What does "SF" stand for? Given both Kafka's Metamorphosis Animal Farm being a novella, SF is possibly a novella too. Searching returns back San Francisco, I am not sure it is correct in this context.

Richard Dawkins just tweeted: Kafka’s Metamorphosis is called a major work of literature. Why? If it’s SF it’s bad SF. If, like Animal Farm, it’s an allegory, an allegory of what? Scholarly answers range from pretentious Freudian to far-fetched feminist. I don’t get it. Where are the Emperor’s clothes?


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    Science fiction? Jun 6, 2021 at 8:51
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    Seems too big a category and abstract here, given the fact that both Kafka's Metamorphosis and the Animal Farm being specifically a novella. On second thought, your guess is possible.
    – NewPlanet
    Jun 6, 2021 at 8:56
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    Like you, I've found that search engines are not always very good at looking up abbreviations - they tend to try to give one single answer, which may not be the one you're looking for. A better option, next time you're faced with a mystery abbreviation, is Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page headed "SF" has a long list of things "SF" could stand for, including San Francisco and science fiction. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF You can replace "SF" at the end of the web address with whatever other abbreviation you want to check.
    – A. B.
    Jun 6, 2021 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


SF might mean "science fiction", as proposed in earlier answers or comments. Or it can also refer to "speculative fiction". This is a larger category that includes both science fiction and fantasy. Using this term recognizes that both science fiction and fantasy works often are grounded in speculation about what the consequences would be of some change in how the world works (whether it's the introduction of a new technology or of some kind of magic).

SF in this sense also encompasses magical realism, such as the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Haruki Murakami. In magical realist works, some elements of magic are introduced into an otherwise mundane world, and the characters' interaction with those magical events are explored. This is where The Metamorphosis is likely meant to fit in to the broad genre of SF.

That said, it's hard to know exactly what's meant from a 280-character tweet, and tweets can also be offhand comments that the writer hasn't thought especially carefully about. You shouldn't expect the same level of exactitude of terminology in a tweet from Richard Dawkins as you would in his published work. I also don't know if Richard Dawkins is the kind of person who cares about hair-splitting in distinguishing genre categories such as science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and speculative fiction.

Seems too big a category and abstract here, given the fact that both Kafka's Metamorphosis and the Animal Farm being specifically a novella.

I'm not sure how that relates. There have been many novellas published in the genre of SF (whether science fiction or speculative fiction). The major SF magazines (Analog, Asimov's, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) have typically each published one or two novellas per month for decades. And online magazines continue to publish novellas in these genres.


Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology

Ref en.wikipedia

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