Infographic: The History of Science Fiction

If you like to get lost in impossibly large charts like the Stephen King Universe then I have a treat for you.

I’ve just come across a drawing/infographic/chart by Ward Shelley which plots the history of science fiction from its earliest precursors, the epic myths lost to time, through the enlightenment and the gothic novel to the birth of the first true SF novel, Frankenstein.

Things get awfully complicated after that point as SF branches off into multiple subgenres which split and recombine in surprising ways. Click on the infographic below to see more detail.

But before you get lost in the drawing, I wanted to point out that you can buy this as a print. At 40″ by 22″ it is not a large poster, but it is an expensive one.  It cost me $44.

Too much, do you think?

click to embiggen
click to embiggen

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Greg Strandberg29 June, 2015

    Pretty clear how much the Hugo and Nebula dominate the new space opera and cyberpunk categories. Cool infographic, thanks for sharing!

  2. fjtorres29 June, 2015

    Nice chart.
    Big problems in the New Space Opera area:

    NO. DAVID. WEBER???!!!
    NO. BUJOLD???!!!

    No modern military SF at all?

    Who commissioned this thing? TOR?
    When you exclude and entire genre *and* prominently feature L. Ron Hubbard and recent LeGuin…

    Not. Good.

    1. fjtorres29 June, 2015

      No modern alternate history, either.
      C’mon! No Turtledove? Flint? Stirling?

      If they’d drawn a line at the turn of the century it might be tolerable but that listing does not cover contemporary SF well at all.

      1. Nate Hoffelder29 June, 2015

        They got Vinge, including the later works. I think Doctorow is also on there.

    2. Nate Hoffelder29 June, 2015

      Bujold is mentioned several times (about 2 to 3 o clock). Let me go see if the others can be found.

      1. fjtorres29 June, 2015

        Oh, yeah…
        They have her listed as “cyberpunk”.
        Obviously they haven’t read her.

  3. Gbm29 June, 2015

    I did not find Andre Norton or Murray Leinster, can tot have a chart without them.

  4. Sharon Reamer30 June, 2015

    Why is Fantasy lumped in with Science Fiction but as a poor cousin tentacle at the bottom and then only a smidgen of it? I wouldn’t have paid anything for this.

  5. […] Infographic: The History of Science Fiction. […]

  6. […] * An infographic about sci-fi. You need to embiggen it a lot to view, but interesting. […]


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