Genre guide – Science fiction

This page links to recommended reading lists for a range of science fiction sub-genres as well as other sci-fi resources. It also lists science fiction authors whose work you may like to try - including familiar names and some that may be new to you.

Alien worlds, inter-species politics, exploration and survival, adventure and romance - science fiction is a genre that mixes the purely imaginative with serious science content. Many science fiction novels are now considered classics, not just of the genre itself but of literature generally.

From a time machine built in Victorian England, to man-made machinery taking on an intelligence of its own, to social commentary on politics and the nature of humanity, science fiction presents the reader with a version of the universe as it could be.

Prefer magic to science? Try our Fantasy fiction genre guide.

Authors of science fiction:

Recommended reading

Alien invasion

The alien invasion genre stems the fear of discovering ourselves lower on the food chain. The superior alien race is often used as an allegory for military hegemony as an uneasy reminder of just how cold and calculating humans can be when it comes to displacing native inhabitants for access to resources. Who will win? us or them?

Classic science fiction (SF Masterworks series)

The 'SF Masterworks' series is dedicated to reprinting some of the best sci-fi stories in history. These authors and titles truly stand the test of time and this list is but a small taster of very rich pickings indeed. A great place to launch on your Sci-Fi reading journey, to revisit old favourites, or even make a new discovery of an old master.

Cyberpunk

These stories explore the intersection of humanity and computers/robotics - set against an explosive, gritty, twisted and dystopian backdrop. If you're into worlds where hackers, artificial intelligence and shady megacorporations coexist, these are the books for you.

Feminist science fiction

Presents powerful critiques of the dominant culture, imagining far futures and alternate worlds - utopian, dystopian and skewed - in which power structures are shifted or intensified in ways that illuminate issues in our time.

Hard science fiction

The sub-genre that puts the ‘science’ in ‘Science Fiction’. These stories have high levels of scientific and technical accuracy, and speculate about potential futures or imagined alternative futures for humanity, with an emphasis on the scientific elements that could make such futures possible.

Humorous science fiction

Science Fiction which does not takes itself too seriously. Characters with razor sharp wit, plot-lines which boggle the mind and warp reality in a zany fashion, and epic world-building - a usual hallmark of great science-fiction. Satire, sarcasm, pure silliness... there will be something here to tickle everyone's funny bone.

LGBTQIA+ speculative and fantasy fiction 

This list has stories about LGBTQIA+ characters set in Sci-Fi or Fantasy worlds. These stories are often dark and full of drama with life-threatening adventures, or with bright and fantastical settings filled with strange creatures and bursting with magic. If you like stories based around awesome environments, and cool, interesting characters grab one of these and get transported into another world!

Military science fiction

Expect battles against an unknowable enemy, faster than light travel to leave you reeling, and an honour-bound duty to protect humanity and to secure peace across the galaxy. It’s no small thing being a space marine. These are big stories, most are the beginning of larger series - you’ll find action, adventure, and camaraderie.

New Zealand fantasy/horror/science fiction

A selection of titles celebrating Fantasy, Horror, and Sci-Fi born from the minds of talented, sometimes legendary New Zealand authors. There are epic quests, magical happenings, ghouls, and supernatural creatures from Māori myth, as well as slashers and killers. Some stories have distinctly Kiwi settings, others a more international flavour.

Sci-fi/horror

What could be more terrifying than the unknown threat from a dominant species from the depths of space? Or perhaps the violent invasion of a race of super-beings, the biological threats of widespread infection, the unknown consequences of relic discovery - it all looks bad for us puny humans facing the unknown of the deep black universe.

Social science fiction

Part science fiction and part speculation about society. Social Science Fiction blends the otherworldly epic story-telling of traditional sci-fi with critical social commentary to create beautiful narratives that are bound to stay with you long after you have finished reading them.

Space opera

Whether it be intergalactic travel, deep space warfare, or alien encounters expect storytelling on a grand scale.

Survival & exploration science fiction

On alien worlds there’s no telling the dangers, so our heroes must use every ounce of their sound judgement and intellect to keep themselves and the human race from extinction. Sometimes science heavy, sometimes wild and adventurous, these titles explore what it takes to survive in the face of unknowable perils.

Time travel, parallel worlds & alternate histories

We’re all travelling forwards through time at a constant rate of exactly one second per second, but what if things were different? What if we could jump back in history, or ahead to the future, or sideways to another dimension where history isn’t quite what we learnt at school? 

Science fiction graphic novels

A great collection of sci-fi stories from the near future to far flung galaxies, interstellar travel, cyborgs, alien encounters and space warfare.

For more science fiction try:

Award winners

In the catalogue

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