1. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    If it's set in a different world, is it fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by michaelj, Jun 27, 2013.

    What defines the genre, fantasy? Supposing a story was set in a different world but in a different era, would it be a fantasy? Even if the story in question had no magic (other than mythical artefacts), no races, no monsters etc.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would say if it's set on a different PLANET it might be science fiction. I'm not sure what you mean by 'world.'

    I guess it depends on whether or not the writer makes the case for the story being a possible reality (connected in some way the reality we live in now.) Does the story take place on past, present or future planets that might actually exist in our universe?

    I don't think fantasy necessarily has to contain magic. I've always defined fantasy as a story we KNOW is not 'true' and could never be true, as opposed to sci-fi, which are stories that could conceivably be true, given circumstances we think could actually exist. Maybe this is simplistic of me, and there is certainly genre overlap, but that's the distinction I've made.

    In other words, Firefly is sci-fi, because it refers to Earth-that-was, and contains artifacts and even nationalities we recognise. Firefly portrays a potential 'future' for humankind.

    Star Wars, on the other hand, is fantasy. There is no attempt made to connect it with the 'real' world in any way.
     
  3. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    It's set in a different world. It's inspired by the Napoleonic era, so they have muskets and swords. Their names are mainly Anglo-Saxon. The people in the west have names close to real names, I.e. Darel, Stefn, Jon, Hilda. Whilst people in the east have names like Worgel, Woden, Wyrell etc. I don't if the names mean it's a fantasy or sci-fi but thought I'd drop it in.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Woh, sounds like fantasy to me. If it's inspired by the Napoleonic era, that gives it a certain feel, but if it's not actually connected to the Napoleonic wars, that makes it fantasy. I reckon...! :)
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There is a whole other thread currently hashing the bajinkies out of this very subject. :D

    Whether it is Sci-Fi or Fantasy, both or neither is going to depend on some highly arguable elements. Are Anne McCaffrey's many books set on the world of Pern Fantasy because they have dragons and castles and an unmistakable medieval flavor, or are they Sci-Fi because she carefully explains how all of this came to be in the terms expected of a Sci-Fi story. The inhabitants of Pern are the descendants of a crashed ship from Earth, the dragons are a species native to the planet, she makes a clear distinction between the look and feel of native flora & fauna v. imported, etc. MZB's Darkover novels are along the same vein, as are Julian May's Pleistocene Epoch and Galactic Milieu series.
     
  6. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    How do you define 'fantasy'? Isn't all fiction a fantasy, even if it contains elements of truth and reality?

    If it's not non-fiction, then is fantasy different from fiction? I don't think so.
     
  7. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    That's a very interesting way of thinking about it.

    My own view is this: if there's magic, it's fantasy.

    Star Wars has magic (the force). That makes it fantasy. Firefly has no magic. Not fantasy.

    There are also many stories that *do* take place on our own world in our own time that fall under fantasy because of their inclusion of magic. The somewhat recent Nic Cage movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a good example. The magic aspect overrides the real-world aspect and makes it fantasy.

    I'm struggling to come up with examples of fantasy that don't use magic at all.
     
  8. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Historical fiction if it is in a different era. If the artifacts are magical, then it would be fantasy.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not a matter of semantics, but of accepted genres in the literary world... and in that sense, 'fantasy' is fiction that takes place with other than the real world as the setting... or set in the real world, but with characters/events that are not realistic...
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There is fantasy with no magic, no monsters, and so on. If you set it in a world you created, it can still be fantasy even if it has none of those things. It might be science fiction, depending on how you approach the subject matter in terms of its relation to science.
     
  11. Erasmus B. Dragon
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    Erasmus B. Dragon Member

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    Ghormenghast, as far as I know, doesn't include any magic, it's just set in another wold, and it's considered fantasy.
     
  12. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    A story set in another world doesn't have to be fantasy, as fantasy doesn't have to be set upon another world. If the story stays in the bounds of reality and those aspects that necessarily don't are given plausible explinations, then you can say the story is Science Fiction. If things are based on what is true in our reality, whether set on our Earth (past, present or future), in space, an alternate Earth or another planet in our Universe, then it could easily be made to fit the sci-fi genre. However a fantasy story without magic... is that really possible? Could Treasure Planet (animation) fit that? It's been a while scince I've seen it, but from what I remember, I think it fits the description of Fantasy without Magic. Although, in my personal opinion, what may seem like fantasy to one person could seem like sci-fi to another... or be categorised as the opposite. An Anime called Glass Fleet felt like a fantasy to me, but if you look its genre up, it says Science Fiction.

    You may what to try reading a book about writing Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories. I have a book by David Gerrold called "Worlds of Wonder, How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy". I haven't fully read the book, but is has many chapters about writing stories for the two genres, in addition to developing characters and aliens and building worlds. There are also examples in the book and mentions of his work. Such a book could be useful to you. Oh! Gerrold writes in this book about a rule Dr. Cohen has -

    Terran = insect species for though who don't know (like me). That rule is why I said "If things are based on what is true in our reality" a little earlier. It's under the section about building aliens, but there isn't any reason why you can't apply it to other aspects of sci-fi fiction. Fantasy can be bases on what exists in reality, but you can also come up with something unrealistic and wacky if you want, so long as they don't change mid way through the story.... with out a good reason.

    I hope I've been of some help here... and not confused you or anyone else!
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, that's a classic example. Actually, there are quite a lot of examples of fantasy books with no magics. KJ Parker's books, for example (The Company, and I don't think his Engineer series has any, from what I've heard and it was mentioned in a thread I found listing some examples). I don't remember any magic in Guy Gavriel Kay's Lions of Al-Rassan. Ellen Kushner's fantasy books starting with Swordspoint. I've heard people mention Watership Down, which I think would have to fall under the category of fantasy.

    That's not an exhaustive list, of course.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know this is a film reference, but I'm watching it now and this thread popped into my head. I'm watching House of Flying Daggers. The question it's making me ask is: How much does personal knowledge influence the perception of what is and isn't Fantasy?

    I freakin' love these new-school kungfu films of the last 10 - 15 years. I am entranced by the ballet of the kungfu itself. I don't personally know how much of what they do during fight and chase scenes is physically possible. Some things are obviously fantastic, like the duel at the lake in Hero, but other things, most things, ride a line that leaves me wondering. Could they? I don't know. I've seen some pretty fantastic stuff be done by people that I would have thought not possible had I not seen it. Are these films Fantasy because the physical possibility of those actions is questionable?
     
  15. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Lines can really get fuzzy between genres. Music is another good example of this. You have metal, black metal, death metal, nu metal, black plague progressive death metal with a coke and fries. Okay so not the last one but you get my point. There are tons of sub-genres within any genre and those really straddle the fence. So I suppose it depends on what you feel is fundamental to one genre or another. I feel a lot of them overlap in places.
     
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  16. Sriliko
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    Sriliko Member

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    Hero was Really good.

    But I would say in more in some, less in Others. Wile there is Movies like Hero and Dororo that have the Fantasy aspect. The ones like Ong Bak and Ip man, would use more of a "master of the physically possible" that dont really have a fantasy sense to them.

    I say Both, but either or as well.
     
  17. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    If the world is explained by science, it is science fiction. If it lacks explanation, or uses magic, it is fantasy. If it is in between, it can be a mash up. Both are speculative fiction.
     

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