Planetary romance

Planetary romance is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy in which the bulk of the action consists of adventures on one or more exotic alien planets, characterized by distinctive physical and cultural backgrounds. Some planetary romances take place against the background of a future culture where travel between worlds by spaceship is commonplace; others, particularly the earliest examples of the genre, do not, and invoke flying carpets, astral projection, or other methods of getting between planets. In either case, it is the planetside adventures which are the focus of the story, not the mode of travel.[1]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction mentions two caveats as to the usage of the term. First, while the setting may be in an alien world, its nature is of little relevance to the plot, as is the case of James Blish's A Case of Conscience. Second, hard science fiction tales are excluded from this category, where an alien planet, while being a critical component of the plot, is just a background for a primarily scientific endeavor, such as Hal Clement' s Mission of Gravity, [2] possibly with embellishments.

A significant precursor of the genre is Edwin L. Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905).[2]

In Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (1985), editor and critic David Pringle named Bradley and Anne McCaffrey two "leading practitioners nowadays" for the planetary romance type of science fiction.[3]

There is a significant overlap of the genre with that of sword and planet.

Imagination 195308
Cover of Imagination, August 1953.


Planet stories 1947fal
Cover of Planet Stories, Fall 1947.

In fiction

In comics

In film and television


See also


  1. ^ See Science Fiction Citations: Planetary Romance Archived 2008-01-08 at the Wayback Machine; and John Clute, "Planetary Romance", in Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, ed. John Clute and Peter Nicholls, 1995, ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
  2. ^ a b Planetary Romance
  3. ^ David Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, An English-language selection, 1949–1984, London: Xanadu Publ, 1985. Page 17. Pringle does not include any Bradley or McCaffrey novels. Introducing his selections, he says, "I admit to blind spots—for example, I have little affection for the type of sf story which has been called 'planetary romance'".

External links

A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars is a science fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of his Barsoom series. It was first serialized in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine from February–July, 1912. Full of swordplay and daring feats, the novel is considered a classic example of 20th-century pulp fiction. It is also a seminal instance of the planetary romance, a subgenre of science fantasy that became highly popular in the decades following its publication. Its early chapters also contain elements of the Western. The story is set on Mars, imagined as a dying planet with a harsh desert environment. This vision of Mars was based on the work of the astronomer Percival Lowell, whose ideas were widely popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Barsoom series inspired a number of well-known 20th-century science fiction writers, including Jack Vance, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and John Norman. The series was also inspirational for many scientists in the fields of space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life, including Carl Sagan, who read A Princess of Mars when he was a child.

Chandler Award

The Chandler Award is presented by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation for "Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction".

It is named in recognition of the contribution that science fiction writer A. Bertram Chandler made to Australian science fiction, and because of his patronage of the Foundation.

Unlike the Ditmars, this award is decided upon by a jury and, although nominally an annual award presented in conjunction with the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, is not necessarily presented every year.

The first Chandler Award was presented in 1992 to Van Ikin at the National Science Fiction Convention - SynCon '92.

Galaxy Award (China)

The Galaxy Award (Chinese:银河奖, pinyin: yín hé jiǎng) is China's most prestigious science fiction award, which was started in 1986.In September 2016, the 27th galaxy award was held at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics;, in November 2017, the 28th award ceremony was held in Chengdu, China.

Gothic science fiction

Gothic science fiction, also known as space goth, is a subgenre of science fiction that involves gothic conventions. By definition, the subgenre attempts to capture the dark atmosphere of gothic fiction while also incorporating elements of science fiction.

Some of the more obvious examples of the subgenre feature vampires explained in a science fiction context, commonly that vampires are aliens or those infected by a disease (as in Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend), or products of parallel evolution (as in George R. R. Martin's novel Fevre Dream, Kate Nevermore's novel Blood of the Living and briefly mentioned in Peter Watts' novel Blindsight). Some feature entire planets of vampires, or vampire-like creatures (such as the comic book Vampirella). Other works in the subgenre apply gothic conventions to the setting of outer space and the concept of extraterrestrials (such as the films Alien and Event Horizon or the video game Doom). Some works blend gothic science fiction with other science fiction subgenres. For example, the film Blade Runner is primarily a cyberpunk neo-noir, but it contains gothic elements in its themes and visual design.

In his history of science fiction, Billion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss contends that science fiction itself is an outgrowth of gothic fiction, pointing to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein as an example: "Science fiction is the search for a definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science) and is characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mode." The blend can also be detected quite explicitly in Jules Verne's novel Le Château des Carpathes, and the Philip Hinchcliffe produced era of Doctor Who.

Other examples of the subgenre feature other traditionally gothic tropes in new settings, such as:

Gothic planetary romance

Gothic futuristic romance

Damsels in distress in faraway future

List of science fiction publishers

This is a list of science fiction publishers, publishers of science fiction, SF studies, speculative fiction, fantasy literature, and related genres.


Abelard Science Fiction

Ace Books


Aqueduct Press

Arkham House

Avalon Science FictionB

Badger Books

Baen Books

Baen Ebooks, formerly Webscriptions

Ballantine Books

Bantam Spectra

Berkley Books

Bent Agency

Bison Books

Brick Cave MediaC

Canaveral Press


Cheap Street

Chimaera Publications

Cosmos BooksD

DAW Books

Dark Castle Publishing

Del Rey Books

Donald M. Grant

Dragon Moon Press


Double Dragon PublishingE

Eidolon Publications

Elastic Press

Elder Signs Press

Eos BooksF

Fandemonium Books

Fantasy Press

Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc.

Fedogan & Bremer


Flame Tree PublishingG

Gnome Press

Golden Gryphon Press

Gorgon Press


Grant-Hadley Enterprises


Gregg Press

Griffin Publishing CompanyH

Hadley Rille Books

Harper Prism


ISFiC PressJ

John Hunt Publishing

Jurassic LondonK

Kayelle PressL

Lore Lush PublishingM

Mark V. Ziesing

Meisha Merlin Publishing

Mojo PressN

Necronomicon Press

Necropolitan Press


New Collector's Group

Newcastle Publishing Company

New Era


Night Shade Books

Norilana BooksO

Orb Books

Orb Publications

Orbit BooksP

Palliard Press

Panther Books

Parvus Press

Phantasia Press

Phoenix Pick

Prime Books

Prime Press

PS Publishing

Pulphouse Publishing


Rainfall BooksS

St. Martin's Press

Shasta Publishers

Silver Key Press

Small Beer Press

Sphere Books

Subterranean PressT

Tachyon Publications

Ticonderoga Publications

Timescape Books

Tor Books



Victor Gollancz LtdW

Wheatland Press

Wildside Press

Winston Science Fiction

Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon ( SHAY-bon;

born May 24, 1963) is an American novelist and short story writer.Chabon's first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was published when he was 25. He followed it with Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel that John Leonard, in a 2007 review of a later novel, called Chabon's magnum opus. It received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001 (see: 2001 in literature).

His novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, an alternate history mystery novel, was published in 2007 and won the Hugo, Sidewise, Nebula and Ignotus awards; his serialized novel Gentlemen of the Road appeared in book form in the fall of that same year. In 2012 Chabon published Telegraph Avenue, billed as "a twenty-first century Middlemarch," concerning the tangled lives of two families in the Bay Area of San Francisco in the year 2004. Chabon followed Telegraph Avenue in November 2016 with his latest novel, Moonglow, a fictionalized memoir of his maternal grandfather, based upon his deathbed confessions under the influence of powerful painkillers in Chabon's mother's California home in 1989.

Chabon's work is characterized by complex language, the frequent use of metaphor along with recurring themes, including nostalgia, divorce, abandonment, fatherhood, and most notably issues of Jewish identity. He often includes gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters in his work. Since the late 1990s, Chabon has written in an increasingly diverse series of styles for varied outlets; he is a notable defender of the merits of genre fiction and plot-driven fiction, and, along with novels, he has published screenplays, children's books, comics, and newspaper serials.

Monette Cummings

Monette A. Cummings (1914 – 1999) was an American writer of pulp fiction of various genres including regency romance and planetary romance.She was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Her work was collected in Exile and Other Tales of Fantasy, published in 1968.Her novel The Beauty’s Daughter was awarded a RITA Award for Best Regency Historical Romance in 1986.Cummings died in Lawrence, Kansas in 1999.

Mundane science fiction

Mundane science fiction is a subgenre of hard science fiction which is characterized by its setting on Earth or within the solar system, and a lack of interstellar travel, intergalactic travel or human contact with extraterrestrials.

Opera film

An opera film is a recording of an opera on film.

Paul J. McAuley

Paul J. McAuley (born 23 April 1955) is a British botanist and science fiction author.

A biologist by training, McAuley writes mostly hard science fiction, dealing with themes such as biotechnology, alternative history/alternative reality, and space travel.

McAuley began with far-future space opera Four Hundred Billion Stars, its sequel Eternal Light, and the planetary-colony adventure Of the Fall. Red Dust, set on a far-future Mars colonized by the Chinese, is a planetary romance featuring many emerging technologies and SF motifs: nanotechnology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, personality downloads, virtual reality. The Confluence series, set in an even more distant future (about ten million years from now), is one of a number of novels to use Frank J. Tipler's Omega Point Theory (that the universe seems to be evolving toward a maximum degree of complexity and consciousness) as one of its themes.

About the same time, he published Pasquale's Angel, set in an alternative Italian Renaissance and featuring Niccolò Machiavegli (Machiavelli) and Leonardo da Vinci as major characters.

McAuley has also used biotechnology and nanotechnology themes in near-future settings: Fairyland describes a dystopian, war-torn Europe where genetically engineered "dolls" are used as disposable slaves. Since 2001 he has produced several SF-based techno-thrillers such as The Secret of Life, Whole Wide World, and White Devils.

Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1988. Fairyland won the 1996 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the 1997 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. "The Temptation of Dr. Stein", won the British Fantasy Award. Pasquale's Angel won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Long Form).

Scientific romance

Scientific romance is an archaic term for the genre of fiction now commonly known as science fiction. The term originated in the 1850s to describe both fiction and elements of scientific writing, but has since come to refer to the science fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, primarily that of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. In recent years, the term has come to be applied to science fiction written in a deliberately anachronistic style, as a homage to or pastiche of the original scientific romances.

Space opera

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera" and "horse opera", the latter of which was coined during the 1930s to indicate clichéd and formulaic Western movies. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, television and video games.

An early film which was based on space opera comic strips was Flash Gordon (1936) created by Alex Raymond. In the late 1970s, the Star Wars franchise (1977–present) created by George Lucas brought a great deal of attention to the subgenre. After the convention-breaking "New Wave", followed by the enormous success of the Star Wars films, space opera became once again a critically acceptable subgenre. Throughout 1982–2002, the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel was often given to a space opera nominee.


Spelljammer is a campaign setting for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd edition) role-playing game, which features a fantastic (as opposed to scientific) outer space environment.

Spelljammer introduced into the AD&D universe a comprehensive system of fantasy astrophysics, including the Ptolemaic concept of crystal spheres. Crystal spheres may contain multiple worlds and are navigable using ships equipped with "spelljamming helms". Ships powered by spelljamming helms are capable of flying into not only the sky but into space. With their own fields of gravity and atmosphere, the ships have open decks and tend not to resemble the spaceships of science fiction, but instead look more like galleons, animals, birds, fish or even more wildly fantastic shapes.

The Spelljammer setting is designed to allow the usual sword and sorcery adventures of Dungeons & Dragons to take place within the framework of outer space tropes. Flying ships travel through the vast expanses of interplanetary space, visiting moons and planets and other stellar objects.

Like the Planescape setting, Spelljammer unifies most of the other AD&D settings and provides a canonical method for allowing characters from one setting (such as Dragonlance) to travel to another (such as the Forgotten Realms). However, unlike Planescape it keeps all of the action on the Prime Material Plane and uses the crystal spheres, and the "phlogiston" between them, to form natural barriers between otherwise incompatible settings. Though the cosmology is derived largely from the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, many of the ideas owe much to the works of Jules Verne and his contemporaries, and to related games and fiction with a steampunk or planetary romance flavor. A strong Age of Sail flavor is also present.

The Gray Prince

The Gray Prince is a science fiction novel by Jack Vance, first published in two parts in Amazing Science Fiction magazine (August and October 1974 issues) with the title The Domains of Koryphon. Given that the novel's setting, the planet Koryphon, is integral to the plot, The Gray Prince may be said to belong to the science fiction subgenre of the planetary romance. Also significant in this regard is the work's original title, The Domains of Koryphon, which gives prominence to the setting of the conflict narrated in the novel rather than to one of its many characters.

The Outlaws of Mars

The Outlaws of Mars is a science fiction novel by Otis Adelbert Kline in the planetary romance subgenre pioneered by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was originally serialized in seven parts in the magazine Argosy beginning in November 1933. It was first published in book form in 1961 in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1961; the first paperback edition was issued by Ace Books in the same year. Later trade paperback editions were published by Pulpville Press in November 2007 and Paizo Publishing in May 2009.

The novel is a semi-sequel to Kline's earlier Swordsman of Mars, as the setting is the same and the two books have some characters in common.

Urania Award

The Urania Award (known in Italian as the Premio Urania) is an annual literary competition run by the Italian magazine Urania for contemporary Italian science fiction novels. It was held for the first time in 1989.

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