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mark211What are the biggest differences between Fantasy and Science Fiction for you?2017-03-12 06:53:38
mark211Hello again - OK, so this question may not apply to everyone, but I know quite a few people who are avid readers and writers of Sci-Fi who are generally left cold by, and are even dismissive of, Fantasy. Which makes me wonder what is it that they are seeing as the difference between the two: it's especially noticeable for me as two of my favourite authors - Jack Vance and Poul Anderson - wrote widely in the fields of both Science Fiction and Fantasy (and in fact both wrote novels in which blurred the distinction so that it read like Fantasy but it became obvious sooner or later that the 'magic' was simply super advanced technology from another age).2017-03-12 06:57:29
mark211So - what are you thoughts on this? Do you see a clear difference between the two and if so what is it? Alternatively, if you think the distinction is less obvious, why? And what is it that you think others can see to make them think that?2017-03-12 06:58:39
GordonRowlinsonI see a clear and significant difference between the two literary genres. Science Fiction is great. Fantasy sucks.2017-03-12 10:28:46
WessonScience fiction is for snobs, go fantasy.2017-03-12 18:48:58
mark211@GordonRowlinson: OK, so the "Science Fiction is great." part I can get on board with no problem - but "Fantasy sucks."? Come on man, that needs an explanation ...2017-03-13 13:57:29
mark211@ Wesson: "Science fiction is for snobs" it is?2017-03-13 13:57:59
GordonRowlinsonI was quite certain that my detailed and rather brilliant analysis that I posted on Sunday cleared up all loose ends in this discussion. However I am now perplexed to see questions... I tend to define Science Fiction as stories of a possible future (no matter how far fetched) and Fantasy as stories of the impossible. Feel free to define it as something else. My tastes in literature are stories that are somewhat believable. Even when Science Fiction has a weak scientific explanation, it tends to work for me. Fantasy asks for too much suspension of belief from me. There is also a lot of medieval imagery in Fantasy with swords, castles, and princesses. These are things on the past, not the future. Castles were built to protect the Lord and his people from warfare with ancient weapons. No one in the future will build a castle to protect from weapons of the present or future. It is interesting that our culture has this romantic vision of this rather negative period in history. It's like we can't let go of this stuff. I will admit that one could make a convincing argument that Fantasy is more creative than Science Fiction because there are no limits. You can go nuts! Maybe I'm right. Maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to disagree with me.2017-03-14 15:46:00
Wesson (ParabellumPress)Sorry, I was just being cranky.2017-03-14 21:13:01
Wesson (ParabellumPress)Personally, I prefer fantasy because it's usually free of social commentary. A lot of science fiction I see (but not all) is built around some absurd cautionary tale or conspiracy theory. Something like "In the future, the coffee plant will be extinct, leading to a coffee-less dystopia where only dictators will control the remaining coffee. We'll have coffee wars and coffee concentration camps, a third of humanity will die from coffee-withdraw." (Bear with me, I'm making this up as I go) Fantasy, by comparison, makes a lot more sense to me, even with all its impossibilities. Sometimes it's more fun to sit back and watch a story unfold rather than over-analyze the details. 2017-03-14 21:14:26
IronspiderDifferences? Like Gordon I've always looked at straight (hard) science fiction as being based within the realms of possibility; all else being science-fantasy through to high-fantasy. However, its up to the individual where the demarcation occurs. For example, though the Monoliths are a 'fantastical' device, I'd place 2001 squarely in science fiction. Star Wars falls into science-fantasy; Lord of the Rings into high-fantasy. To be honest, if you enjoy the story you're reading, who cares what label it should carry...2017-03-15 02:30:35
mark211@GordonRowlinson: Just to be clear, I've no intention of trying to change your mind - I was just interested in your reasons because I love fantasy fiction equally with science fiction and although obviously I see a distinction - several in fact - I've never arrived at the conclusion that "Fantasy sucks" - but I'm not offended (or 'triggered' as I believe young folk say these days) in the slightest.2017-03-15 12:20:41
mark211@GordonRowlinson: "I tend to define Science Fiction as stories of a possible future (no matter how far fetched) and Fantasy as stories of the impossible." OK, so here's a poser for you - where does a time travel novel involving a figure from the present or (near) future travelling back in time and discovering magic is real fit into that definition? And from another perspective, what about Arthur C. Clarke's notorious quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."? All manner of technologies available to us even now are blurring the lines between the real, the technological and the magical (think VR or Augmented Reality for instance) - Is that SF or Fantasy? 2017-03-15 12:25:03
mark211@Wesson (ParabellumPress) "Personally, I prefer fantasy because it's usually free of social commentary." It depends what you mean by "social commentary" of course, but what I often love about fantasy - at least many of the ones I like - is that they are quasi-historical fictions. Like 'Game of Thrones', they are often loosely based on real historical events (in whole or part) but then reimagined as a powerful social drama - there is noting like Fantasy in my mind for highlighting the power dynamics between major actors in the drama. 2017-03-15 12:28:41
mark211@Ironspider: You're right of course - Star Wars has far more in common with The Lord of the Rings than it does with 2001 (or pretty much anything by Greg Bear). But I think the distinction between the two genres (and their variations) - if they can be said to exist at all - are frequently transgressed. I mean, where would you place H. P. Lovecraft? An obvious answer is 'Horror', but then is it SF Horror or Fantasy horror? Does it make it Science Fiction and not Fantasy if I envision a remote world of knights in shining armour and magic where enough hints are dropped to show that the 'magic' is really just advanced technology (e.g. 'a rod of thunder' turns out to be a shotgun made strange through the description in the prose)? Is 'Dune' Science Fiction or Fantasy? (I mean you're right, it doesn't matter really, but then that makes me even more curious as to why people seem to have such strong views on the matter).2017-03-15 12:35:32
rtthe word SCIENCE2017-03-16 11:13:30
Ironspider@Mark211: Yup, transgression between/through/across/under the genres is what I find keeps me interested. Sometimes I find fantasy stories just a little too... fantastical! As I said in a previous discussion, I've always preferred fantasy tales where the use of magic carries a price - think of Elric in the Moorcock stories or Ged in the Earthsea series. Equally, if the 'magic' is actually technology, I like it to conform to some basic functionality, rather than just outlandish pseudo-science that changes depending on the writers' need within the plot.2017-03-17 07:13:40
dandrew72Interesting question. From a writer's perspective, I find fantasy harder to write but that's just me. Something this topic has raised in my mind is this: could a story be both sci-fi and fantasy? 2017-03-19 09:36:33
Ironspider@dandrew72: don't see why science fiction and fantasy elements can't appear within the same story! As Mark211 mentioned, some of Lovecraft's work spanned a whole range of genres - are the Great Old Ones actually gods, or just a form of life not yet encountered. Is Yog-Sothoth a god-like being or the embodiment of the concept of space-time? Perhaps even a sentient force that originated within the Big Bang and waits outside of time and space for the Big Crunch. I think the limitation on how 'genres' are interpolated is the imagination of the writer.2017-03-20 00:47:09

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