; follows the civics section on “Alternate Facts”. (It’s a nice segue…alternate facts lead to alternate history…)
Military Science Fiction: Any science fiction work shipped to a war zone in support of our troops. (Works may or may not retain this status when removed from a war zone.)
Steampunk: Science Fiction for people who may understand plumbing, but not electricity.
Dieselpunk: Science Fiction for people who may understand electricity, but not electronics.
Cyberpunk: Science Fiction for people who DON’T want to understand electronics.
Superhuman Science Fiction: Previously referred to as “comic books”; now a major motion picture.
Space Western: Science Fiction that is based entirely and solely on white, anglo-saxon, western-European cultural precepts. Hitler’s The Iron Dream is frequently held up as an exemplar.
Apocalyptic Science Fiction: Science Fiction based in the here and now. Unlike Mundane Science Fiction, ASF is less discriminatory in its reliance on believable scientific extrapolation; for example, a whole sub-branch of this sub-genre is devoted to alternate realities in which Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States.
Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction: Science Fiction that takes place in a very near-future time frame. Specifically, beginning at 1 second following the end of Trump’s term in office and extending until the heat death of the universe.
Libertarian Science Fiction: formerly a branch of Apocalyptic SF, Libertarian Science Fiction – frequently referred to as “I can too play with myself in public, I have rights, ya know!?” – has now been relegated to that branch of literature known as “Fantasy”.
Feminist Science Fiction: A movement of late has attempted to remove “Feminist” from the label. In point of fact, most author’s desire the label, deserving or not, as it almost guarantees that white people will be featured on the cover art. Most lexicographers consider it to be synonymous with “Science Fiction”.
Science Fiction Romance: Two alternate definitions prevail here: 1: Bodice Ripper In Spaaaaaaaace! (This rarely results in successful fiction as the object of desire almost always dies within a few seconds of their spacesuit’s bodice being ripped.) 2. See previous definition for Feminist Science Fiction
Easy to remember blanket definition: It’s fantasy, with science. Maybe.