What is the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

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What is the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

Post by Bmat »

What is the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

How about this? :

SF is based on science: Whatever happens in the story can be explained or have reference to science.

F is not based on science: There can be magic and other phenomena that are not explained by using science.

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Tina
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Post by Tina »

That definately helps break it down for me a bit. You know what I have a hard time with is when I buy some science-fiction books that are in the fiction section, such as Clive Barker, which is usually in the fiction area. Or, recently I picked up Lost by Gregory Maguire. It was in the sci-fi section at Borders, but it was in the fiction section at Barnes and Noble. I wonder how the bookstore determines which goes where.

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Post by Caltana »

Yes those are the traditional definitions of Science Fiction and Fantasy and certainly accurate enough, however its the grey areas that are always interesting, stories which have mix of both, such as Anne McCaffrey from what I understand, the mix of magic and science is always interesting.
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Post by GOLLUM »

Caltana wrote:...however its the grey areas that are always interesting, stories which have mix of both, such as Anne McCaffrey from what I understand, the mix of magic and science is always interesting.
Yes I agree although I tend to prefer more fantasy than SF in the mix.

I can recommend the following books for those intereested in a mixture of the 2 Genres:

Gene Wolfe - Book of the New Sun (probalby the best meld ever written)
M John Harrison - Viriconium
CS Friedman - Coldfire Trilogy
Marion Zimmer Bradley - Darkover
Michael Swanwick - Iron Dragon's Daughter
Jeff VanderMeer - Veniss Underground
Fletcher Pratt and L Sprage De Camp - Harold Shea Enchanter series
Clark Ashton Smith - Tales of Zothique
Robert Silverberg - Majipoor Cycle

There's probably more...
Even the smallest person can make a diference.

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Post by Neurolanis »

Fantasy is the imagination unleashed, cliqued these days by the Tolkienien style historical style. Sci-Fi is basically fantasy set in a science-based universe. Westerns are fantasies set in an old west setting. Romance is fantasy centered on romannce. Etc. etc. This is my opinion of course. :)

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Post by omnituton »

Was it Arthur C Clarke who observed..." any sufficiently advanced technology / science is indistinguishable from magic"..and i know i've got the quote slightly wrong too.

Im tempted to go with bmat's defintions in general, with the proviso that "science" is not a discipline which we have achieved once and for all time. It presuppositions and frameworks are shifting continually and to such an extent that what we now call science is not the same thing as it was. It's changed so much in a short time that it is likely to undergo even more massive changes in the future.

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Post by who me »

Arthur c. Clarke "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."


there are a good number of similarity's.
lets compare shall we
(BIG GRIN)
in fantasy I get to cast a fire ball or lightning bolt at you.
in SF i shoot you with a lazer gun or a plasma pistol.

if you do not die, in fantasy you are miraculously saved by the gods who have mercy on you.

in SF by a superior alien race. they normally clone you or regenerate you.

levitation = anti grav.
mind reading = brain scanners
portal spells = beaming


in SF I have scanners and in fantasy I have my Chrystal ball.

mutant = trolls

now the last thing that springs to mind is that in both you have elves who are annoyingly snotty. they are also going on about how they are a dying race but never seem to get around to actually doing it, much to the annoyance of every one else.

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Post by Bmat »

I like Neuro's imagination unleashed definition for fantasy. :)

It might be very interesting for a story or book, maybe a novela, to be written twice- once using fantasy and the second using science fiction. Same general characters and storyline. Of course the fantasy would take place with forests and caves and magic and seers. The science fiction version would take place in a modern city. Of course they wouldn't have to. Both could take place in the same setting.

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Post by who me »

you could work in a tie in plot history repeats it self.

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Post by Brys »

Neuro's definition is one I like - unrestrained imagination is an essential element, if not the essential definition of fantasy (small "f"). Unfortunately, most of the Fantasy publishing genre seems to try to stifle true fantasy as much as possible (though some survive, both inside and outside the publishing genre). To me it seems there are two options in defining fantasy - either you take the narrow definition of fantasy - alternate world, generic fiction involving certain stereotypes (Hal Duncan uses this in In the Ghetto:http://notesfromthegeekshow.blogspot.co ... hetto.html (basic argument: genre fiction is generic by nature: Stop trying to claim masters like Moorcock are SF writers, by what right to we have to claim them as our own) - it's the best argument of its type that I've seen, but I'm more inclined to a far broader definition of fantasy - anything with unrestrained imagination and significant use of the unreal - consequently much that is published as mainstream is in actuality fantasy. (I for one don't believe that there is a difference between magic realism and fantasy - they are both fantasy, but one is slightly more focused in the realist element, but it's a difference of emphasis - one that keeps people happy who don't want to be caught reading fantasy). Fiction, by its very nature, is fantasy. People have tried to separate the two, but there's not really a difference. The fantasy genre is just a more obvious, more pronounced divergence from reality, but ultimately they are both that - divergence from reality. All fiction is escapism in some form - that is not to say that escapism is the purpose of all novels, as clearly topical issues from the real world can be addressed in fiction and fantasy - but it is nonetheless a personal escape from the world, if not an escape from the horrible realities of the world. I usually use a much narrower definition of escapism though, as it's simpler to just say that a certain novel is escapist rather than to go into what type of escapism that is.

Science Fiction must have some kind of science element - or a direct evolution from our own society (meaning the world as a whole of course - not just Western society). So hard science fiction, which tries to extrapolate from real science which exists today, or there are dystopian novels, which extrapolate from society today. I think the key point of science fiction is extrapolation. The key point of fantasy is divergence. Of course, these definitions are completely inadequate with certain examples, such as the whole of the alternate history subgenre.

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Post by aldan »

Brys, I find that your extrapolation of the genre of Fantasy as well as the statement that fiction, in and of itself, is fantasy, in that it is writing in which the imagination is used to create a non-real story/situation and the results thereof. When I say non-real, I mean just that. That particular event never happened just the way that it is being described as happening in the novel. Even such things as war novels, in which the writer speaks with survivors, etc., and then creates the story of what was said to have happened, using conversations and quotes that may or may not have been said/used. Is that not fiction?

In non-fiction, such things as quotes must be historically proven valid and that they had truly been said by that person that is being quoted. Saying that one particular soldier of which the book is speaking was the one who shot the arrow that struck the opposing general in the eye, in the middle of the battle, would not be able to be proven, whether or not it was true, so that could not be used, though the fact of the arrow felling said general would be able to be used, as the results of that would be obvious (there were witnesses to him before and after the battle, and likely survivors on one side or both that saw an arrow hit him. Such things are par for the course with that sort of book. Anything that is said that extrapolates or guesses must be labelled as guesswork or extrapolation and not be labelled as factual, unless proven otherwise by those outside of the writer's immediate associates.

Anyhow, such is the non-fiction, non-fantasy world of book writing. We here at Speculative Vision do write fiction, and we even write in the Genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it is my opinion that the 'fantasy' (note the lack of capitalization) term is the most proper for any and all forms of fiction.
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to open it and remove all doubt."
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Post by MrB »

Science Fiction has possibility, Fantasy is pure imagination !
You can't dangle the bogus carrot of possible reconciliation in front of my face whilst riding some other donkey.

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