Scientific, sword and sorcery, galactic? What is sci fi?

On Writing Rebels of Theta

By Vickie Adair

            One day I got this bright idea to write a science fiction story, but that genre is very broad and not easily defined by most, even writers in the genre sometimes. So, I decided to do a little research on the genre itself before starting. In his pocket Guide to Literature and Language Terms, Benjamin W. Griffith defines science fiction as “A form of fantasy in fiction in which scientific theories, hypotheses, and logic are used to create settings on other planets and galaxies and to depict the future of Earth.”

 According to Griffith, three categories of science fiction have been clearly defined: Hard Science Fiction where technology based on current scientific theories is the focal point, Sword and Sorcery where scientific theory is replaced with magic, and Galactic Fantasy where the science and technology are ultimately less important than the human story within that setting. Since I simply tell stories about people, Rebels of Theta is clearly in the Galactic category and deals with the potential evolution of humans.

While Rebels of Theta uses scientific theories of space travel and inter-planetary communication, the technology is incidental to the human story. Rather than spending time explaining the theories utilized, I used terms from science fiction’s “language of commonly accepted ideas” such as “the jump” to identify the theory of space travel in the novel, so that the focus could remain on characterization and plot.

Even though Griffith identifies Galactic Fantasy as “the most recent category of science fiction,” I suggest that what is now called Galactic Fantasy is, in fact, the original science fiction category. The modern books written in this style are very reminiscent of the works of Jules Verne, the undisputed father of science fiction. Not that I’m comparing myself to Jules Verne, but I do like to tell stories of action and fast plot with people as the focal point in a setting from my imagination.


Vickie Adair currently lives in San Marcos, Texas with the smartest dog on the planet. She was a technical and business writer and university writing instructor for decades until she “retired” at sixty to start publishing all those manuscripts of fiction and poetry that she had been writing and hiding in a drawer. Her first published book was an illustrated children’s book, Once Upon A Tooth…a Fairy’s Tale, and her second was a book of poetry, Sonnet of a Housewife, and other poems. Her first novel of her sci-fi trilogy, Rebels of Theta, is being released on Oct. 31, 2011.

Vickie Adair

Click over to Vickie’s page for a book give-away!

You can find Vickie on Facebook and Twitter, too.



Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

10 responses to “Scientific, sword and sorcery, galactic? What is sci fi?

  1. I would agree with your assessment of Galactic Fantasy being the first kid on the block. H. G. Wells didn’t spend any time explaining how the Martians got to Earth; E. R. Burroughs didn’t waste time getting his character to Mars — or even really attempt to explain how it was even possible. Yet these early classics of SF worked just fine and inspired many generations to carve out their own niches within the SF universe.

    • Good point, Duncan! Just like the horror writers don’t need to explain a car than can regenerate itself or a mortal who can re-animate dead people. Possibility is in our imagination!

  2. niamhclune

    A great and interesting Blog from our writing intelligentsia!

  3. I know nothing about writing Sci-Fi, but found Vicki’s article very enlightening! I think I like the Galatic fantasy. Mentioning the technology, but really focusing on human nature. I think of the movie Avatar– one of my favorites. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great explanation, Vickie! Looking forward to your dog’s first book to – Once Upon a Canine Tooth – a Dog’s Tale!

  5. I am a huge fan of Rebels of Theta. Fantastic story. Tell us, how long before we see the next in the series?

  6. Pingback: » Monday’s Writing Links Conor P. Dempsey

  7. I’d have to say, first, great post, and also, a few ideas I have running around the lighthouse would fall under the Galactic cat as well.

    Time travel and bots. ;D

    Onward, Vickie!

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