Created By: gyrbot on August 18, 2011 Last Edited By: gyrbot on September 24, 2016

Dark Science Fiction

Dark Fantasy...IN SPACE

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Dark Science Fiction is the futuristic cousin of Dark Fantasy, a futuristic setting meeting a Crapsack World. While there are certain specific genres such as post apocalyptic, Cyberpunk. There is often shared themes within all of them

Technology is seen as a result of unethical science done to make certain things possible and even then the end result is less than perfect, augmentations that eats away at one's humanity, genetic research that is often done for the sake of war and profit and against the subject's will, sentinent robots that have nothing but contempt for the creator. Abusive Precursors are often the norm as the local Cargo Cult will stop at nothing to learn more about the tech they left behind.

In terms of galactic politics, often there a endless conflict between the civilizations. While democracies and republics exist in this fiction, they are often subtly corrupt and profit driven and even the genocidal empire is a seemingly better alternative. Wars of extinction is not uncommon in this galaxy and entire planets are often put to the sword to ensure victory. Otherwise it is a fight to be the new figurehead of the old empire that had fallen eons ago.

Heroes in Dark Science Fiction are the antithesis of the Kirk and Picard Archtype, violent and ammoral. They are battleharded commanders who had to toss away countless of lives to save the galaxy more than once or just delay the ineveitable. Spends their spare time drinking and having sex in various parts of the ship rather than discussing philosophy over tea and coffee. Their relationship with the crew is tenuous at best as they get into fights over almost everthing.

Examples of recent Dark Science Fiction include
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • August 18, 2011
    Mass Effect is a good example if you're a Renegade

    Deus Ex, even more so now that Human Revolution is coming out

    Depending on your DM, Shadow Run can be very dark
  • August 18, 2011
    Tabletop Games
  • August 18, 2011
    Mass Effect is not too much of a Dark Science Fiction, humanity isn't under attack by military races who poses a significant advantage over them and the local warlike races are either kept from having any sort fleet (Krogan and Yahg), inferior in quality (Quarians and Batarians) or merely in a cold war and having tenative respect for (Council Races). Mass Effect Humanity is not in a bad situation and casualty numbers are somewhat low compared to other forms of science fiction.
  • August 18, 2011
  • August 18, 2011
    I don't think Space Opera But Darker And Edgier is a separate genre.
  • August 19, 2011
    Well Dark Science Fiction does have it's own merits and definitely a lot different in tone than normal Space Opera.
  • August 19, 2011
    @Falco- seems to me more like Dark Fantasy recycled IN SPACE but Darker & Edgier Space Opera would also fit.

    Horror Sci-Fi hybrids are pretty common though (Event Horizon, Dark City, Hellraiser Bloodline etc)
  • August 19, 2011
    Lexx probably fits under this.
  • August 20, 2011
    Anything that could add to the trope in terms of topics commonly discussed in science fiction that is made darker?
  • August 20, 2011
  • August 21, 2011
    It's not as recent as some, but Tales From The Afternow definitely qualifies for this.
  • August 22, 2011
    A lot of Lighter And Softer Space Opera would actually be quite dark if you look at it from a different angle. Star Wars has a planet blown up, Babylon Five and Deep Space Nine have sinister intrigue and genocide; the reason they don't look quite as dark is that we focus our attention differently. Firefly has characters presented with a choice between oppression and lawlessness. Andromeda has something of a Crapsack World. And Dune is rather dark even as presented. Honor Harrington and Traveller have a lot of darker stuff such as space wars, space piracy, and space intrigue and so on.
  • August 23, 2011
    War happens in every form of science fiction. Otherwise without conflict there won't be much of a Space Opera. The different is how is situation portrayed and how does most of the cast live, with Dark Sci fi most of the time it is spent on living on basic desires like sex and decadence as demonstrated by the New Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe.
  • August 23, 2011
    We really need Science Fiction but Darker And Edgier? Who let Dark Fantasy out in the first place?

    I really don't think this should ever launch.
  • August 23, 2011
    Well it had it's own set of themes and Dark Science Fiction also have it's place as well.
  • August 24, 2011

    At least I propose a merger between both tropes.
  • November 30, 2012
    Bump. Do we fit this under Dark Fantasy, or is this worthy of a different trope?
  • November 30, 2012
    The problem is the clarity of definition.

    Dark Fantasy is a Crapsack World take on the Standard Fantasy Setting. If, by analogy, you apply Crapsack World to the Standard Sci Fi Setting, you end up with something like Warhammer 40 K--which is not so much sci-fi than fantasy In Space. See, science fiction is grounded in the ideals of the Enlightenment, which posited cooperation and being nice to each other as requirement for scientific progress. In other words, science cannot evolve in a Crapsack World (which we, indeed, see in WH 40 K), so you cannot really speak of science fiction in this case. Instead, a scientifically advanced setting must become a Crapsack World suddenly (as it is, indeed, in Post Apocalyptic fiction) and succumb to Medieval Stasis and Clarkes Third Law, eventually arriving in the Science Fantasy genre.

    In short, we have Cyber Punk and After The End, which cover two possibilities of the Enlightenment going dark again, and everything else is hardly distinguishable from Dark Fantasy.
  • November 30, 2012
    An awful lot of dystopian scifi would qualify, if the dystopia uses technology to ramp up the oppressiveness and corruption. Likewise, shows like Fringe where science is either out of control or being actively used for a malign agenda, and the folks trying to stop it are constantly being assaulted or refused support by those who ought to be backing them up.
  • November 30, 2012
    Dark Fantasy is considered a separate subgenre outside this wiki; it's not something we made up. I'm not sure the same can be said about this.

    eta: Oh, and I think our Dark Fantasy page may need some cleanup and/or TRS. The Other Wiki's Dark Fantasy page says, "Dark fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy which can refer to literary, artistic, and filmic works that combine fantasy with elements of horror." Which is much closer to what I expected our page to say.

    eta x2: and how does this have a hat already?! Some people seem to be very confused about the purpose of hats! A hat doesn't mean "I think this is a trope despite what some people are saying". A hat means "I think this is ready to launch". I sincerely hope nobody thinks this is ready to launch!
  • December 1, 2012
    ^ The Other Wiki also says "A strict definition for dark fantasy is difficult to pin down" and that "'dark fantasy' has sometimes been applied to sword & sorcery and high fantasy fiction that features anti-heroic or morally ambiguous protagonists", which is exactly what our page currently describes.

    As for the hat, the original posters can add hats to their own YKTTW, too. Not implying anything, of course, but just saying...
  • December 9, 2012
  • September 24, 2016
    ^ genre tropes are exempt ffom that rule, AFAIK

    That said
  • September 24, 2016
    Noting here that a trope for Sci Fi Horror was launched several years after this OP was started.
  • September 24, 2016
    I would call Lexx a sci-fi Black Comedy, actually.