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Gothic Science Fiction
What is Gothic Science Fiction?
Gothic Science Fiction is a macabre sub-genre that crosses Sci Fi and Gothic literatures. Gothic Sci Fi tends to have the same atmospheric qualities of Gothic literature, but does not delve into the depths of horror. The sub-genre takes typical elements of Gothic literature and explains them scientifically. Some examples of common characteristics of Gothic fiction: mystery, the supernatural, haunted houses, castles, darkness, death and decay, romance madness, monsters. The common example of this cross over is vampires explained by disease or as aliens. Gothic Sci Fi is a rich sub-genre where seeming disparate categories--irrational and supernatural for Gothic fiction and the rational foundation of Science Fiction--weave together a revealing story where the universe can still surprise us.
You can view the crowd-ranked Gothic Science Fiction Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Other Features of Gothic Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
Moderate. Some aspects of Gothic Sci Fi are magical. However, when technology is introduced in the story, it is believable technology. Indeed, many authors go to great lengths to explain inventions scientifically.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
High. This sub-genre seeks understanding and order and explores grand ideas relating to the supernatural. For example, a Gothic Sci Fi story may explore the dangers of humans trespassing on territory that belongs to a supernatural being.
- Level of Characterization
Moderate. Gothic fiction has several archetypes that Gothic Sci Fi picks adopts: virginal maiden, isolated hero, evil villain, and even the setting. Setting is very important in Gothic Sci Fi because it is highly descriptive, it has an effect on plot and even has interactions. In this way, setting can be seen as a character.
- Level of Plot Complexity
High. Clear plots are the norm in Gothic Sci Fi, but the plots often follow a typical structure: a hero encounters some mystery and must fight some kind of monster or alien. As the sub-genre has matured, plot structure has moved away from this typical storyline.
- Level of Violence
High. Gothic Sci Fi has an emphasis on danger and what may be lurking in the shadows.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Scientific Romance. The Romantic movement spurred the creation of Gothic literature and so Gothic Sci Fi and Scientific Romance share several characteristics like using scientific speculations as a basis for story.
Science Fantasy. The Gothic tradition uses many characteristics typical of Fantasy--magic, the supernatural, castles--so there is some degree of overlap between the two sub-genres, but Gothic Sci Fi tends to be darker.
Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is filled with dark stories embodying the sense of decay and often fear. Cyberpunk worlds have a similar atmosphere as Gothic Sci Fil, dark, ominous, and melancholic.
Literary. Gothic often evokes literary conventions and in some cases might strive to be a literary work completely, wrapped in the trappings of science fiction.
SciFi Horror. This subgenre might include Gothic elements (horror, creepiness, atmosphere, etc).
Gothic Science Fiction isn't for you if
If you prefer your Sci Fi to be about a completely rational and nameable universe. If you find the coalescing of the supernatural and the rational more absurd than engaging.
- 1 Frankenstein
By Mary Shelley. Arguably the first Sci Fi novel and one that is also very much part of the Gothic tradition.
- 2 Rogue Moon
By Algis Budry. A novel that makes the reader confront death.
- 3 I Am Legend
By Richard Matheson . One of the first to make vampirism or zombies have a scientific origin with plenty of medical inquiry and rational causation provided.
- 4 The Coldfire Trilogy
By C.S. Friedman. A mix of science, aliens, and magic taking place on another planet.
- 5 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
By Robert Louis Stevenson. A dark story that touches on morality, psychology, and scientific physical transformation.
- 6 Cthulhu Mythos
By H.P. Lovecraft. These stories embody the horror aspect of the Gothic tradition while embracing Sci Fi elements like other dimensions and aliens.
- 7 Lytton The Coming Race
By Edward Bulwer A utopia, an underground lost world with a society that revolves around an electromagnetic power source that fuels flying machines and telepathy.
- 8 The Tommyknockers
By Stephen King. A Gothic horror story with a Sci Fi bend: mystery, alien space craft, and technology that comes alive.
- 9 The Wolfen
By Whitley Strieber. A plausible and scientific explanation for creatures similar to werewolves set in decaying city.
- 10 The Great Book of Amber
By Robert Zelazny. A 10 book chronicle--these stories combine other worlds, magical elements, mystery, shadow, and science.
- Rogue Moon (Silver James)