Tarot.io is publishing some scifi works in partnership with Scifi.io (another Subsoap imprint) as the site where the free online versions are distributed. Scifi (science fiction) is a genre of fiction which intersects with fictional ideas of science. With the Scifi.io works, we classify them within three distinct sections.

Scifi.io Core - Hard science fiction. The laws of reality.
Scifi.io Flux - Soft science fiction. The rule of cool.
Scifi.io Magi - Fantasy science fiction. Space magic.

These classifications are useful for various reasons. The primary reason is to manage expectations. You as a reader know that if you read a Core story, it’s going to be as close to possible reality as can be done. If you read a Flux story, then you know it’s going to go loose and fast with the scifi to tell a cool story - without dipping into what could be too easily be called magic. And Magi is just magic + scifi - space wizards, supernatural horrors, and so on.

A well known “law” is: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. However, for Magi it’s up to you as the reader if you think it’s some kind of advance technology, or actual magic. It could be either in some cases, but if something is possibly both without a clear absolute answer, it gets put into Magi.

Some authors like to say that their dragon stories are scifi. That may be correct in some stories, but for us these kinds of categorizations are about managing reader expectations. If it’s not dragons discovered on another world or engineered + interesting technology as a fusion that is highly involved in the story it won’t be classified as Scifi.io property. To be clear, we would put a dragon story under Magi if it also had guns with magic bullets in a world that had rampaging AIs. But if it’s just dragons in a bronze age setting with no interesting technology, it will probably go elsewhere. Classification can be tough - we’ll in the end trust our guts.

Anything under Scifi.io should sufficiently be a story about science / technology, or involve these concepts heavily in the story. Otherwise it belongs elsewhere.

The reason we don’t use the common general hard scifi term is that we feel it is too broadly used. Thus we do not use soft scifi either.

Core

Icon: Saturn

Science fiction which holds extremely close to what is likely to be possible in reality can be useful to inspire people to make those ideas real. Empirical data. Hard laws of reality.

Some people prefer fact based science fiction. In this case, Core is writing to market for this audience.

Everything labeled Core is automatically on probation until it has been vetted by scientists and engineers at a satisfying level.

If anything is needed for the story which puts it outside of Core, then it should not be labeled as Core.

If what we know about reality becomes more accurate over time and this clashes with a story, it must either be updated or moved to Flux.

Writing good Core scifi that has no accuracy issues can be difficult. That’s fine! This category will have the least amount of works.

Flux

Icon: Mecha

Inaccuracies and impracticalities compared to our world are allowed for the benefit of the story. If we want to do anything which is cool but doesn’t really follow the normal rules of the universe, then it should go here. An example would be a mostly realistic world, but bipedal mechas carrying swords are used for combat - not really practical or efficient, but really cool.

The rules within the Flux stories should still be consistent and possible to understand.

Due to how many stories which were intended for Core may land instead in Flux it may give the idea that Flux is meant to be a rigidly near-Core category, but this is not the case. It is just a broad category. Flux and Magi are likely to be the two largest categories.

No magic. This can be a tough rule to rule on in some cases. Some things which seem magical can still have a plausible scientific explanation (even if that explanation is clearly beyond our current understanding of reality). What is magic should be defined as anything where you really have to lawyer up to get near to a satisfying scientific explanation. Say you capture an undying lich who used to live in a black hole and turned that lich into a gun. Then the guy who owns that gun can shoot out lighting from his finger tips at will, can call down lightning strikes anywhere he points his fingers at. You may be able to try to explain that with some scientific sounding concepts but… it’s better to throw that into Magi. There can still be in universe explanations of what is allegedly magic, but at the half way point between science fiction and fantasy it needs to go into Magi.

Magi

Icon: Dragon

If anything outright uses something which could be classified as magic it should go here. This is the realm of space wizards and space magic. It is a fun place - a fusion of scifi and fantasy.

Even though Magi has magic, the magic systems should still generally follow rules which can be understood. Limitations, boundaries, costs and consequences should all be something that relates to cause and effect.

If a work is far more fantasy than scifi, it may deserve a better home than Scifi.io still.

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Why not publish on a Library on Scifi.io?

This will be more obvious once we get more done and live from various imprints. The general reasoning is to concentrate as much into one place to read for free online. The other imprints such as Scifi.io will still have their own promo pages and will market the paid versions to buy.

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In this article, you learned about the various categories for Scifi.io and now have a general idea of what sorts of works will go into each bucket. For example, it should be obvious that Depth belongs in the Magi bucket. Though Depth has scifi elements, it also has elements which go too far beyond scientific fact into the abyss of the unknowable.