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SF Subgenre Guides
What is Scientific Romance?
Scientific Romance sounds like love birds in space—but that couldn't be further from the truth. It is a term applied to primarily British fiction and non-fiction works that use scientific speculations as a basis for story. Scientific Romance is a term applied to early versions of Science Fiction from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. That is not to say that this type of Science Fiction has been doomed to the pages of history, in fact in recent years the sub-genre has seen a revival by writers paying a sort of homage to the original Scientific Romances by mimicking their style.
There are two distinct faces of Scientific Romance: a lighter and more optimistic side that sees technology as wonderful and adventurous; and a darker side that is more cautionary and filled with social critique.
Scientific Romance also has a secondary meaning—a science based flight of fancy.
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Scientific Romance Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Other Features of Scientific Romance
- Level of Real Science
High. Scientific Romances have a focus on technology and science and this focus allows writers to speculate about where this technology and science might take us in the future.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
>High. Science Romances are idea centric: imperialism, technology, evolution are staples of this sub-genre.
- Level of Characterization
Moderately low. Protagonists in Scientific Romances are not the typical Sci Fi hero—they are sometimes broody and often wrapped up in ideas. The richness of Scientific Romances comes from the the ideas and exploration of technology, not from the characters.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Variable. Depending on the type of Scientific Romance—the light or the dark—plot can be a key feature in stories that are more journey-like, or not at all important in stories that are more broody.
- Level of Violence
Low. Violence is not typical in Scientific Romances—they are stories more concerned with science, exploring ideas, and rational thought.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Dying Earth. Several of the Scientific Romances explore scientific ideas through to the very end of the world, often providing commentary on how science or humanity has caused this end.
a href="speculative-fiction.php">Speculative Fiction is strongly related to Scientific Romance because these stories are speculations on the future of science, technology, and humanity.
Voyages Extraordinaries. A number of Voyages Extraordinaire books are considered Scientific Romances such as The Lost World, War of the Worlds, and Journey to The Center of the Earth. Both subgenres feature adventures and an almost romantic look at science and technology, often employing new technology to make a great voyage into the unknown.
In addition, in its earliest form, Scientific Romance pre-dates most other forms of Sci Fi all sub-genres are related in one way or another.
Scientific Romance isn't for you if...
If you prefer modern styles of writing.
- 1 Journey to the Centre of the Earth
By Jules Verne. Verne is a father of Science Fiction and his stories are prime examples of the light side of Scientific Romance—where technology and the natural world are adventures.
- 2 War of the Worlds
By H.G. Wells. Wells is a prime example of the darker side of Scientific Romance. In his stories technology is cautioned against—indeed this novel undercuts the supremacy of technology.
- 3 The Lost World
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This novel is an example of how Scientific Romance can be more concerned with the exploration of the natural world than with technology.
- 4 Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
By Robert Chambers. Likely the first use of the term Scientific Romance was used to describe this story of speculative history.
- 5 Scientific Romances
By Charles Howard Hinton. A series of scientific and philosophical essays that could be considered the origin of the Scientific Romance definition as a genre.
- 6 Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future
By Olaf Stapledon. Stapledon's first novel and the first Scientific Romance to focus on a long and evolutionary perspective.
- 7 The Purple Cloud
By M.P. Shiel A so called last-man novel. A single man has survived and most of the novel are his meditations on humanity and the universe.
- 8 The Night Land
By William Hope Hodgson. This novel takes us to a future where the sun has burned out.
- 9 The Space Machine
By Christopher Priest. Two people are dropped onto the Martian surface in a time before Wells' War of the Worlds. Of note, this is one of the first influencers of Steampunk.
- 10 Against the Fall of Night
By Arthur C. Clarke. A poignant and sad story about the fading human race.
- Tomorrow's Yesterday ()