Science Fiction AND Fantasy

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Loftlore, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. Loftlore

    Loftlore Loftlord of Loftlore

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    Question. Who out there has read a work or a series of works that combines Science Fiction and Fantasy? You'd think that such a marriage would be common and easy. It is not common and it is not easy.
    Loftlore (the trilogy - an unpublished something I wrote) works the two genres together. Who knows if I did it well. Few have read the Loftlore trilogy.
    I can think of but one series that did it well. Does anyone remember the Darkover series? Fantastic... till the author let the fans do her writing for her.

    Anyway, SF and Fantasy. Where have y'all seen it work as a team?
     
  2. Farm Ur-Ted

    Farm Ur-Ted Registered User

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    I'm reading Perdido Street Station (Mieville) now, and it's a nice combination of the two.
     
  3. Michigan

    Michigan Registered User

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    Anne Mcafferys Pern books, it has dragons in it yet is set in the future on an alien planet.
     
  4. Loftlore

    Loftlore Loftlord of Loftlore

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    Ann

    Oh, an outstanding example and one I completely forgot! Nice point! I've read and loved the Pern dragonrider series!
     
  5. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Well, for me, there's no such thing as a combination of sf and fantasy. There are fantasy stories that contain sf elements, and there are sf stories that resemble fantasy stories but aren't fantasy. Mieville's Perdido St. Station is the former and McCaffrey's Pern books are the latter.

    If you want fantasy stories that give a sf-flavor, then I think Jeff VanderMeer and Hal Duncan have been fairly recommended as doing that. If you want fantasy-like sf, in addition to several series by McCaffrey, there's C.S. Friedman's work, C.J. Cherryh's Riders at the Gate series, Gayle Greene's Ghatto series, and Gene Wolfe's New and Ur-Sun series. And a lot of fantasy fans like Tad Williams' Otherworld series, even though it is technically sf, because Williams is better known for his fantasy works.

    There are a lot of authors who write both sf and fantasy, so you're bound to find something you like.
     
  6. ArthurFrayn

    ArthurFrayn the puppet master

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    Yeah, I dare anyone to outline one science element in Perdido Street Station that would lean it in the direction of SF.
    As I see it, their isn't any.
    It's alllllll boolah boolah. Every drop. It's a fantasy book.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2007
  7. cougs

    cougs I like spaceships

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    Stephen King's Dark Tower series might be something you would be interested in. Has Fantasy(contemporary), Sci-Fi, and Western elements.

    Frank Herbert's Dune series, while being science fiction, often times "felt" like fantasy books(characterization, world building, plot resembled an epic fantasy).

    I've seen Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber categorized as both. I've read the first few books and they feel like fantasy, but they might take a more sci-fi turn later on, but i'm not sure.
     
  8. David Boultbee

    David Boultbee Registered User

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    What about Piers Anthony's INCARNATIONS OF IMMORTALITY series? Or his THE APPRENTICE ADEPT series? I actually think that he does this in a lot of his books but these are the series that I've read.
     
  9. Severn

    Severn boss of several cats...

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    Liz Williams writes a few: The Poison Master and Empire of Bones are the ones I have. I didn't care for them overly much, but they do seem to successfully share elements of both.

    Also, there's A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, which I haven't read yet, but have heard it classified as such. It's in the Masterworks series, so it must be good eh? Heh.
     
  10. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    The Incarnations of Immortality series is a fantasy series and doesn't really have much in the way of sf elements. It does have a contemporary setting though. For me, the first three books were quite good, the rest of the series petered out. The Apprentice Adept series is an alternate realm fantasy series, but it features two parallel worlds, one run by magic and the other run by science, so that is in the fantasy with sf elements group and might be of interest. They are much like the author's fantasy Xanth books in style and tone.

    Also, Alan Dean Foster, who does both sf and fantasy, has several sf series that are fantasy-like.
     
  11. cgw

    cgw Registered User

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    They don't. They jump into our world now and again but there is nothing I would call scifi.
    On the other hand try the following by Zelazny:

    Lord of Light
    Isle of the Dead
    Changeling
    Creatures of Light and Darkness (far future fantasy)
     
  12. Mara-Marie

    Mara-Marie Too many thoughts!!!!

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    you should put it in a new tread in incraments so you'd have more people read it. whats it about?
     
  13. manephelien

    manephelien Gryffindor Gal

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    Yeah, I agree with KatG; sci-fi can resemble fantasy and fantasy can contain sci-fi elements, but you don't get a mix. However, I'd argue that Pern is fantasy with sci-fi elements rather than the reverse, given that Pernese science is never properly explained and Anne herself writes as she goes along, and sometimes has been known to write herself into a corner nothing but conflicts with previously-written stories will get her out of. However, she'd bite your head off if you called her a fantasy writer, for some reason she thinks the sci-fi label has more prestige. Go figure...

    The most famous example of fantasy masquerading as sci-fi has to be Star Wars, even if it's in a different medium.
     
  14. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Because she is not working with fantasy elements. Her Pern novels are about a devolved society of planetary settlers due to environmental disasters, whose descendents have forgotten but rediscover their origins over the course of the books. In that way, it rather resembles Gene Wolfe's Sun series. But the science is there, the dragons are genetically engineered and nothing in the books is a fantastical element. They're sf.

    Sci-fi -- television and film -- is a different kettle of fish from written fiction, though the same division more or less applies, but consistency tends to go out the window in sci-fi. Star Wars likes to skate on the edge, as does Dune, but both are sf.

    Again, these are just my opinions. SF constantly seeks to re-define itself. I've sat through folk passionately decrying cyberpunk as totally not sf and a threat that was going to turn the whole genre into fantasy, only now to see it classified as hard sf. I've watched an author be declared a sf genius by some and declared a total sf poser by others.

    For me, again, if they stick to science, it's sf and if they throw in the magical, divine or supernatural, it's fantasy. Prophecy and telepathy that are given a science cause are sf, otherwise fantasy. Dragons that are genetically engineered are sf, vampires who are aliens from another planet are sf, time travel that is conducted by a machine or similar device is sf, an alternate history or world whose existence is credited to quantum physics is sf, and so on. Since I read both genres, it's not a big issue for me which way an author decides to go, but I see them as two separate genres.

    Kit Whitfield's supernatural fantasy series, starting with Benighted, about an alternate contemporary Earth made up mostly of werewolves, might have some sf overtones and so might be of interest. Dan Simmons' Hyperion series is sf, but some fantasy fans like it quite a lot.
     
  15. manephelien

    manephelien Gryffindor Gal

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    Obviously some fantasy is written so that it's internally totally consistent and obeys its own laws to the letter (say, Tolkien). I tend to see Pern more as fantasy because the science was never very rigorously planned out, just tacked on because she didn't want to be labeled as a fantasy author for some bizarre reason. If we're really picking nits, however, Anne McCaffrey writes romances in a sf:ish setting. Just having dragons doesn't make it fantasy, I agree with you so far. However, the lack of a rigorous treatment of science (even in DragonsDawn when they still knew it, or the post-AIVAS novels) makes me hesitate to call it science-fiction.

    However, I see the Talent novels as sf rather than fantasy, because there she at least tries to give a scientific explanation into how telepathic and telekinetic powers might work.
     
  16. Mice9

    Mice9 Guest

    Recent thread

    Some of you might remember this recent discussion - as some of you were involved.

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17652

    One of our members (Tony Williams) stated "You are tempting me to contemplate writing a story in which there is a scientific basis for magic (perhaps by quantum interaction with a parallel world), which will then presumably be SF."

    I dared him to do it, but I don't think he ever went back to that thread... I never heard back from him. :D

    It seems as if people feel that one of the main differences are that if the "science" involved is explained - even though it's all conjecture - that somehow that qualifies it as Science Fiction. I'm not so sure about that. But then, just because a scientific explanation was given for "magic" I'm not sure that would successfully mix science fiction and fantasy either.

    From the Dictionary -
    Science Fiction: A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.

    From Wiki:
    Fantasy Literature is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. The genre is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by overall look, feel, and theme of the individual work, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (collectively known as speculative fiction).

    I don't know why it would not be possible to combine them other than the limitations of our own definitions, or even pre-conceptions about the two. Presumably the difficulty comes in because it will always be a "mix" and just a question of what percent of it is Science Fiction, and what percent of it is Fantasy.

    -9.
     
  17. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    In many ways, I think some people on this thread are really arguing semantics when most everyone who discusses this topic doesn't care about semantics.

    Is it really difficult to understand what someone means when they say they want a book that combines science fiction and fantasy? A guy with a laser rifle is disarmed by someone casting a spell - boom, done. It combines fantasy and science fiction. PSS is exactly this - almost all of the fantastic creatures and items are presented by the author as science, but there is also a branch of research called 'thurmaturgy' or something, which is magic.

    Sure, it may be fun to argue ad infinitum whether that is a 'combination of science fiction and fantasy', 'fantasy with sci fi elements' or 'scifi with fantasy elements', but ultimately what is the difference?
     
  18. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    No, phil, it's not so hard to figure out what people are after, which is why I've made suggestions. But it does make a difference, for me, what an author's intent is, as I've explained in previous discussions. If an author puts in fantasy elements, then they've deliberately created a fantasy story and they've prevented themselves from having a science fiction novel because science fiction novels do not have fantasy elements. To say that they are the same is to ignore what authors are attempting to do and what the story is about, in my opinion only. That an author choses fantasy or sf means something to me. I see the two genres as related opposites, so it is not purely semantics for me.

    It may also effect someone's reading experience of the book, whether it's not a "real" fantasy or not. But another reason I do semantics is that these particular semantics are used as weapons. If it's said that a sf novel isn't "real" sf but just a fantasy posing as sf, it means that it's sub-standard to actual sf. If it is said that a fantasy novel that uses sf-like elements is a blend of fantasy and sf, not just plain old fantasy, then it means that the novel is superior to regular fantasy. The idea of blending becomes a way to attack a novel or give it extra status. Therefore, I'm not about to say that a novel is a blend of sf and fantasy when first, I don't believe that to be the case, and second, it can be used to denigrate or elevate a novel as a label.

    For example, the labelling of McCaffrey's Pern books as romances. McCaffrey has written non-SFF romances, but the Pern books are not romances, some of them are YA, and anyone reading them just for romance would likely be disappointed. There are romantic sub-plots, but there are romantic sub-plots in just about every sf and fantasy novel ever written. I have noticed that women SFF writers tend to get called romantic writers, no matter how much gore and violence they may have in their stories, whereas male writers can have passionate, drippy romances in their stories and they'll be seen as purely gore and violence writers. McCaffrey is more romantic and cuddly than most and her telepath series is definitely romantic, but the Pern books have a much broader focus, in my view.

    Whether it's fantasy or sf may not matter much to the original poster, as that person asked for blends. But it matters to me, and so I'm going to approach it in that way and force no one to do so with me. :)
     
  19. JunkMonkey

    JunkMonkey Registered User

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    I'm no great Fantasy reader, there are just so many quests and elves a grown man can stand but occasionally I have come across stories usually by established SF authors dipping their toe into the fantasy world who bridge both by bringing with them a logic and rationality that seems so often to be missing from the endless riding around, hacking orcs to bits, and singing in italics that bore the pants off me in three volume fantasy worlds.

    Having said that the only one that springs to mind is Larry Niven's What Good Is a Glass Dagger? which treats magic as an exhaustible natural resource and then plays with the ideas that follow on from that. A basic SF What if...? approach used in a fantasy milieu.
     
  20. Mice9

    Mice9 Guest

    Sounds a little like the use of "The Force" in Star Wars.

    :cool: