One-line summaries of SF sub-genres
This delightful little game was invented by Ahasuerus in the usenet newsgroup, rec.arts.sf.written. The idea is to summarize SF sub-genres in one line, preferably with a bit of irony. I decided to gather the various suggestions into a web page.
What the Subject line says. As an example, net.porn would look something like “Until that night I had never thought of my pet piranha in sexual terms.” Anybody wanna play? 🙂
Space opera: “The galaxy was about to blow up and a young waitress decided to do something about it.”
Star Trek: “Everything looks like it will change, but we’ll just hit the reset button at the end so it doesn’t matter.”
Lost in Time: Oh my lord, I’ve mysteriously ended up in the ancient world, but thank goodness I’m a genius, happen to speak the local language and am an encyclopedia of technological information.
Mil-SF: Them bugs ain’t gonna take over this here galaxy if me and my buddies and that there 6 gigatonnes of advanced weaponry have anything to say about it.
Cyberpunk: It dont mean a thing if it aint got that ping.
Time Travel: I never should have killed my great, great, great grandfa….
Alternate History: Ya knew, ef we ad lost in 1066, I cood bi speckin annudder dialec.
Post-Apocalypse: “Most of my friends are dead – not to mention civilization – but at least I have this really great car.”
Techno-thriller: “You’re troubled, I’m troubled, politics is murky, I’m catnip to the ladies, thank God and Apple Pie we have these Super Advanced Plot Devices.”
Superfuture (Niven/Sheffield/Vinge): “We wouldn’t have survived the last 5 billion years if it weren’t for our clever use of Stuff That Never Breaks. (tm)”
Post-Apocalypse: “The world is barren wasteland, where your life is worth less than a petrol can, and my car does 10 miles to the gallon.”
Galactic Empire: Emperor Claudius^H^H^H^H^H^H^HMaxtor the Great, the province of Hispania^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRigel III is revolting.
The Sequel: “Send Admiral B’lrusas to subdue to barbarians in the fourth quadrant, he is far too good a boy scout to rebel if victorious, and if not his wife is really hot”
First Contact: “I’m sure we’ll discover that these totally incomprehensible identical blob-like aliens are just like us deep-down.”
Psionic Outcast Teenagers: “At last we can love each other while we use mind control to Take Over The World!”
Doomsday Thriller: “I’m sure we can stop a world determined on its own total self-destruction.”
Romance Futuristic: “So I got kidnapped by a UFO, but the captain was so wonderful I couldn’t help falling in love with him/her” (works for either gender, though the combo is usually het).
Exploration: “We’re pretty safe in these environmental suits we’ve field tested on over a thousand pla–oh shit!” (yes, I know this phrase has been used. I like it anyway).
Sociological: “These aliens are completely incomprehensible to everyone but the reader (from p.1) and the incredibly- smart-but-no-good-at-playing-politics heroine (from about p. end/2).”
Modern Space Opera: Lots of stuff blows up…for a Moral Purpose!
Contemporary Urban Fantasy: “I am an artist of some incredibly cool form that my author loves and/or I am a street person. Unpleasant magical things happen to me because the world is cruel and run by Republicans, but I will be saved by my Friends.”
Near Future Planetary Exploration: “Two Americans, two Russians, a Japanese and an Indian can get to Mars, if they follow this equasion…”
Psychohistory: “Our flawless calculations show that 93 years and fifteen seconds from now, our beloved society will die because a lefthanded waitress spills a cup of coffee — unless we take certain preventive measures!”
Revisionist Psychohistory: “Thankfully, the androids will be working behind the scenes to make sure it all works out without us knowing about it!”
Psychohistory (modern version): “Somewhere in the Brazillian rain forest a small butterfly will flap its wings which will eventually, through a chain of chaotic events, cause a huge storm over the Atlantic, obliterating most of western Europe and the east coast of the US. Let’s go kill that troublesome bug!”
Source of Psychohistory: (paraphrase from memory) Our Visualization of the Cosmic All indicates a barber will nick your ear while shaving you when a young female cat named Thomas jumps to your lap and jostles his arm after you’ve brought great empires to their knees in the meantime….
Cyberpunk: “The world was sick enough even without a terabyte of stolen information burning in my brain and that Japanese guy in a trenchcoat being out to get me in the foggy night.”
Cyberpunk: I’m a shit hot babe, bike mesenger, martial artist, ready to kick ass and save the guy that knows the REALLY BIG SECRET.
“I’ve got this tiny little special talent, that I discover can be applied to many, many things; and over the course of seven books (or even just one book), it’ll grow in power till it becomes obvious that I am GOD.” — just about any Orson Scott Card novel.
“Hey, we just found this object in space, and it’s big! No, I mean BIG, really REALLY BIG. Let’s go wander around on it a while.”
Stewart Robert Hinsley
Lost in Space: Oh my lord, I’ve _unfortunately been forced to land on a primitive_ world, but thank goodness I’m a genius, happen to _a univeral translator_ and am an encyclopedia of technological information
Eimear Ni Mhealoid
Space Horse Opera; Protagonist (usu. female) is stranded on planet long separated from mainstream of galactic civilisation, and falls in love with low-tech lifestyle, and also with hunky local after love/hate hijinks; often with added Psionics for extra crunch.
Fantasy: I will retrieve the magic stone of Krondar — just me, my pet who talks like a six-year-old, and my psi powers. Oh, and that mysterious handsome man I caught a glimpse of.
Mecha (Superheroic): I’m a teenager who pilots a giant robot that is far beyond any other tech on Earth and fight the Evil Overlord’s giant monsters every week.
Mecha (Military): I’m a teenager who pilots a giant robot which is not far beyond other tech, fights other giant robots in a morally-ambiguous war, and angsts about it.
This page was last updated May 3, 2001.