The Five Billion Names of Genre

An exercise. Not a terribly original one, but still an exercise for the imagination.

Below is a list of fifty literary genres and sub-genres taken from Wikipedia’s list. I have added a few genres of my own, and this list is not exhaustive. Take a look at an item on the list below, and tell me about what a genre title suggests to you in a short paragraph.

The only constraint is that you cannot deliberately reference existing works of fiction. I want to hear about possible mes-en-scene, themes and tropes only. No examples.

What is the purpose of this exercise? Well, genres are different for everyone. They are subjective and dependent on personal experience, as they depend on what you have read, seen and heard. So I am interested in what potential genre names suggest. What is the essence of individual genres?

Alternative History
Apocalyptic Fiction
Bizarro Fiction
Christian Science Fiction
Comic Science Fiction
Counterfacual history
Dark Fantasy
Dying Earth
Dystopian Fiction
Epic Fantasy
Feminist Science Fiction
Future Noir
Gonzo Fiction
Gothic Fiction
Hard Science Fiction
Heroic Bloodshed
Heroic Fantasy
Islamic Science Fiction
Libertarian Science Fiction
Military Science Fiction
Mythic Fiction
Paranoid Fiction
Planetary Romance
Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Psychological Thriller
Science Fantasy
Slasher Fiction
Social Science Fiction
Soft Science fiction
Space Opera
Space Western
Superhero Fiction
Supernatural Fiction
Sword and Planet
Sword and Sorcery
Urban Fantasy
Urban Fiction
Utopian Fiction
Weird Fiction


  1. chesh August 23, 2010

    Alternative History: A story that supposes that some major historical event (what constitutes major is up for debate, but a good benchmark would probably be something that 80% or more of readers in the area the story is to be published know of; wars and major scientific breakthroughs are the common ones) happened differently, or at another time. It could take place contemporaneously with that event, or sometime after it (which does not necessarily mean modern, though). This change from our history informs the events of the story; sometimes characters that wouldn’t be sympathetic in our world end up being so because of changed circumstances in the fictional world. Any genre that ends in -punk is probably a subset of this.

  2. Will Ellwood August 23, 2010

    Space Opera: Interplanetary dynastic and political feuds. Baroque & Gothic. Simple mono-mythic stories layered on top of each other. All threads collide. Epic in scale. Either set in a gilded age or advancing towards one.

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