I've written a science fiction book that has a strong feel of "fantasy." Three quarters of the story is in a medieval/primitive kingdom type settings (think Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time). There are gods and supernatural gifts that some characters have been given. There are no aliens. All the worlds are are peopled by humans, though the animal life varies. There are also portals that connect the worlds. The gods created the portals and created the universe, and there are lots of spiritual/metaphysical questions raised in the book like, such as, why is there suffering in the world and does it have a purpose.

But what makes it sci-fi is that some of the worlds have advanced cultures with starships and such.

I don't want to upset readers expectations and mis-identify the genre. Readers want to know what they are getting. What sub-genre best fits this type of story? Space Opera? Portal fantasy?

Any thoughts or feedback would help. -Brandon Barr


2 Answers 2


If it has supernatural elements such as gods or magic that are not explained as being technological (e.g. a mobile phone would appear magical to someone from the middle ages) it is not Science Fiction but Fantasy. If Fantasy contains futuristic elements such as starships, it is Science Fantasy. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fantasy

As for readers, just describe the setting on the blurb and they will know what to expect.

  • Science Fantasy! Great! Thanks for the link. Feb 4, 2015 at 16:00

Warning: It sounds like Stargate SG-1, with no aliens. That's OK, as long as you make sure you're not being obviously derivative.

To your question: Just say it's "medieval fantasy plus space-opera sci-fi." List it under the genres "medieval," "action adventure," "fantasy," "space opera," and "science fiction." Yes, that's right: all of them. And "fiction," to boot, plus any other categories you think are applicable. But then explain it a bit in your blurb. People understand that.

(For physical bookstores, you'd have to pick only one genre, where they would shelve it. Digital bookstores don't usually require that.)

  • Very valuable tips DMM as to the genre listings and explaining it in the blurb--strangely I hadn't thought of that! Another key would be capturing the genre-mix on the cover. Feb 4, 2015 at 0:41

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