Exploring New Directions in Sci-fi

As a new author in sci-fi, keeping up to date with what’s changing in the genre is really important. So I’ve been reading more sci-fi lately. And I’m seeing some trends you might find interesting. 

If you haven’t picked up many sci-fi books recently, here’s what’s you might have missed. 

Image of a galaxy.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


There are so many different types of sci-fi stories available now. If you previously thought sci-fi wasn’t for you, check out the variety of sub-genres you can choose from today. 

Not interested in military stories but intrigued by the idea of colonising new planets? Want to try dystopias with high tech themes? Prefer your space operas sprinkled with humour? Sci-fi is a much broader category than it used to be.

The category options on online retailers are scrambling to catch up. You may have to search a while to find the right story for you. But trust me, it’s there.


I’m in awe of the fantastic range of gorgeous covers showing up in this genre. We are no longer stuck with planets, spacecrafts, robots, and other obviously futuristic motifs. High contrast covers are still popular. But these days, sci-fi covers aren’t designed to tell you what the book’s about. They’re designed to make you wonder. 

Be warned, if you’re the type of reader who gets sucked in by a beautiful looking book, you could end up with a large to-be-read pile!


Sci-fi titles are getting shorter and more impactful. They are alluring fragments to capture your interest. Often they contain words that are very specific to the story. And may not make much sense without that context.

Today’s titles will encourage you to check out the book description to find out more. Which is always a great idea, because we don’t buy books just for the cover, do we?

Big themes

There’s a good reason why covers and titles are becoming less obviously science-related. Sci-fi books aren’t just about science. They also examine important themes. If you want to ponder on the big philosophical questions without working your way through the literary classics, you might need a bigger sci-fi shelf.

From what constitutes human connection, to how our impact on the climate might impact us, there are plenty of burning questions. And enough sci-fi stories written around them to keep your brain active for a long time.

Slow starts and fast finishes

With stories getting more complex, there can be a lot of set-up involved at the beginning. This makes the story slow to get going, with most of the action being left to the end.

For readers, this means investing a lot of time learning about the world of the story. Before any exciting events come your way. If you are a fan of delayed gratification, this trend will work for you. If not, you might find the reviews helpful in identifying the type of pacing used.

Criminal crews

This is a new spin on the old ‘ragtag bunch of misfits’ trope. And I’m not loving this trend.

If you had spent billions on a space programme, would you put the fate of humanity in the hands of dangerous convicts? To save a fraction of a percentage of your budget? I’m willing to suspend disbelief to a point, but to me, this is a ludicrous idea. Which again highlights the importance of reading the book description and perhaps the first few pages. And not just falling for a beautiful cover!

Have you noticed any other trends in sci-fi books? What are you loving or not loving?

Enjoyed this post?

You might also like: The Rut of Lost Readers.

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10 thoughts on “Exploring New Directions in Sci-fi

  1. I’m old enough to be pleased about the return to a broader spectrum of science in scifi – philosophy and sociology used to be mainstream in the ‘early’ days. I think the pinch point of militaristic scifi came about because of the success of Star Wars. It got hard to find anything else around then.
    There are beautiful things around now which also allow freedom from the sexual innuendo and misogyny that makes the early scifi often very painful to reread!
    My fave goto is Becky Chambers.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think that [not written for women readers+] was true – I mean, even Anne McCaffrey’s work of that time was full of the battle between the sexes, which was not what it is now. Sassinak and the Ship who Sang (which I reread recently) both have cringeworthy moments when the men treat the women like… men treated women in those days. Maybe it was the only genre at that time that was able to expose it for what it was (she said, with sudden insight).
        +but then of course, most women readers were expected to keep to washing machine instructions and recipe books.
        More thoughts: many many more women scifi writers now (or we’ve come out from behind the initials)!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Sci-Fi is changing and for the better (IMHO) in most cases, though I am not fond of the Star Wars militaristic thing. I suppose. I hope, rather than suppose, mankind will have developed/evolved more should we survive long enough. Even the old guard seems to have revitalized themselves. David Brins, “Existence” is spectacular.
    Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Ruin” and “Bear head” as well as Michael Cobleys “Splintered Suns” are notable but also many of the new Sci-Fi authors (those with a more science or philosophical bent) are gaining momentum with me.

    Sci-Fi when you said about older female writers. There was Ursula Le Guin, Sheri. S. Tepper. Octavia Bulter and I would hazard, too old for either of you to know Naomi Mitcheson. All were great writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Military sci-fi definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone but some people love it. It’s great to have so many options so we can all find something of interest. Thanks for all the book and author recommendations. I’ll have to check them out!

      Liked by 1 person

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