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SF Subgenre Guides
Microbiological Science Fiction
What is Microbiological Science Fiction?
Tiny lifeforms! Little itty bitty organisms feature prominently in Microbiological Sci Fi. The tiny organisms might be from Earth or they may be from space or an alien world and they might cause a disease or act as a transforming agent.
To get a bit technical, microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms and includes the sub-disciplines of virology, mycology, parasitology, and bacteriology and is considered a pure science. Thus, Microbiological Science Fiction is a story that includes and draws upon this science.
Other Features of Microbiological Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
High. This sub-genre has the potential to wow your socks off with little itty bitty science! This sub-genre is definitely rooted in the real science of microbiology and though it may take some liberties, as Sci Fi is want to do, the sub-genre stays true to its origins.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
Variable. There are a few ways this characteristic can play out in the Microbiological sub-genre. Social implications can be incredibly high in a story about a deadly virus that decimates the population. Alternatively, if the story plays into the Hard Sci Fi stream, the social implications may take a backseat to the science itself—but has great potential for scientific implications.
- Level of Characterization
Variable. Microbiological Sci Fi is defined by the kind of science it includes, not its characters. Readers will find all sorts of characters in the pages of Microbiological Sci Fi stories—detectives, scientists, tourists, doctors, researchers, soldiers.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Moderate-High. Microbiological stories often have a mystery element—something that has to be figured out or uncovered, so the plots tend to be thrilling and engaging.
- Level of Violence
Variable. This is a science based sub-genre, which can mean little to no violence. Or, it can mean death and destruction to all—after all even the tiniest of things can wreak havoc.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Hard Science Fiction. For obvious reasons, many Microbiological stories are also Hard Sci Fi.
Cross Genre. The threat of microorganisms is a fabulous and not uncommonly used basis for books in the thriller genre—sci fi thriller is a natural crossover.
Microbiological Science Fiction isn't for you if...
If you are a germaphobe—seriously, don't read this sub-genre.
- 1 The Andromeda Strain
By Michael Crichton. A sci-fi thriller that takes place in a small town in Arizona where a top-secret satellite has crashed. The satellite is carrying a deadly microbe from space.
- 2 Cold Plague
By Daniel Kalla. Antarctic prions threaten the world!
- 3 Isolation Ward
By Joshua Spangole. A bit of a noir feel to this novel written by a medical student. In group home for the mentally impaired a deadly virus has infected young women.
- 4 The Lazarus Strain
By Ken McClure. A physician and ex-special forces soldier is the protagonist in this sixth book in the Dr. Steven Dunbar series. It appears that someone is trying to unleash the 1918 influenza virus.
- 5 The Judas Strain
By James Rollins. Rollins starts with a science fact and builds out his fictitious story about a gruesome plague.
- 6 Vitals
By Greg Bear. Twin brothers are microbiologists researching immortality and the search brings one of them to ocean floor.
- 7 Brain Plague
By Joan Slonczewski The setting of this novel (book four in the Elysium cycle) is a world where intelligent microbes live in the brains of humans. The microbial aliens evolve in the same way as pathogens and have the potential for good and evil.
- 8 Galapagos
By Kurt Vonnegut. This is the story of a band of people shipwrecked on an island in the Galapagos after a crippling global financial crisis and a bacterium that spreads and makes women infertile—except on the shipwrecked island. The book covers the evolution of humanity over the next million years.
- 9 The War of the Worlds
By H.G. Wells. This is an invasion story, but the end of the invasion isn't because of militaristic efforts.
- 10 The Cobra Event
By Richard Preston. Written by a non-fiction writer who did extensive real world research, this fictional account of biological terrorism is frightening and thrilling.