Prominent Themes in Speculative Fiction

This list of themes is by no means complete, but it is fairly comprehensive. Some of the themes listed below overlap genres. However, I did my best to put each theme with the genre it is most often associated.

I will be adding to this list, as well as including definitions and examples, sometime in the future.

Science Fiction

Definition: The genre of speculative fiction that is based on scientific truth and/or theory.

  • Alien Invasions
  • Alien Machines/Artifacts
  • Alternate History
  • Alternate Reality
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Artificial Life
  • Artificial/Virtual Reality
  • Biopunk
  • Clones/Cloning
  • Cyberpunk/Cyberspace
  • Dieselpunk
  • Dinosaurs/Extinct Species
  • Distant Worlds
  • Drugs/Addiction/Psychoactive Substances
  • Ecological/Population Disasters
  • End of the World/Man
  • Far Futures
  • First Contact
  • Galactic Empires, Leagues & Federations
  • Gaming
  • Genetic/Bio Engineering
  • Generation Ships
  • Gothic Science Fiction
  • Hive/Collective Minds/Species
  • Immortality/Longevity
  • Invisibility
  • Lost Civilizations/Worlds
  • LGBTQIA
  • Medicine/Health Care
  • Megacorporations
  • Military/Warfare
  • Mutants/Mutations
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nuclear Disaster
  • Parallel/Alternate Worlds/Universes
  • Plague
  • Post-Apocalypse/Post-Holocaust/Dying Earth
  • Prehistory/Prehistoric Cultures
  • Robots, Androids, etc.
  • Slipstream
  • Space Colonies/Colonization
  • Spy-fi
  • Steampunk
  • Super Humans
  • Telepathy/Mind Reading/Mind Control/ESP/Psionics
  • Teleportation
  • Terraforming/World Building
  • Theology/Religion/Spirituality
  • Time Travel
  • Underwater Living
  • Utopias/Distopias
  • Virtual Reality

Eras & Generalized Types of Science Fiction

  • Adventure
  • Erotic
  • Feminist
  • Golden Age
  • Hard Science Fiction
  • Humorous/Comic
  • Libertarian
  • Near Future
  • New Wave
  • Pulp
  • Religious
  • Science Fantasy
  • Scientific Romance
  • Soft Science Fiction
  • Space Opera
  • Space Western

Fantasy

Definition: The genre of speculative fiction that is fantastical in nature, often populated by things that cannot be scientifically explained.

  • Angels
  • Arthurian Legends/Medieval Culture
  • Barbarians
  • Dragons
  • Dwarfs
  • Elves
  • Fairy Tales
  • Immortals
  • Magic
  • Magic Realism
  • Military/Warfare/Revolution
  • Sorcery/Witchcraft
  • Sword & Sorcery
  • Talking Animals
  • Unicorns

Generalized Types of Fantasy

  • Dark
  • Erotic
  • Gothic
  • High
  • Historical
  • Mythic
  • Heroic
  • Humorous/Comic
  • Urban

Horror

Definition: The genre of speculative fiction that inspires feelings of dread, fear or dismay, especially in anticipation of something frightening about to be experienced.

  • Creepy Kids
  • Demons
  • Erotic Horror
  • Ghosts/Hauntings
  • Gothic Horror
  • Insanity/Loss of Self
  • Lovecraftian
  • Monsters
  • Possession — Spirit/Alien/Demon
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Paranomal Mystery
  • Satanic Bargains
  • Serial Killers/Slasher
  • Shapeshifters
  • Supernatural Creatures
  • Vampires/Vampirism
  • Werewolves/Lycanthropy
  • Zombies/Voodoo

Generalized Types of Horror

  • Humorous Horror
  • Noir
  • Psychological

Last Updated: March 14, 2018