Science Fiction vs Fantasy

I heard the greatest description the other day, as to how to tell these two genres apart.

The difference between a Fantasy story and a Science Fiction story is if you removed the science part the story in Science Fiction the story would cease to exist. (Think Frankenstein.)

Some people even consider Space Opera’s to be Fantasy because you could replace the space ships for horses and the laser guns for swords and still have the same story. It’s an interesting thought isn’t it?

I have recently put my story “Gift of Talismans” into the Fantasy genre (with a Science Fiction twist). I did this because all the things in my story that are Science Fiction in nature could be replaced with something else and the story would still be essentially the same. I hope I did the right thing.

I’m just waiting to hear back from readers on that story. After editing this weekend, the story ended up at 15,671 words. Not bad if you ask me.

The rest of this week will be low on word count. Lunches, and parties, and shopping, oh my. I’ll be lucky if I get any new words down. On the plus side, after this weekend I have a full week off for the Holiday break. Any bets on what my word count will be then?

9 shopping days left. Who’s still on your list?

4 Responses to Science Fiction vs Fantasy

  1. Cosmic Sensorium December 29, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    This is a very interesting distinction! nonetheless, I'm wondering, in the space opera example.. aren't swords and the domestication of horses somehow a product of technologically-applied, systematic knowledge (e.g., to some extent, science)? Also, sometimes I like to think of science (both science in a broad, inclusive sense, and science in terms of positivism and empiricism) as the cumulative achievement of a specific type of segmented fantasies… In positivism, this specific type has to do with thinking that everything can be understood in terms of intellect, and that humans can predict and control anything if it is sufficiently studied and understood…

    Fantasy, of course, surpasses science. But I think that a lot of the things that seem normal and scientific to some groups of people seem rather fantastic to others… think pyramids, spaceships, telepathy, splitting the atom, precognitive knowledge…

  2. Tina Hunter December 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    Wow. Great comment. Thank you for actually taking the time to think about it.

    When you put it like that, I'd have to agree with you. To some extent science has to be involved in most stories considered fantasy. I like to think you have to know the rules (science) you are breaking before you can break them in fantasy (like: How do dragons fly? Answer could be huge wing span that supports its body mass, or magically defies gravity). If you don't know why things work in fantasy, by applying a scientific thought processes to them, they probably won't make sense to the reader… even if you never mention the “why”.

    Still, publishers have to draw a line somewhere or everything would be either science fiction or fantasy.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. Cosmic Sensorium December 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    Yes, I totally see your point.. that is one of the main things that words do, after all! draw lines between this and that and give us a way to refer to ourselves and what we experience. Not having words to describe our experiences, or the existence of something, is really a tough situation… how do you explain it? how do you think about it? how do you even remember it? you can speak of noisy silver birds and bleeding sticks if lacking the words “airplane” and “pen”…

    Part of my interest in visual art lies precisely in this – wanting to express things I have no words for. To some extent, I think fantasy can do this too. The way I see it, fantasy brings the unknown a lot closer – for it begins to take shape, and when it's in writing, it begins to take names. and i guess scifi somehow takes fantasy into the realm of the plausible given X and Y that we already take as granted. I think that in some cases, science draws both fantasy and sci fi … and finds a way to make it happen. I really want to read the “Gift of Talismans” and see how you give fantasy a sci fi twist!

    Best,
    D

  4. drd57 June 12, 2009 at 5:29 am #

    i'm inclined to agree with you about fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

    i happen to be a fan of all 3 catagories and enjoy watching them on tv whether it be a dvd or something that happens to be on the tube. i must say they are my favorite kinds of movies.

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