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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default SCi-Fi vs Fantasy: What is the point?

    With time I've increasingly come to question the entire nature and purpose of the separation of the genres Sci-Fi and Fantasy. They do not seem to be differentiated by definitions so much as nebulous collection of conventions. Furthermore, it seems like almost anything that is considered one could easily be considered the other, and the key elements that make a person decide which a story is often strike me as trivial and superficial. Yet, once a person has decided which of the two genres a story is, it seems to dramatically change their expectations particularly in the sense that people suspend much less disbelief for Sci-Fi than they do for Fantasy. In my own opinion, the way people judge stories based on these genres can strike me as unfair (for example, a story which I figure might just as well be considered Fantasy is considered Sci-Fi, and suddenly treated much more harshly for obvious unscientific events).

    What do you, dear reader, consider the difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy as genres, and what purpose do you think this distinction serves?
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  2. #2
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    Would you consider The Lord of the Rings "science fiction"?

  3. #3
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Code:
    Science Ficton:
            Alternate version of reality based on made-up science. Sometimes, the made up science is very very close to real science, 
                      which gives us hard science fiction. 
            The setting has some degree of technological sophistication that is higher than that of the society in which the author lived. .
    Fantasy:
    Alternate version of reality based on magic.
    The setting is often less technologically sophisticated than the society in which the author lived, but the use of magic allows for things that are not possible in our world.


    I can think of at least one famous example that is both, one with a high degree of technological sophistcation and magic.

    Of course, you can create "scientific" explanations for things that might also be considered magic. For all intents and purposes, the X-men use magic, but it's described as being based on a "mutation". Or for, instance, give people telepathic powers, and then say that it's not because they've tapped into magic, but orgone energy.

    Additionally, it's unclear where steampunk fits in this.
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  4. #4
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    I see sci-fi as a subcategory of fantasy, in which science plays a big role and where the focus lies on adhering to universal laws.

    Here's an interesting question though. Steampunk, sci-fi or fantasy? I can never make up my mind on that one. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Additionally, it's unclear where steampunk fits in this.
    Seriously, I did not read your post before making my own post. Funny stuff. :P
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  5. #5
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    Science Fiction is writing of things that have not yet come true. Fantasy is writing of things that never will.


    (didn't read OP, fyi)

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    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superunknown View Post
    Science Fiction is writing of things that have not yet come true.
    Science fiction writers aren't prophets. :P
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffywolf View Post
    Science fiction writers aren't prophets. :P

    They damn sure try.

  8. #8
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Would you consider The Lord of the Rings "science fiction"?
    I would recognize it as Fantasy right away, but that's because of clothing, weapons, and buildings. I frankly find that a bit superficial for making an important distinction in genre.

    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Code:
    Science Ficton:
            Alternate version of reality based on made-up science. Sometimes, the made up science is very very close to real science, 
                      which gives us hard science fiction. 
            The setting has some degree of technological sophistication that is higher than that of the society in which the author lived. .
    Fantasy:
    Alternate version of reality based on magic.
    The setting is often less technologically sophisticated than the society in which the author lived, but the use of magic allows for things that are not possible in our world.


    I can think of at least one famous example that is both, one with a high degree of technological sophistcation and magic.

    Of course, you can create "scientific" explanations for things that might also be considered magic. For all intents and purposes, the X-men use magic, but it's described as being based on a "mutation". Or for, instance, give people telepathic powers, and then say that it's not because they've tapped into magic, but orgone energy.

    Additionally, it's unclear where steampunk fits in this.
    One must think of Arthur C. Clarke's popular statement that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. An interesting consideration is that the technology of 1900 a.d. would probably have been advanced enough to seem like magic to someone from 0500 a.d.. My gripe with hard science fiction is that it really just have a particularly elaborate verisimilitude backing something that is ultimately just as unreal as a wizard conjuring a fireball or a dragon. If any piece of science fiction actually gave a complete and accurate discrimination of a functional technology, then that technology would be real and we'd be using it. So it's really just a question how much of the story's words are spent on fabricating the illusion of realism for the events that take place. And I think you could do this for fantasy anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by superunknown View Post
    Science Fiction is writing of things that have not yet come true. Fantasy is writing of things that never will.


    (didn't read OP, fyi)
    I disagree with this. Is a man unleashing fire something that will never happen? We have flamethrowers now. Do you protest that a flamethrower does not work the same way as a magic spell? Well, the technologies we have that emulate those previously described in Sci-Fi works never work the same way either.
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  9. #9
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    There are things that are definitely Science Fiction, and there are things that are definitely Fantasy, and then there is grey area. Science Fiction is about exploring possibilities, the variables involved are technological and environmental and they're always plausible in the mind of the writer at the time of publication.

    Fantasy is about creating new myth, plausibility be damned.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I would recognize [The Lord of the Rings] as Fantasy right away,



    Feel free to needlessly complicate it all you like.

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