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  1. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Science fiction deliberately grounds its stories in science, not fantastical elements. Fantasy fiction deliberately uses elements that are not science. All fiction is made-up from the imagination, but what you make it up with tends to be the defining aspect. And fantasy and sf, while they have much in common by imagining a reality different from what exists, are fundamentally different from each other in how they imagine that reality to be.
    Well said!

    Quote Originally Posted by Daily Alice View Post
    If it can't happen--if it *won't* happen (except in dreams)--it's fantasy.
    Who's to say that it can't or won't happen? That's what sets Science Fiction apart from other genres, the possibilities. Fantasy worlds can be breathtakingly beautiful or soul numbingly dreary but regardless they aren't real, except for a brief moment in the readers mind.

    Science Fiction is all about the possibilities. 1984 has been classified as Science Fiction and is one of the most powerful English language novels of the past century. Its influence is so significant that it's part of our common culture.

    Many authors write or postulate about inventions or ideas that then inspire people to create them. The concept of moving walkways, so common in airports, were first written about in 1897 by H. G. Wells. Science Fiction can not only entertain people, it can also warn them of future dangers, explore complex issues, and inspire them.

    A far cry from Fantasy indeed.

  2. #47
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Boultbee View Post
    Science Fiction can not only entertain people, it can also warn them of future dangers, explore complex issues, and inspire them.

    A far cry from Fantasy indeed.
    Oh now see, we were buddies before you said that. Fantasy fiction can also warn people of future dangers, explore complex issues and inspire them. (I read both, you see.) In fact, one of the reasons that people often insist that the lines between fantasy and sf are blurry is because fantasy fiction is very good at social commentary and moral and ethics issues, and so is science fiction. Both types of fiction are able to make symbols into physical realities. You can do that with realistic fiction too, but with SFF, you can do it in really neat ways. But science fiction and fantasy take different tacks on how they do it.

  3. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Oh now see, we were buddies before you said that. Fantasy fiction can also warn people of future dangers, explore complex issues and inspire them. (I read both, you see.) In fact, one of the reasons that people often insist that the lines between fantasy and sf are blurry is because fantasy fiction is very good at social commentary and moral and ethics issues, and so is science fiction. Both types of fiction are able to make symbols into physical realities. You can do that with realistic fiction too, but with SFF, you can do it in really neat ways. But science fiction and fantasy take different tacks on how they do it.
    True but Fantasy doesn't seem real to a lot of people. Science Fiction is often, although not always, set in the real world, be it near future or far future. This can make it easier to relate to the consequences of an issue.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing Fantasy - I read it as well. Indeed many of my favorite authors write both (L.E. Modesitt, David Weber) and do a good job of exploring issues in both genres (hopefully this means we can still be buddies ).

    Still, when you get right down it any good story should be able to do all those things, as you said.

    But Science Fiction is NOT a subset of Fantasy. They are both very different, distinct, and robust genres that occasionally mix together.

  4. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
    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.
    This perception of fantasy goes a long way to explain why sf writers resist being identified with it. The bookshelves once dominated by science fiction are now groaning with fat fantasy series, many poor and derivative. I remember when Heinlein ruled and things were otherwise...

    So I see why most want a firm distinction between genres, but it's hard, hard to hold the line with so much borrowing going on.

    One problem I have is that, not being a hard science buff, I've encountered many books in which the "science" involved is sheer tokenism. Even the sf classics--The Time Machine and Frankenstein to take two--do not provide us with much in the way of tech. On the one hand a pretty Victorian machine; on the the other a hideous monster (although I don't think he was that bad looking in the book). These are great fables and justifiably called science fiction, but in my mind they can just as well qualify as fantasy in the broader sense.

    The issue is further complicated by what KatG (I think) pointed out: that fantasy is just as proficient in dealing with sociopolitical ideas, historical evolution, the "soft" science. Which are sciences too.

    I don't claim the last word or even a firm opinion on this subject. It fascinates me that this discussion has been going on since before I was born and will no doubt be argued during the apocolypse.

  5. #50
    the puppet master ArthurFrayn's Avatar
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    But Science Fiction is NOT a subset of Fantasy.
    Of course it is. Most if not all of the things that occur in genre SF even involving science, do not, and will not occur. I read primarily SF and have often little patience with what you're thinking of as fantasy, but I know that SF as part of it's primary function, deals with states of the world that do not exist. The fact that there is a rules of the game at the heart of the fiction format that is SF, involving speculative forecasting as it pertains to technology and future events,and that sometimes these things come to pass, does not change this.
    You're probably making the same distinction that I would make with regard to what could be called "epic fantasy" or "genre fantasy".I personally would agree with you that the goals of that fiction are largely different from SF.
    But I think it's a mistake to allow the word fantasy to be co-opted to mean exclusively: dragons, elves, sword and sorcery, etc.
    So I think you're making hay of a semantic distinction that is ultimately not worth the trouble.

    Otherwise you'll be required to play by your own rules; you'll have to start letting go of things that might very well never exist -aliens, ftl travel, and then retroactively label genre SF up to that point fantasy. If you start playing that game you'll run into trouble pretty fast.
    Last edited by ArthurFrayn; November 13th, 2007 at 11:56 PM.

  6. #51
    But I think it's a mistake to allow the word fantasy to be co-opted to mean exclusively: dragons, elves, sword and sorcery, etc.
    Hmm, I would argue that you are co-opting the word to mean 'fiction', and there's already a word for that - fiction.

    I just can't see labeling a book about a manned mission to Mars as fantasy. That doesn't seem to fit the spirit or use of the word 'fantasy' to me.

  7. #52
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    By and large the distinction between fantasy and sf for me is related to the way the book, characters... look at life; if it's a premodern miraculous based worldview with singular non-repeatable events, things, beings, it's fantasy.

    If the worldview is modern or postmodern, science based (however improbable the science) it's sf.

    This is why for example the Cold Fire trilogy by CS Friedman is pure fantasy and the New Sun cycle by G. Wolfe is borderline sf, while the Long Sun cycle is pure sf in my opinion.

    Anyway, if a book is interesting, I could not care less for its label, so while overall I like space operas and avoid vampire books, I am currently reading New Amsterdam by E. Bear which has a vampire as a main character...

  8. #53
    the puppet master ArthurFrayn's Avatar
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    I just can't see labeling a book about a manned mission to Mars as fantasy. That doesn't seem to fit the spirit or use of the word 'fantasy' to me.
    Well, I guess it's just a question of perspective, because this is totally meaningless to me.Fitting the spririt has nothing to do with "is"/"is not" as far as I'm concerned.

    I understand your point about fiction of course.But general fiction despite the fact that it is that, strives to describe actual states of the world, whether or not it takes into account a psychological landscape as well.
    Last edited by ArthurFrayn; November 14th, 2007 at 12:00 AM.

  9. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by ArthurFrayn View Post
    But I think it's a mistake to allow the word fantasy to be co-opted to mean exclusively: dragons, elves, sword and sorcery, etc.
    This line rings very true to me. Fantasy is a huge and obviously difficult to define term that takes in far more than the easily recognizable stuff produced by the heirs of Tolkien. (Not that some sword-and-sorcery stuff is not very fine. I consider Wolfe's Book of the New Sun a masterpiece.)

    There's even the psychologist's use of "fantasy", which is all about sex. But we'd better not go there.

    There's urban fantasy, or New Weird. There's Richard Grant, Jonathan Carroll, John Crowley, Elizabeth Hand. There's a lot of stuff without elves.

    It's such an amorphous term that I really think it can take in what everyone would agree is science fiction. Or maybe I just think that because modern science is so mentally challenging. (Talk about the New Weird.) After reading Harrison's Light, I admit that quantum physics *feels* pretty much like magic.

  10. #55
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I find a lot of the debate about science fiction and fantasy definitions tends to be an attempt to categorize all SF or all fantasy as a certain type of story that offers specific themes, as a philosophy of story-telling, instead of by the content of the stories -- what the authors put in them. But the problem with this is that SF stories and fantasy stories don't accomodate this idea. SF stories are not all about the same thing and themes, and fantasy stories are not all about the same thing and themes either. Not all fantasy stories have elves or are about characters. Not all SF stories are about "ideas" or the physics of space travel.

    A sub-set discussion seems to be when science can actually be considered science. If the science is unlikely to happen in the future or the scientific theory seems radical and extreme even if it's part of the scientific debate, or if the science is not sufficiently detailed or explained, etc., people seem to want to disallow it as science content. But the fact is, the author put the science in the story. And didn't put anything fantastical in there that is not based on science or science theory.

    Which actually clears some things up for me. The debate really isn't about what's science fiction versus what's fantasy. In fact, most fantasy fans are happy to claim it all as fantasy, even stories that are completely realistic with no fantasy or SF elements.

    It's about what can be called science fiction. Maybe this reflects our conflicted views about science, I don't know. But it seems like SF is always trying to define itself. Which is very science-y, if you think about it.

  11. #56
    Galactic Mercenary Halcyon Dayz's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Speculative Fiction

    Science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, alternate history, and magic realism are all subsets of speculative fiction.

    They all have their own rules, styles, subject matter, and sub-genres, but there are a lot of crossovers.

    What they all have in common is the What If? approach.

  12. #57
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halcyon Dayz View Post
    Science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, alternate history, and magic realism are all subsets of speculative fiction.
    I was about to type this very thing out in caps! hahaha.

  13. #58
    Yeah, that's a pretty good rundown. Speculative fiction covers it. There used to be a drive for the term "speculative fabulation", but it didn't catch on.

  14. #59
    Registered User JunkMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mice9 View Post
    I agree that was an excellent scene. If I was to choose something that could beat Star Wars cinematically, I'd have to go with the movie "Serenity" directed by Joss Whedon. The Television series "Firefly" was a bit cheesy at times, a strange concept of combining a science fiction show with the wild west, but still entertaining. The movie Serenity based on that series had virtually none of that old west nonsense in it, and is one of the best science fiction movies I've seen. Pure science fiction though. Not fantasy.
    Just watched the first two episodes of Firefly - erm -does it get any better?

  15. #60
    Mice9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
    Just watched the first two episodes of Firefly - erm -does it get any better?
    Hey Buddy! Well - erm - if you read the post carefully, I wasn't extolling the virtues of the "Firefly" series, I was recommending the movie "Serenity" which is composed of the same elements, but is IMHO far better than the series. Chances are, if you don't like westerns, you won't like the Firefly series, and even if you do like westerns, and SF, you might not like the way they combined them. That said, it won't hurt that you've seen a few episodes of Firefly when you rent "Serenity". You will be familiar with the crew, and the universe they're in. The western stuff is not in the movie, only the series did that. There was one Firefly episode I thought was rather entertaining - the captain was tricked and ended up naked in the middle of a desert. It starts out with him getting drunk and waking up to find out that he is now married. I won't tell you anymore in case you end up watching it. Let me know your opinion of "Serenity" when you get a chance.

    - 9.
    Last edited by Mice9; November 26th, 2007 at 02:57 PM.

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