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September 1st, 2003, 10:01 AM
Well, I guess we can take your word over that of folks like Tom Shippey, John Clute, Brian Aldiss, Gary K. Wolfe and Thomas Disch...
Yes. After all, science fiction is really only a sub-genre of fantasy.

September 1st, 2003, 10:12 AM
Originally posted by Sirand

Yes. After all, science fiction is really only a sub-genre of fantasy.

I think a movement's been started.

September 1st, 2003, 10:55 AM
It's really quite obvious...

Anyway, regardless of what I said just before, Frankenstein is fantasy.

September 1st, 2003, 12:57 PM

September 1st, 2003, 01:30 PM
Well we've sort of gone off topic here, but okay, here's my question: why, if it doesn't matter what we call it, is it a problem to call "Frankenstein" science fiction? :)

"Frankenstein" is considered one of the earliest sf novels because the premise was not that Dr. Frankenstein animated his creature by doing a voodoo spell (fantasy,) but by a scientific experiment using electricity. It is indeed a parable, but it's a parable about science, that the exploration of science can lead humanity down dark roads, a theme that is frequently explored in science fiction.

"Frankenstein" certainly is not like the hard science fiction of today because the science fiction genre didn't exist during Shelley's time. It would not be established until around the 1920's, when the first pulp magazines were published. But we usually accept that there were writers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, who were writing science fiction stories before the official genre actually existed. Shelley was not a scientist, but she was writing about science in a time when science was not very well understood even by those who practiced it. Her tale was Gothic in style, in the fashion of the time, and she touches on issues of spirituality, but Gothic is not synonymous with fantasy.

If you asked most people what type of fiction "Frankenstein" is, they'd likely say horror. The book is one of the most enduring horror tales, in fact. But because the horror came from science, and not from the supernatural, sf claims "Frankenstein" as one of its ancestors. Yet neither horror nor science fiction really get to own "Frankenstein." The book is considered literature and is placed in the classics section of the bookstore.

Which brings up another question, maybe more relevant to the thread topic: Tolkein and similar work paved the way for the creation of the modern fantasy genre. This opened up new opportunities for lots of writers. But did the establishment of the modern fantasy genre also do those writers in and make it difficult for them to be taken seriously? Did the creation of an official genre marginalize and ghetto-ize fantasy fiction, causing it to be seen as trash fiction? Did the fact of the science fiction publishers putting out the paperback versions of Tolkein and then following through with other fantasy works, cause fantasy fiction to be taken out of mainstream literature, where it had previously been, and into a category whose audience was, at that time, mainly young males? Did Tolkein and the other early lights of modern fantasy, unwittingly, cause fantasy fiction to lose respect, accolades and money?

Or...did the creation of a modern fantasy genre give the opportunity for a juggernaut of fantasy fiction that is slowly gaining larger influence than individual fantasy writers could have gained on their own?

(As long as we're getting academic, I figured we'd go for broke.) :)

September 1st, 2003, 01:49 PM
I think the problem lies int eh fact that Sci-Fi (Yes I will use this term) people have tried to distance themselves from fantasy for the sake credibilty, even though the fall under the auspices of fantasy. Science Fiction falls under the auspices of speculative fantasy,as there is no way in which to substantiate the sredibility of the subject. I know some will use the future to determine what genre envolopes what, and thorugh the work of these pigeon-holers, Frankenstien would then be termed as fantasy as it cannot in all possibly occur. I do believe this thread of science is called thaumaturgy, Mievilles big 'scientific' justification, and in all probability cannot occur.

So how do we define SCience fiction? Is it by the purely mathmatical basis of probabilty? Or is through the fantastical belief system? I think sci-fi (yes that term again) is just used by those who derive a certain amount of pretentious justification that they are better than how fantasy is percieved. see Terry Goodkind. (Trying to sell his books as philosophical texts rather than the fantastical novels that they actually are, purely through the self-belief that fantasy is a belittling genre.)

September 1st, 2003, 03:09 PM
I don't think the whole sci-fi tag is pretentious. The things that I read that I consider Sci-fi are vastly different in my mind than the things I read that are fantasy. And I like them both, so I'm not trying to make any sort of justification. I would disagree with placing the sci-fi novels into a fantasy category. Speculative fiction, yes, but i think they each share a part of that larger group.

I generally consider science fiction as being some extrapolation of potential futures of our society.

Fantasy to me is either not taking place in this universe (within a reasonable degree) or taking place in our world, both with obviously magical or fantastic elements, a la Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Johnathan Carroll, and various others.

September 1st, 2003, 03:43 PM
Originally posted by Erfael

I generally consider science fiction as being some extrapolation of potential futures of our society.

Terry Brooks put his Shannara series in a post-apopalyptic world. Here the dormant 'magics' come into play. What is it? Whats the difference between a science that hasn't't been performed and magic? Is it probabilty?

Nano-bots v Miracles. (see Mieville)
Cross-overs v delusions (See Thomas Covenant.)

The great Aik Haw told us that Eriksons 'magic' was based on theories found in teh realms of physics. Does this make is Sci-fi?

What is the difference between Fantasy and speculative fiction?

September 1st, 2003, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by Kegasaurus(throughout this post):
What is the difference between Fantasy and speculative fiction?

I don't think there's any difference here. I think Fantasy is a sub-category of speculative fiction, as is science fiction.

I think the main difference between the two sides of Speculative Fiction is largely in the area of perception and probability. And I agree that some works ride the line between the two very closely.

Nano-bots v Miracles.

I often use this example in my own thinking. I consider the nanobots to be sci-fi and the miracles to be fantasy.

The great Aik Haw told us that Eriksons 'magic' was based on theories found in teh realms of physics. Does this make is Sci-fi?

I don't know these books at all yet, but for me it would be in the perception of the characters in the book. They're based on our physics, but in the world he created, is it within reason that the characters will understand how the magic works on a scientific level? Or is it a complete mystery to them?

Really, even today, understanding is what draws the line between the mysterious and the mundane. I think that sci-fi and fantasy are simply two ends to the continuum, one side being that which is understood or likely to be, the other being that which is unexplained and will likely remain so. I don't think it's safe to say that one is part of the other, but that they're each more specific apects of the same general category.

September 1st, 2003, 06:13 PM
We're getting into genres here, which is fascinating. There are fundamental problems with genre labels, though they are used for all sorts of mundane reasons. There is an argument that says 'does it matter?'

If you look up in the Archives it has been debated before - so too subgenres such as 'hard' and 'soft' Sf.

The term 'speculative fiction' (used a lot around the forums) would cover both aspects and more besides, including those works that transcend genres. As we are likely to get bogged down with the labels this might be a better one to use though it is more of a mouthful! Try and persuade the masses though. :)