Though sci-fi is an incredibly broad genre, modern sci-fi can occasionally feel pigeonholed into following the most popular franchises. That’s why this map by Ward Shelly is so fascinating, even if it’s been around for a while. It charts the growth and many off-shoots of fiction to show where science fiction came from and its relation to other genres and its own subgenres. From the horror of Frankenstein to the fantastic ideas of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, through the pulp magazines and dystopian novels, all the way to the Star Trek and Star Wars explosion, it’s an intriguing look at where some of our most popular stories come from.
My one major complaint is that the map doesn’t seem to take into account much non-Western science fiction beyond a small offshoot of “Japanamation,” which may be one of the most horrible words ever conceived. For instance, where’s the mention of Mobile Suit Gundam, a space opera that created a new genre of “realistic” giant robot stories? Or Power Rangers (neé Super Sentai), which helped define non-American, scientific-influenced superheroes for the Japanese?
It would have also been cool to have seen genres that left the map through holes return via branches into major genres. Why not tie the crime-mystery genre to Blade Runner, or note the influence of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror on series like Mass Effect? Certainly the Western genre deserves to be linked to multiple stories from Star Wars to Firefly. Obviously, I’m nitpicking a 2D image when the only way to truly conceptualize a map of science fiction would be some sort of multilayered 3D image. It’s still worth taking five minutes to examine the progression of our media.
[Via Ward Shelly]