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What is SciFi Horror?
Science Fiction and Horror overlap to create a scary story where the source of fear is another planet, alien race, interstellar travel, or something else from the Sci Fi genre. Sci Fi and Horror are natural companions. Often, fiction depicts a sense of anxiety about science and technology: medical research may unleash new diseases, robots may revolt, engineers can build death rays and atomic bombs. Or the topic may be some exploration of man's primal fears: the claustrophobia of enclosed space, the fears of finding out you are not alone in the universe, the discovery of something "alien", etc.
These anxieties are the intersection where Sc Fi and Horror create their stories. Sci-Fi Horror is a cross section of sub-genres, which makes for a wide range of stories. In addition, the sub-genre is less about the content and more about the effect on the reader.
This is a sub-genre that has seen great success on the screen—think about the Alien franchise of movies, you certainly wouldn't walk down the hallway of a spaceship in the Alien universe alone, would you?
One sub-genre of what might be Horror would be the Space Horror element -- where something horrible happens in space -- aboard a ship or space station from which humans have no means to escape from as they are trapped.
Recently, there has been a trend in video games to produce science fiction horror. Some noteable examples include the Deadspace games
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Sci-Fi Horror Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Other Features of Sci-Fi Horror
- Level of Real Science
Variable. A writer in the Sci Fi/Horror sub-genre can lean more heavily on the Sci Fi side, grounded in a believable scientific reality, or more to the horror side, containing more supernatural elements. As such, the level of science can vary greatly.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
Variable. When the aim of a sub-genre is the evocation of fear grand ideas and social implications can fall by the wayside. On the other hand, a well-written story will make a reader feel and then think about that fear so that the emotional catharsis readers may feel itself becomes social commentary. For example, a common storyline in the Sci Fi/Horror sub-genre is that of facing the other (e.g. aliens, Communists, women, etc.) this story can have very little social implication and just reinforce the values of superiority or it can open up a wider discussion on why we fear the other.
- Level of Characterization
Variable. Stock characters are sometimes used in Sci Fi/Horror stories, merely vehicles that allow the reader to feel fear. The cross-genre nature of this sub-genre may also give rise to characters who are well developed and have realistic motivations and internal lives.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Variable. Sci Fi/Horror plots tend to be well-woven sequences of cause and effect to maximize the reader's sense of horror. However, plot can also take a back seat to world-building or characterization so that setting and/or characters evoke the sense of horror instead.
- Level of Violence
High. It's called horror for a reason. Granted, some horror stories can be horrors of the mind and therefore not include much physical violence, nonetheless there is still something severe in the story that possess qualities of violence.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Gothic Sci Fi. The Horror genre has its roots in Gothic literature: mystery, sense of fear, monsters, heroic deeds. Indeed, both Sci Fi and Horror have their start in the Gothic.
Zombie Books. Sometimes zombie fiction can scare.
Sci-Fi Horror isn't for you if...
If you prefer your genres separate and clearly defined. If you don't like being scared by a good story.
- 1 Infected
By Scott Sigler. A horror story that's heavy on the science. A new, violent disease is running rampant and it is crafted by something beyond the science we know.
- 2 The Drive-in 2
By Joe R. Lansdale. Not Just One of them Sequels. A novel that draws from many genres horror, sci fi, fantasy, the B-movie to craft a story of the stuff of nightmares.
- 3 The Hunger
By Charles Beaumont. The Hunger, and Other Stories. Beaumont was a contributing writer to The Twilight Zone. This collection of short stories indulges in creepy, psychological horror, and madness.
- 4 The Sandman
By ETA Hoffman. Predating even Frankenstein, this story is a very early Sci Fi/Horror combination that features a sinister Dr. Coppelius and a beautiful early-robot that he builds.
- 5 The Horror of the Heights
By Arthur Conan Doyle. A story published in Strand about strange forms of life in the upper atmosphere.
- 6 The House on the Borderland
By William Hope Hodgson. A classic tale about a man whose house occupies two different worlds and witnesses the end of the Solar System.
- 7 I Am Legend
By Richard Matheson An example of how Sci Fi and Horror come together through the supernatural—a scientific explanation is given to explain the existence of seemingly supernatural beings.
- 8 The Empire of Fear
By Brian M. Stableford. An alternate history story where vampires exist and are scientifically explained. This story has the sweeping narrative of Scientific Romance.
- 9 The Body Snatchers
By Jack Finney. Insidious and horrific, this story can make anyone feel helpless and paranoid as aliens descend unto a sleepy town.
- 10 Dreamcatcher
By Stephen King. Or most anything by Stephen King. Four childhood friends are plunged into a struggle with a creature from another world, but they all have a shared past.