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Scifi and Fantasy: Where do we draw the line?

Violanthe

New Member
These two genres share so many commonalities, but also represent important distinctions for their main audiences. What do you think? What are the differences between these two genres? What are the key factors that set them apart from each other? What are the crucial elements that allow us to distinguish one from the other?
 

leckert

New Member
Violanthe said:
These two genres share so many commonalities, but also represent important distinctions for their main audiences. What do you think? What are the differences between these two genres? What are the key factors that set them apart from each other? What are the crucial elements that allow us to distinguish one from the other?

SirMyk would probably have a better answer for this, but...

I would describe Horror as anything that makes you consider natural, or supernatural, things in an unnatural way. A story which makes the mundane become surreal. Something that wakes in the reader some primal, possibly forgotten, fear.

Science Fiction could do any or all of these things. I think Science Fiction could be any fiction set in a different time, a different place, or with a different set of natural laws.
 

Ice

New Member
leckert said:
SirMyk would probably have a better answer for this, but...

I would describe Horror as anything that makes you consider natural, or supernatural, things in an unnatural way. A story which makes the mundane become surreal. Something that wakes in the reader some primal, possibly forgotten, fear.
The two genres being compared are Sci-Fi and Fantasy :) Horror, I feel, is a completely separate genre but Sci-Fi and Fantasy can overlap to a degree.

As for the differences between the two. I would say that Sci-Fi gives somewhat of a scientific explanation for the occurings and is based on scientific findings, where as Fantasy tends to leave the origins up to your imagination and is based largely around myths/legends. Sci-Fi tends to be set either in the present or the future, where as fantasy is traditionally set in the past (ie Tolkien's Middle Earth). Sci-Fi also tends to revolve around technology as oppose to Fantasy which is largely based on magic.
 

Jenem

kickbox
to me, sci-fi is about space travel, or anything that encompasses technological (scientific) developments or regression. fantasy is about the past (usually) and contains elements of myth, ie. dragons etc. the main difference is that one story is based on science and the other on myth.

sure, there are stories that don't fall perfectly into either category, but that's true of most genres
 

Oberon

New Member
Magic could be considered a technology--the real genre difference is basis in scientific fact and principles, in terms of world-building, technologies, and even in lifeforms. The SF author usually hangs his premises for every aspect of his story on scientific theories, whereas the fantasy author either constructs her own "science" or works with mythologies of one sort or another. If an elf was a character in an SF story, there would be a plausible theory underlying its "elf-ness" ...
 

Twilite

Member
I'd say Sci-Fi consisted of anything that is theorically possible but we don't yet have the technology/knowledge to do, like space travel or interact with species of other worlds. For this to be believeable the author needs to build on things that are accepted as possible to guide the reader to believing the proposed situation.
Fantasy on the other hand is based upon things that aren't possible according to our physical laws, and need to explanation, but are taken as written, and perhaps by definition are things that cannot be explained but that isn't an issue to the reader.

Perhaps the line blurs when Sci-Fi goes into another universe where my fantasy rules would apply. I tried!
 

KristoCat

New Member
Another general difference between SciFi and fantasy is that in sci fi, there are very few black-and-white distinctions. Moral questions are wrestled with and often not resolved. Characters are very multifaceted too. And in fantasy, it's often a question of good vs. evil, where characters and situations have a lot of polarity to them.

Fantasy also tends to have a happy, resolved ending, whereas scifi doesn't necessarily resolve or conclude happily.
 

sirmyk

New Member
leckert said:
SirMyk would probably have a better answer for this, but...
...he writes neither science fiction nor fantasy. :cool:

Science Fiction: could technically happen, no matter how rediculous or farfetched the idea may be (Crichton, Sagan, etc.)

vs.

Fantasy: could never technically happen, because of how rediculous or farfetched the idea may be (Tolkein, Rowling, etc.)

Most in these genres are borderline, or cross borders quite often.
 

Oberon

New Member
MonkeyCatcher said:
I don't believe that it could. Magic is to do with forces and such to do with the super-natural and technology is in no way supernatural.
What I meant by "technology" here is that there is a consistency to the way magic works: a wand is brandished, words spoken, bim badda boom. The "technology" of how mirrors were built and used magically was a very palpable aspect to Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant series. You have not, perhaps, read enough bad fantasy to appreciate the need for some consistency to the way magic works in good fantasy ... that's all I meant by technology in relation to magic.
 

Zolipara

New Member
MonkeyCatcher said:
I don't believe that it could. Magic is to do with forces and such to do with the super-natural and technology is in no way supernatural.

If you dont explain the technical aspects, future technology could easily be seen as magic.
 

MonkeyCatcher

New Member
Zolipara said:
If you dont explain the technical aspects, future technology could easily be seen as magic.
I don't think that it could. Magic is more of an ability displayed by a person (or other living organism) rather than a machine. It really depends on in what way you are using the term magic. I am merely using it in the meaning of some super-natural ability possessed by a living organism, not some machine.
 

Zolipara

New Member
You could write a story from the pov of a more primitive man encountering advanced technology. From his point it could easily look like magic. And then you as a reader would get the same idea unless you get some more information.
 

direstraits

Well-Known Member
This is a good discussion. While we draw the lines that edge ever so closely to a proper definition, along comes a book that combines the two elements to such a degree where it becomes confusing again. What of time travelling stories where the characters from the modern day travel to the magic-wielding denizens of the past? What of stories that has wizards sitting on a mountain cliff meditating while space shuttles whistles by overhead?

What about (gasp!!!) Star Wars? :D

My definition of scifi and fantasy is wonderfully described by Oberon. And since I'm at heart a fantasy purist (if there is such a thing), I'd categorize any stories that combine magic and high technology as science fiction. I don't like the idea that my wizards and elf queens who knows how to travel in assault vehicle to be called fantasy. :D

ds
 
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