This question about a short story/poem describing a girl's body as a galaxy, and a guy as an astronaut, got closed as off-topic.

The likely answer is a short poem found by Richard. My interpretation of this poem is that it's allegorical, and that there is no actual galaxy or astronaut involved. But it could very well be read literally by someone else; for example, an alternative interpretation could be that the astronaut anthropomorphizes the galaxy as a woman. Unlikely, but possible.

The question is: if the poem admits a literal reading, and there is a galaxy and an astronaut, does this qualify for SF&F? If not, why do we allow questions about the movie Gravity?

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    We've seen this problem pop up for a number of things - I think the real issue here is how we define SF&F content in the first place - it's vague, and maybe that's the problem that should be addressed.
    – Zibbobz
    Sep 12, 2014 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


I've recently started reading all of this year's Hugo nominees. In the Short Story category, all the nominees were hard for me to classify as SF/F. One short short, If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, while being very nice and well-written, can only, as you say, be seen as vaguely allegorically science fictiony. However, it was still published in an SF (online) publication and received enough votes to be a Hugo finalist.

No real answer here, just an observation that many, including the Hugo committee and voters, are willing to take a broad interpretation of what constitutes SF/F.

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    Agreed. Like with The SyFy Channel, we shouldn't necessarily just assume that the publisher, or how/where a work is published determines whether or not a work is SF/F.
    – phantom42
    Sep 12, 2014 at 12:42
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    @phantom42, your comment seems at odds, not aligned with, this answer. Sep 20, 2014 at 3:47
  • How? Avner Shahar-Kashtan mentions stories that are only "vaguely allegorically science fictiony" and were still published in an SF publication and nominated for sci-fi award. The fact that they were published in a SF publication or nominated for SF awards does not necessarily make them SF - just like a show airing on SyFy does not make it SF.
    – phantom42
    Sep 20, 2014 at 13:58
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    @phantom42 I refrained from actually stating a conclusion - because I don't have one - but the one opposite from the one you've come to can be as easily implied from my words - that the boundaries of what is SF, and thus acceptable, are ever-widening. Sep 20, 2014 at 14:02
  • I got that. But the bottom line is the work itself, not who/what publishes it.
    – phantom42
    Sep 20, 2014 at 20:11
  • I've often found that more than half the Hugo Nominees don't even come close to being science fiction. Most seem to be fantasy or ghost stories.
    – Valorum
    Sep 22, 2014 at 14:44
  • Richard: Fantasy is explicitly on-topic, so being fantasy rather than SF is fine, both for the Hugo and for us here. The question is for stories that are entirely non-genre. Sep 22, 2014 at 14:48

In relation to that specific question, without a quote from the author we can't be certain that it isn't literally about the galaxy, personified as a woman, as opposed to the other way around.

My rule of thumb is to operate the "smell test". If it smells like science fiction then it's probably close enough to count.

  • +1 Great testing method Sep 20, 2014 at 3:48
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    I've been sniffing my screen for about an hour now, and I'm still getting nothing. What am I doing wrong?
    – Moogle
    Sep 22, 2014 at 14:17
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    @moogle - You're not close enough.
    – Valorum
    Sep 22, 2014 at 14:43

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