1. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Genre Bender (or: Fantasy/Sci Fi crossover)

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Arathald, Mar 13, 2011.

    I've been thinking about this, and while there's certainly no hard and fast rules about mixing Fantasy and Sci-Fi, I can't think of or find any specific examples.

    What I mean by this is a story set in the future, including the technologies you might expect, as well as at least a rudimentary magic system.

    Does anyone know an example of this? Do you think it could work out well and be interesting (I certainly do), or do you think it would be destined to flop?

    Edit: I guess Star Wars would kind of be an example of this, but the "magic" isn't really presented as such. I was thinking of something a little more explicit.
     
  2. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Palpatine electrocuted people with blue lightning from his fingers. He wore a freakin' cloak. He and Vader were wizards.
     
  3. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Ok, I'll concede that perhaps Star Wars is an example of this kind of story, even though I tend not to think of it in terms of fantasy (mostly because the force isn't really presented explicitly as magic). Does anyone have any other examples, perhaps where the magic system is more explicit?
     
  4. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do you get more explicit than shooting blue zap from your fingers? Having an owl named Archimedes?
     
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  5. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have a hard time finding example you just not read enough fantasy and sf.

    Dune, Otherworld, Stargate, The Matrix, The Darkangel Trilogy, Dying Earth, The Shanarra book,,,
     
  6. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Urban Fantasy is a popular genre of magic coexisting with modern technology. It's not a stretch to put magic coexisting with more advanced technology.

    Science fiction and fantasy have more in common than you give them credit for. They're two sides of the same coin.

    "Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible."
    - Rod Serling, aka, the guy that made The Twilight Zone
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dr Who and Torchwood are definite crossovers - honestly a small blue flying box? fairies (I mean the ones with wings and not the characters)? giant talking scary sweets? pepperpots that have terrfied generations of people - that went from not being able to use stairs to levitating?
     
  8. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I realize that they have a lot in common, but in most examples that I could think of, one is defined in terms of another (in The Matrix, for example, there's no "real magic", it's a side effect of the technological setting). I guess this is what I mean by explicit vs implicit magic -- in urban fantasy, magic is called magic, and explicitly presented as such, and not partially or entirely explained away by biology or technology, so urban fantasy set in the future would be closer to what I had in mind. (Are there any examples of this, out of curiosity?)

    The reason I never thought of The Force in Star Wars as explicit magic is that it's never referred to as magic, and it's partially explained biologically. I'm not saying it's not magic from a literary point of view, it just seems like it was moderated to make it feel... less like magic, if that makes sense. Another example is Star Trek, where you have telepathic and even telekinetic abilities, but these are explained in terms of biology, instead of letting them be their own thing.


    Ah, I hadn't thought of that one. I think that fits better with what I was thinking, since, as far as I remember, they don't try to explain the paranormal in terms of technology.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does fantasy have to have magic ? Pern doesn't.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think we need to see it at a narrative meta level. The question of whatever it magic or not is not defined by what you call it, but how it works and is presented.
     
  11. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    No, which is why I defined what I meant a little more narrowly.


    The reason I'm asking is that I'm considering injecting an element of magic into a near-future sci-fi novel, without trying to explain it away in terms of biology or technology. I didn't mean to imply that such a thing didn't exist, and I'm sure I can't be the first person to ever think of such a thing, but I couldn't come up with any specific examples. The closest I got is the storyline of Assassin's Creed, esp. AC2 -- the protagonist has things like eagle vision (remarkably close to seeing with the "third eye", used in a lot of traditional and fictional magical systems), and the ending definitely incorporates some supernatural/magical elements. In AC, though, they generally keep those things, which occurred in the past, separate from the near-future present.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding is roughly Sci-Fi is doing things that could be scientifically possible at some point in future. With a touch of imagination thrown in.

    Fantasy is imagination.

    I have scientific explanations for the magic in my world based on physics and energy streams, it uses ancient 'science' with the elemental attacks. There is nothing Sci-Fi about my book time wise it's modern (they have TVs, laptops, jeans etc) with magic set on another world.
     
  13. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think Rod Serling's definition makes a lot of sense:

    "Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible."

    Yet. I don't really think it is very meaningful to make distinction in speculative fiction, (horror, sf, fantasy, magical realism etc), except for marketing reasons. It all really the same thing, you include some fantastic element for some purpose that is presented in some way.
     
  14. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    See, I would personally classify this as Sci-Fi, and not Fantasy, because you have scientific explanations for your magic, and therefore, it doesn't require a supernatural/metaphysical element to function. But, as Ion mentioned, the genres are very close, and this is only how I would personally define it. This is probably why the literary community doesn't try to draw to heavy of a line between the two, and you often see Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a single genre.

    The more I think of it, the more I see that Star Wars *does* have a fantasy/magic element to it, but I think it's moderated just enough that I never really thought of it in those terms.

    Out of curiosity for how you define the genres, would you guys say that Mass Effect has a strong element of Fantasy, especially magic, to it? (I know, I'm using another video game example, I'm terrible.) It's certainly solidly in Sci-Fi, but they have Biotics, which are biological-technological abilities that allow things like telekinetics.

    I'm not going to try to define the terms conclusively; I'm not terribly worried about the semantics of magic and Sci-Fi vs Fantasy, I was just curious as to its treatment in literature.

    Edit:
    As I mentioned before, I don't think this is by any means unique or original, but I'm thinking that I could treat such a cross-genre story more uniquely that I could with a strict Sci-Fi novel (which was my original intent), which is why I'm particularly interested in it.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah but I also use that 'science' to turn them into birds and they use fireflies to shoot fireballs - again explained because the 'fireflies' are like the bloodcells of the universe carrying energy from the heart to the other places where there are light.

    My stories are very definitely high fantasy - they do have a crossover with other none fantasy genres though.

    Honestly I don't think it matters - you need to have an idea for the query about where to market it but most fantasy books include horror/paranormal/sci fi elements etc.
     
  16. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Well you know a lot of "magic" in the real world was often replaced by science


    science is magic



    we do things that are not passable in nature (make things that are man made
    clone things ect)


    thats one few the reasons you don't see it

    magic was humans wanting to do the imposable though science we are



    Boblon 5 (tv show() had a awesome perspective
    with some type of tech mages (cant remeber the name


    but anyways they used science to make magic


    one of the guys asked the main carercther

    "tell me how would this place look to someone in the midevil times?"
    "i guess only magic"
    "then who's to say its not, after all is magic not just a fantasy"
    (or words to that effect)


    to science fiction is magic


    a ship that can destroy a whole planet is magical




    to me they both are the same
     
  17. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I think Pern is exactly the kind of thing that he's talking about. On the face of it, it's fantasy (it's about dragons, for crying out loud). However, there is no magic, and as more of the story is unearthed, it seems more and more sci-fi.

    Not to mention that McCaffrey is a sci-fi writer by trade.

    I see the dividers between all genres within the speculative fiction umbrella as porous. So many novels have elements of fantasy and sci-fi, and maybe horror too.
     
  18. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    (shortened for brevity)

    Right, I agree that they are often perceived in similar ways, but there is still the subtle distinction between magic that's possible within the laws of physics of any particular world given enough technology, and magic that necessitates something metaphysical. Even though humans can even now do things that "aren't natural", that just means they they wouldn't happen spontaneously (using the term scientifically), not that they don't follow natural laws.

    The difference is subtle, and, within fiction, the two are quite interchangeable. It can be argued that it's a matter of perspective, and, within any story, it's up to the author to choose what perspective to use.

    One line that's usually not crossed is that of supernatural beings; they tend to fall fairly solidly in the metaphysical, not the technological realm, although that's not set in stone either; I can think of at least one example of sentient ghosts caused by technology from the TV show Eureka. (Hmm... Why do all my examples come from video games and TV? I read a lot more than I play games or watch TV...)
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C Clarke

    Larry Niven wrote a group of short stories set in the time of magic. But his magic followed tightly consistent rules, and was dependent on a dwindling magicsal resource called manna. I would argue that that was more science fiction than magic. It was speculation based on extrapolating the outcomes of a well-defined premise.

    Star Wars has the look and feel of technology and science, but the rules of the universe are very loosely defined, and it blatantly ignores even mundane science constantly. It leans heavily on mysticism, not on any kind of extrapolation of a specific premise.

    That is the principal difference between science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction explores logical consequences of a postulated situation, whereas fantasy simply postulates the impossible and uses it freely. It's still an exploration, but not used predictively based on a logical progression.

    And yes, sometimes the line is very fuzzy.
     
  20. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Swords Trilogies/Series by Fred Saberhagen is an example of a mixture of SF and Technology. Ardneh, worshipped by the followers of the White Temple, turns out to be s sophisticated computer.
     
  21. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A simple example how it in many cases their no meaningful distinction in most cases between sf/fantasy/paranormal/etc could be telepathy.

    On a narrative level there no real difference between:

    *Telepathy being a magical skill people acquire or a born with.
    *Telepathy coming from technological implant
    *Telepathy being a result of a mutation.
    *telepathy being a allegri for a deep friendship.
     

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