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Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Neurolanis » Thu Aug 28, 2008 4:53 pm

Yeah I understand. I guess I just look at Sci-Fi in general as futuristic. I think that's probably a majority impression, but I could be mistaken. In truth, yes, a vast range of different story types could fall under "science fiction." I guess, when I think Sci-Fi I think of the futuristic ideas of Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and so forth.

I am not an avid Sci-Fi reader, however, and so I am speaking from an outsider perspective. It would probably annoy me too if someone said something like, "I don't read Fantasy because it's set in the past." :lol:
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Qray » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:21 pm

Most people do get their impression of Science Fiction from TV and movies. Which is a shame for as good as these series and movies are, they do tend to leave people with the idea that is what all science fiction should be. Which it isn't.

A good example, and a work that is considered to be a classic of the science fiction genre is the short story (later turned into a novel)Nightfall by Isaac Asimov. The premise of the story is that there's a planet with more than one Sun, so the planet never knows darkness. Unknown to the inhabitants of the planet, multiple eclipses occur every 2049 years resulting in "night." A more detailed description from wiki follows at the end of this post.

Basically, this classic science fiction story has no technological elements at all. Nor does it deal with a far off future. Granted, it does feature an alien planet, but the people of this planet are no different than the humans of Earth. The only reason it's an alien planet is Asimov needed a setting with more than one Sun. The story deals primarily with the science of psychology, sociology, and astronomy.

So a science fiction story doesn't really need to include advanced technology to be science fiction. Or any technology, for that matter.


Plot Summary
The fictional planet Lagash (Kalgash in the novel adaptation) is located in a stellar system containing six stars (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta are the only ones named in the short story; Onos, Dovim, Trey, Patru, Tano, and Sitha in the novel), which keep the whole planet continuously illuminated; total darkness is unknown, and as a result so are stars outside the solar system. A group of scientists from Saro University begin to make a series of related discoveries: Sheerin 501, psychologist, researches the effects of prolonged exposure to darkness, Siferra 89, an archaeologist, finds evidence of multiple cyclical collapses of civilization, and Beenay 25 is an astronomer who discovered irregularities in the orbit of Kalgash around its primary sun Onos. Beenay takes his findings to his superior at the university, Athor, who formulated the Theory of Universal Gravitation. This forces the astronomers at Saro University to attempt to find an answer to what is causing this anomaly. Eventually it is discovered that the only thing that could be causing the deviation is an astronomical body that orbits Kalgash, simply called Kalgash Two.

Beenay, through his friend Theremon 762 (a reporter), has learned some of the beliefs of the group known as the Apostles of Flame (simply "The Cult" in the original short story). They believe the world would be destroyed in a darkness with the appearance of Stars that unleash a torrent of fire. Beenay combines what he has learned about the repetitive collapses at the digsite, and the new theory with the potential of eclipses and concludes that once every 2049 years the one sun visible is eclipsed, resulting in a brief 'night'.

Since the population of Kalgash has never experienced universal darkness, the scientists conclude that the darkness itself would traumatize the people and prepare accordingly. When nightfall occurs, however, the scientists—who have prepared themselves for darkness—and the rest of the planet are most surprised by the sight of previously-invisible stars outside the six-star system filling the sky. Civil disorder breaks out; cities are destroyed in massive fires and civilization—as previously known—collapses. The final section of the book deals with the ashes of the fallen civilization and the competing groups trying to seize control. (This final part was not covered in the original short story.)
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Bmat » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:55 pm

I had never read the book, but the short story was one reason I became interested in SF. I remember being totally drawn in to the story and wishing that the cycle would not be repeated.
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Asimov's "Nightfall."

Postby Qray » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:18 pm

Published in 1991, the novel is an expansion of the short story by both Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg. You can pick up a copy for as little as $8.00 from Amazon.com if the ones in your local bookstores or used bookstores are too pricy. $7.20 from Barnes and Noble if you're a member there. Having read the short story back in the day, I found I enjoyed the novel just as much and highly recommend it to you.

There were also two movies made from the Nightfall story. One in 1988 and one in 2000. The 1988 movie deviated so much from the novel that Asimov took his name off the project. IMO, the 2000 movie wasn't much better.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Neurolanis » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:19 pm

Interesting idea. Very little difference from a Fantasy story, sounds like, but for the fact that science plays a part in the story telling.
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Look ma, I used the phrase "deus ex machina" in context!

Postby Qray » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:07 am

Not to beat a dead horse, but that's pretty much the crux of a good science fiction story. People have been beaten over the head with the idea that science fiction has to be choke full of technology and space ships. Or the technobabble and techno deus ex machina plot devices that are often seen in Star Trek. Or it needs to be a grand Space Opera, like Star Wars. It doesn't.

The science in the story could/should be a literary scalpel instead of a bludgen. Many of Asimov's robot books where filled with social commentary on racism and bigotry, but instead of having it directed towards a specific group of people, it was directed towards robots. Asimov used the robots to replace a current segment of society to talk about what was going on in society without it seeming like he was. It's not all that different from what Socrates and Plato used to do back in their day. Except when they wanted to comment on the society of the day and not get their heads lopped of, they invented stories out of the supposed "past" and not the future.

Not to say that stories of far off planets, and futuristic technology. or space operas aren't science fiction, or even good science fiction. I'm just saying that it's not neccessary to have these elements in a story for it to be science fiction.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby waytanblee » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:30 am

I think that fantasy would have a much larger fan base if it was prepped and ready for social comment. But it's not that easy (other than racism) to pose any deep sociological questions about whether to use magic or not. Of course we would use magic if we could. The thing about science fiction is that science can be so questionable, and has its roots firmly planted in our society on earth, which leaves head way for science bringing into play new alterations to our atmosphere and way of living, like in Aldous Huxleys brave new world. The only social comment that I see about to arise in fantasy deals mostly with synchronicity and the psychology of various illnesses, and magical alterations to these concepts. Of course, I am being biased.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Qray » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:16 pm

Well, the example of social commentary I used was just that, an example. A good story need not include social commentary. Asimov's robot series mainlywhere a bunch of mystery stories. I'm just saying you don't need a lot of technology or a futuristic setting to have a good science fiction story.

However, I agree with you in that the Fantasy genre could learn a bit from science fiction. It seems to me that a good majority of Fantasy stories are centered around the "grand story of adventure," much in the way that in regards to science ficiton, Star Wars is a type of space opera.

I think Fantasy could benefit from delving into other genres like mystery. The Finder's Stone Trilogy (Azure Bonds,The Wyvern's Spur, and Song of the Saurials,) by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb is essentially a mystery in a fantasy setting and it's a great read.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby waytanblee » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:42 pm

It's easier to get scared from a down to earth scifi than it is a fantasy. Read phillip k dick's Second Variety short story and you'll really see how disturbed you can get. Scifi has its finger on the pulse, posing questions that mean something to us. We don't understand science and are scared of it because of that. When scifi poses the question "Will AI be dangerous" we sit up and listen. And fantasy, we arn't scared of--besides the human flaw of violence. Fantasy is essentialy just a frloic around in inverted commas. Magic is devine in origin, and it's instinct to believe that it poses no threat. It's like the two sides in gunnerkrigg court. nature and science. But how will it be resolved? We are one? But, then again, you need classifications..

As far as cliche sci fi goes, It's natural for people to jump from watching startrek then jump on the bandwagon of "they're trekies" then to, in their mind, clasify all scifi as such till they're better educated. It seems to be some bacic instinctual idiosyncratic function of natural selection. So to, fantasy follows the lead of LOTR. Is there some mechanism in us that follows these idiosyncratic leads to strengthen good leads but immediately put to shame the bad ones? (ideosincracys are a personal tic for me, I really want to see what's at the base of that.)

As far as is scifi harder to write than fantasy? ech, I have no idea. They for me both have different voices that seem to arise as I write them. The hardest, I think, is just normal garden variety fiction!
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby spknoevl » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:14 am

I would have to agree. Both Sci-Fi and Fantasy draw the reader in as much with the worlds they build as the actual storyline. To write a novel set in modern times would probably be the hardest, as the story pretty much has to stand on it's own merits.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Neurolanis » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:03 pm

Fantasy should have much more social comment. The stories of the Realms of Fantasy magazine sometimes does this. I do it in mine. I believe professional writing should always be encouraging thought, debate or intrigue at the very least.
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Re: Is fantasy easier to write than science fiction?

Postby Quetzalcoatl93 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:02 pm

I dont think fantasy is easier to write really. I think its more the way of the times
Sci-fi requires a much different approach- in order for the sci-fi world to be believable, usually theres research involved. If you go around talking about hovercraft without explaining kinda how they are possible (how they work) then your reader loses interest.
With fantasy its the opposite, I think. The more out-there your work is the better people like it- as long as you can write okay.

Thats what I think anyway.

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