Inspiration from Horror and Science Fiction Genres

This list comes from Writers Digest.

I’m still looking for more science fiction subgenres so this list isn’t enough for me. But, it is a good place to start. Also great as inspiration when you get stuck for ideas or have ideas and can’t pin them down.

Horror

  • Child in Peril: involving the abduction and/or persecution of a child.
  • Comic Horror: horror stories that either spoof horror conventions or that mix the gore with dark humor.
  • Creepy Kids: horror tale in which children – often under the influence of dark forces – begin to turn against the adults.
  • Dark Fantasy: a horror story with supernatural and fantasy elements.
  • Dark Mystery/Noir: inspired by hardboiled detective tales, set in an urban underworld of crime and moral ambiguity.
  • Erotic Vampire: a horror tale making the newly trendy link between sexuality and vampires, but with more emphasis on graphic description and violence.
  • Fabulist: derived from “fable,” an ancient tradition in which objects, animals or forces of nature are anthropomorphized in order to deliver a moral lesson.
  • Gothic: a traditional form depicting the encroachment of the Middle Ages upon the 18th century Enlightenment, filled with images of decay and ruin, and episodes of imprisonment and persecution.
  • Hauntings: a classic form centering on possession by ghosts, demons or poltergeists, particularly of some sort of structure.
  • Historical: horror tales set in a specific and recognizable period of history.
  • Magical Realism: a genre inspired by Latin-American authors, in which extraordinary forces or creatures pop into otherwise normal, real-life settings.
  • Psychological: a story based on the disturbed human psyche, often exploring insane, altered realities and featuring a human monster with horrific, but not supernatural, aspects.
  • Quiet Horror: subtly written horror that uses atmosphere and mood, rather than graphic description, to create fear and suspense.
  • Religious: horror that makes use of religious icons and mythology, especially the angels and demons derived from Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost.
  • Science-Fiction Horror: SF with a darker, more violent twist, often revolving around alien invasions, mad scientists, or experiments gone wrong.
  • Splatter: a fairly new, extreme style of horror that cuts right to the gore.
  • Supernatural Menace: a horror tale in which the rules of normal existence don’t apply, often featuring ghosts, demons, vampires and werewolves.
  • Technology: stories featuring technology that has run amok, venturing increasingly into the expanding domain of computers, cyberspace, and genetic engineering.
  • Weird Tales: inspired by the magazine of the same name, a more traditional form featuring strange and uncanny events (Twilight Zone).
  • Young Adult: horror aimed at a teen market, often with heroes the same age, or slightly older than, the reader.
  • Zombie: tales featuring dead people who return to commit mayhem on the living.

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

 

  • Alternate History: speculative fiction that changes the accepted account of actual historical events, often featuring a profound “what if?” premise.
  • Arthurian Fantasy: reworkings of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
  • Bangsian Fantasy: stories speculating on the afterlives of famous people.
  • Biopunk: a blend of film noir, Japanese anime and post-modern elements used to describe an underground, nihilistic biotech society.
  • Children’s Fantasy: a kinder, gentler style of fantasy aimed at very young readers.
  • Comic: fantasy or science fiction that spoofs the conventions of the genre, or the conventions of society.
  • Cyberpunk: stories featuring tough outsiders in a high-tech near-future where computers have produced major changes in society.
  • Dark Fantasy: tales that focus on the nightmarish underbelly of magic, venturing into the violence of horror novels.
  • Dystopian: stories that portray a bleak future world.
  • Erotic: SF or fantasy tales that focus on sexuality.
  • Game-Related Fantasy: tales with plots and characters similar to high fantasy, but based on a specific role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Hard Science Fiction: tales in which real present-day science is logically extrapolated to the future.
  • Heroic Fantasy: stories of war and its heroes, the fantasy equivalent of military science fiction.
  • High/Epic Fantasy: tales with an emphasis on the fate of an entire race or nation, often featuring a young “nobody” hero battling an ultimate evil.
  • Historical: speculative fiction taking place in a recognizable historical period.
  • Mundane SF: a movement that spurns fanciful conceits like warp drives, wormholes and faster-than-light travel for stories based on scientific knowledge as it actually exists.
  • Military SF: war stories that extrapolate existing military technology and tactics into the future.
  • Mystery SF: a cross-genre blend that can be either an SF tale with a central mystery or a classic whodunit with SF elements.
  • Mythic Fiction: stories inspired, or modeled on, classic myths, legends and fairy tales.
  • New Age: a category of speculative fiction that deals with occult subjects such as astrology, psychic phenomena, spiritual healing, UFOs and mysticism.
  • Post-Apocalyptic: stories of life on Earth after an apocalypse, focusing on the struggle to survive.
  • Romance: speculative fiction in which romance plays a key part.
  • Religious: centering on theological ideas, and heroes who are ruled by their religious beliefs.
  • Science Fantasy: a blend in which fantasy is supported by scientific or pseudo-scientific explanations.
  • Social SF: tales that focus on how characters react to their environments – including social satire.
  • Soft SF: tales based on the more subjective, “softer” sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.
  • Space Opera: a traditional good guys/bad guys faceoff with lots of action and larger-than-life characters.
  • Spy-Fi: tales of espionage with SF elements, especially the use of high-tech gadgetry.
  • Steampunk: a specific type of alternate history in which characters in Victorian England have access to 20th century technology.
  • Superheroes: stories featuring characters endowed with superhuman strengths or abilities.
  • Sword and Sorcery: a classic genre often set in the medieval period, and more concerned with immediate physical threats than high or heroic fantasy.
  • Thriller SF: an SF story that takes on the classic world-at-risk, cliffhanger elements of a thriller.
  • Time-Travel: stories based on the concept of moving forward or backward in time, often delving into the existence of parallel worlds.
  • Urban Fantasy: a fantasy tale in which magical powers and characters appear in an otherwise normal modern context, similar to Latin American magical realism.
  • Vampire: variations on the classic vampire legend, recently taking on many sexual and romantic variations.
  • Wuxia: fantasy tales set within the martial arts traditions and philosophies of China.
  • Young Adult: speculative fiction aimed at a teenage audience, often featuring a hero the same age or slightly older than the reader.

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