SF CORE Best Lists
SF ERA Best Lists
SF GENRE Best Lists
OTHER Best Lists

Space Western Science Fiction

Yee-haw! Space Western Science Fiction incorporates elements of the American West in a future where humans live in the frontiers of space. The connection the West may be literal with cowboy hats, frontier towns, and colt .52s, or more figurative where the society is depicted as lawless. The correlation of Western and Science Fiction suggests that space exploration will be much like the “taming” of the American West. This sub-genre has had great success beyond the page in the television and movie industries—Firefly and Serenity being popular examples not to mention Han Solo or Bobba Fett.

You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Space Western Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.

Other Features of Space Western Science Fiction

  • Level of Real Science

    A soft moderate. Technology is mixed—horses and androids are in the same setting, but the further the story is from centralized civilization the less high tech the technology.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    Low, with a few exceptions. Space Western Sci Fi is not known for exploring big ideas, but rather with the hardship and adventure of the unexplored frontier.

  • Level of Characterization

    Variable. Some Space Westerns have great complex characters who have understanding motivations. However, often Space Western stories use stock characters like the sheriff figure or the outlaw who never lets a woman come to harm.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Basic. For the most part, plots follow a straight-forward progression and are not particularly complex.

  • Level of Violence

    PG-13 level violence. These stories are going to have gun fights—they may be ray guns or colt revolvers, but in the frontier conflicts arise that are often sorted out with violence.

Related Science Fiction subgenres

  • Space Opera impinges on Space Western when the story is a bit less campy and more epic. Science Fiction Western is incredibly similar thematically to Space Western Sci Fi, but it takes place in the Old American West and adds aliens, future technology, or time travel. If a Space Western includes the use of mystical powers or "magic", then you could further classify it as a Science Fantasy, of which some Space Westerns are (Star Wars).

Popular Space Western Science Fiction Books
  • 1 The Beast Master

    By Andre Norton. A Space Western that also incorporates Native American themes in a frontier world where aliens and humans coexist tenuously. A noteworthy book for any Sci Fi Fan because Norton was the first female writer to be dubbed Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

  • 2 Northwest of Earth

    By C.L. Moore. Nominated for several awards including Nebula and Hugo awards. An interesting take on the Arabian Nights format from a narrator who is two thousand years old. Frontier in its exploration of ideas rather than blazing guns.

  • 3 Time Enough for Love

    By Robert A. Heinlein. Nominated for several awards including Nebula and Hugo awards. An interesting take on the Arabian Nights format from a narrator who is two thousand years old. Frontier in its exploration of ideas rather than blazing guns.

  • 4 A Princess of Mars

    By Edgar Rice Burroughs. Transplants an American Civil War veteran to Mars and a harsh desert environment. Influenced the movie John Carter.

  • 5 The Martian Chronicles

    By Ray Bradbury. The first modern work to be well received by academics and the literary establishment. A short story collection that retells the American experience of settling the West.

  • 6 A Myth of the Far Future

    By Mike Resnick Santiago. A wild west tale complete with shoot-outs, lonely heroes, and faithless sidekicks. Follows an outlaw in the Inner Frontier of the galaxy.

  • 7 Girl in the Landscape

    By Jonathan Lethem A coming of age story about a girl who must leave the dying Earth to be among the first humans to settle on another planet. An interesting read because the settlers are not cheerful and the aliens next door are not helpful.

  • 8 Earthman's Burden

    By Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. A series of short stories. A comical take on the Space Western sub-genre. A teddy-bear like alien race comes across Earth's Western tales and reenacts the stories.

  • 9 Lone Star Planet

    By H. Beam Piper. A bit of a parody of Space Western, but in a good way—think Texan stereotypes occupying another planet.

  • 10 Guns of Seneca 6

    By Bernard Schaffer. Many stories in the Space Western sub-genre involve miners—typical of the Western genre. This book combines mining, murder, wasteland, outlaw, and alien into a Space Western adventure.