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SF Subgenre Guides
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Astrosociobiology Science Fiction
What is Astrosociobiology Science Fiction?
Alien life! Astrosociobiology is all about alien life—not always intelligent or advanced technologically, but life out there among the stars! Arthur C. Clarke's short story, “A Meeting with Medusa” is the quintessential example of the sub-genre—it's about an expedition to Jupiter where a scientist observes several natural phenomenons, including two creatures with a predator/prey relationship.
Astrosociobiology as a scientific field doesn't actually exist yet, but there already exist theories and scientific speculations. As a field it covers astrobiology, sociobiology, and evolutionary biology. The primary focus is on extraterrestrial life, with a specialization on civilization—social characteristics, etc. The subject is entirely hypothetical and seems to be a perfect jumping off point for a good Sci Fi story.
Other Features of Astrosociobiology Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
High. While the subject of the scientific inquiry is speculative, the science used to learn about the subject is real—or at least very plausible.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
High. When a story revolves around the study of an alien life there will inevitably be a social discussion. Understanding an alien life will have a social impact on Earth as well as humanity, but we can only speculate on the details of the impact—and Sci Fi does this really really well.
- Level of Characterization
Variable. In a story that focuses on alien life, the development of human characters is not always prioritized.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Moderate. There are strong plot elements leading up to the discovery of alien life—adventure and discovery make for engrossing plots. However, once the story gets into the details of the alien life plot can sometimes seem unimportant.
- Level of Violence
Variable. Meeting alien life is not always militaristic, but sometimes the military will be involved. Sometimes it's a case of scientific inquiry and sometimes threats are imminent.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Speculative Fiction. All Astrosociobiology fiction is necessarily speculative.
First Contact Science Fiction. When you meet an alien race for the first time there will be a bit of astrosociobiology involved.
Science Fiction. These stories are looking at alien civilizations and the social sciences are helpful in understanding civilizations.
Hard Science Fiction. Exploration and scientific inquiry are big components of Hard Sci Fi and are important story elements of Astrosociobiology.
Astrosociobiology Science Fiction isn't for you if..
If you want a story all about humans.
- 1 Death World trilogy
By Harry Harrison. Survival depends on understanding alien life on other planets.
- 2 Chanu
By C.J. Cherryh. The novels of this series explore the psychology of an alien race decidedly feline in nature
- 3 The Andromeda Strain
By Michael Crichton. Alien life comes to Earth in microbial form attached to a satellite that crashes in Piedmont, Arizona leaving everyone in town dead.
- 4 Evolving the Alien
By Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. This is a non-fiction book about the investigation of extraterrestrial life. Just one example of several non-fiction books that explore astrosociobiology and similar topics.
- 5 The Mote in God's Eye
- 6 Speaker for the Dead
By Orson Scott Card. In this second book of the Ender Quintet another alien race has been discovered and Ender finds the truth.
- 7 Enemy Mine
- 8 The Chanur Saga
By C.J. Cherryh. An interstellar adventure told from an alien perspective—aliens who encounter the strange race of humans.
- 9 Quozl
By Alan Dean Foster. A bit of comedy, a bit of science fiction, a bit of astrosociobiology make this a fun book.
- 10 Adulthood Rights
By Octavia Butler. A part of he Xenogensis series, this book is about a race of tentacled aliens with telepathic abilities and reproduce by merging with other species.