1. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    Sci-Fantasy?!

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by ClusterChuck, Jan 31, 2012.

    We all know there's a definite line dividing sci-fi and fantasy. Something to do with plausibility, I don't know... Isaac Asimov says it best in 'Magic.' Either way I ran into a discussion at work with a middle aged Argentinian over whether good fiction can strive to be in both spheres.

    This got brought up at work because i was trying to explain a universe, in which a number of my short stories and my current novel endeavor, takes place in. He proceeds to tell me I can't be both Tolkien and Asimov at the same time. I went on to ask him if he's ever seen Star Wars. He retorted with the fact that there was nothing Sci-Fi about that aurthorian excalibur bullshit; backing up his point by spouted out some klingon-spanish insult. Needless to say the conversation spiraled from that point on...

    I thought this would be an good place to send this tangent of literary grayness to for further discussion.

    And so, can one be both a Tolkien and Asimov in the same piece? A Tolimov?
     
  2. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    Maybe my definitions are incorrect, but I always thought it was one or the other.
     
  3. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    Conventionally, yes there is a line. But is there room for the unconventional? Along the lines of metafiction, experimental, abstract, satire, etc.
     
  4. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Nothing sci-fi about Star Wars? I would say Star wars is the perfect example of a story that straddles the sci-fi and fantasy genres. There is magic (well, until Lucas cocked that up with all the midichlorian crap in episode 1) and 'laser swords' and princesses and wizards and dark lords and something about a ring and... ok, there's nothing about a ring (not in the PG version anyway) but it does rather encompass all the traditional elements of fantasy while being firmly located in a sci-fi universe. So, well argued there, Chuck.

    And the Argentinian guy sounds like a douche.
     
  5. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    Thanks Kallithrax. I thought so.

    In fact, star wars was inspired by the old serials like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. There was a golden age pre Star Wars where sci fi reached into the realm of winged vikings and enchanted weapons. I'm trying to recapture some of that nonsense, but with a harder edge scifi and a higher shelf of fantasy. The extremes of the genres sparking at each others imagery.

    Not to mention mary Shelly's Frankenstein.
     
  6. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have heard Star Wars referred to as 'Science Fantasy'. Since Star Wars has both science (technology, space travel, alien species) and the supernatural (The Force) I'd say it's both.

    Tolkien meets Asimov? I love it! I can't wait to read it. :)
     
  7. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Do you have an example other than Star wars because I dont agree it fits the bill, and I cant recall many stories do cross that boundary.

    Science fiction is usually described as: Fiction that deals principally with the impact of real or imagined scienctific principles on a scoiety or individual, or where such an imagined science is the primary factor.

    Fantasy on the other hand: Inaginative fiction featuring especially strange and bizarre settings or creatures that may have no actual living or existing parallel.

    Now I'm not saying that in theory you couldn't write one but I think they do tend to be mutually exclusive.

    Example: Lord of the Rings with laser guns and space ships - still a fantasy because imo it's set in a completely 'unreal' or imagined universe.
    Example: Humans find a planet full of space elves and space dragons - Science fiction because it bases the initial concept on humans furthering actual possibilities of space flight. Once in space of course anything is possible, though not always believable.

    I don't think that science fiction need limit itself to only those ideas that we have a grasp on now, nor do i think that all fantasy should be limited to sword and sorcery but i think as to technically what you would call the concept...dunno!

    Not very hepful so I guess i'm still on the fence.
     
  8. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    It's Kalli-thrix, Kalli-T-H-R-I-X!!

    *facepalm*
     
  9. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    Kalli... my bad. Accept this raw panda as an apology.
     
  10. Dragon Boy
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    Dragon Boy Member

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    It can be done but obviously it is risky to mix those genres as it might confuse your readers. Your best bet would be to have a strict plan from the get-go as to which elements from Fantasy and which elements from SF you want to use in your story.

    You might also want to look into the Steampunk sub-genre which loosely fits what you want to do.
     
  11. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Make it a raw panda dipped in chocolate and I'll think about it.

    Kalli is fine though :D
     
  12. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a pretty thin line, but I think usually people associate fantasy with magic and medieval settings, while sci-fi is usually set in the future with advanced technology. I definitely reckon you could merge them...its probably been done before but I can't think of any at this point. Although i'd have a look at some anime/manga stories....I think theres quite a few there that merge both genres. I think it would be quite cool reading a medieval style story set in the future!
     
  13. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Yes, it's definitely possible to do cross-over genres, and my agent says that's whats really selling at the moment. One that comes to mind (ok, so it's a TV series not a book) is Firefly - sci-fi meets western. Pure genius :D
     
  14. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    My first thought was steampunk: it's generally a little of both.

    I think the best example of science fantasy (or whatever we're calling it) is The Dark Tower series. Yeah, Stephen King is way over-referenced on this forum, but I think he fairly successfully used elements of both fantasy and SF to tell that story.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would suggest _The Number Of The Beast_ by Robert Heinlein. On the science side, it presented the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, the old "butterfly effect" where every different decision creates a different universe. Some of the protagonists built a vehicle that could transport them between universes, and that also had a very advanced AI personality.

    Then he went with the premise that if there's an infinite number of universes, then every fictional situation that's been created must, naturally, exist as one of those universes. I'd say that if you kept to fictional situations that obeyed the laws of physics, then up to this point you're still in the realm of science fiction. Even the fact that the travelers seemed to be drawn to the universes that matched their favorite novels could also probably be explained somehow.

    Then they went to Oz. :) The fictional universes didn't have to obey the laws of physics; they obeyed their own laws. That's the point where I'd say that science fiction and fantasy melded.

    ChickenFreak
     
  16. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    What I'm working on is hard to sum up.

    The earth and its future space infrastructure is cut off from each other by a genre inspecific entity using a storm of a highly fantasy nature encompassing earth. No communication, no transportation. All data and matter is nontransmutable across the higher layers of the atomosphere where this crazy storm is circulating.

    During the initiation of this event all society is pretty leveled on earth. Quiet leterally no trace. The survivors are mind scrubbed down to thier base instincts and left to rebuild in drastically changed ecosystems pockets around the world. On top of that there is no celestial bodies in the observable sky due to the highly active,high altitude, and ever present overcast. After seven hundred years the fastest strongest and smartest of the chosen survivors (by said entity) repopulate and fly right into a bronze era with some help from Entity of course. Cut past a great war that united many city-states in what use to be southern California under a tyranical ruler with Imperial aims. An empire forged with a blade of heavy fantasy mojo. Spirit magic. During the political strife of the tyrant's misdeeds you'll find, in chapter one (of the novel proper), my MC in the tyrants service training sword in hand to be one hell of a municiple guardsman. Until his mum turns out to be a deeply infiltrated secret spy for a long established force opposing said tyrant, only for her to be slaughtered in chapter two sending my MC and a trusted childhood friend into the arms of fate. No guns, no electricity. Instead you get oracles, rouges, gladiators, tribal nomads, a few new religious structures, necromancy (zombies), mega beasts (Direcoyotes, sabertooth lions, etc.), and heavy narcotic use.

    Meanwhile in the various bases and colonies (getting by quite well with what they think is an unreachable and decimated home planet) life is good. Light political upheavals. Merchants and mercenaries, pirates and elected officials. Io is heavily settled and water rights is staple of economy. Mars is a project of terraforming halfway complete. Travel has reached 1/1000the speed of light. You can vacation over the rings of saturn on a weeks pay for the average laborer, and there's heavy narcotic use.

    Of course, a man with a freighter of stolen military grade weaponry and biochemical wizardry crash lands outside the grand canyon. Being 'let in' through the seperating storm by the chessmaster entity to aid the diabolical whims of his experiment of human nature.

    Just a trite scratch of the surface there, but i think the genre representations are clear.
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you can definitely be a Tolimov. Or Askien. Whichever you prefer :D
    There are so many sub-genres within both sci-fi and fantasy, and most definitely, there are so many good books which cross genres, so whatever that guy from work thinks is irrelevant.
    You know how they say, opinions are like assholes - everyone has one :D
     
  18. ClusterChuck
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    ClusterChuck Senior Member

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    To be honest, this paricular argentinian I wouldn't do without. He may be a crazy old frack but he's the only guy i've meet since moving to florida who i can argue with about these things. And he's the only guy who I've ever meet that can speak fluent Klingon. I had no idea that show was as huge there as it is. At least we agree on Dr. Who, him and I.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    According to whom? Both are considered speculative fiction, and there are many pieces that are classified differently by different people.

    Notable example: Star Wars.

    It really isn't worth arguing over.
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    They clearly think that one particular sub-genre is the whole of the genre. Star Wars is most definitely sci-fi. What it is not is hard sci-fi. Hard-sci-fi needs scientific plausibility (that's what makes it hard sci-fi), but there's plenty of sci-fi that doesn't, including no end of Arthurian Excalibur bullshit (in space). Hard sci-fi is difficult to mix with magical type fantasy, because you have to find a scientifically credible way of accounting for the magic (Simon Morden's The Lost Art sort of does this, but largely because you gradually realise that you're not reading the genre you thought you were reading). The Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven also sort of does it by having two MPs, and from the perspective of one MP what is happening is science (so it's hard sci-fi) and from the perspective of the other it's magic (so it's fantasy). But neither of those -- wonderful though I think both are -- really mix the genres, they just challenge your expectations of which you are reading.

    Any of the other branches of sci-fi, though, could relatively easily be mixed with fantasy. Why shouldn't a magical elf use a spaceship based on conventional science, if that's an easier way of getting to the stars than using her magic? Some publishers would be hostile because it doesn't fit either genre, but others might love the way it undermines them. I think that Star Wars is a fine precedent. And isn't Dr Who's sonic screwdriver really a magic wand?
     
  21. jonsnana
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    jonsnana Member

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    Strange, I've been reading hard sci-fi, sci-fi, space operas, fantasy and blends of all of the above since I was 10. That was 48 years ago! Nobody really cares what you call it if it is written well, is fast-paced, and the characters are people you are sure you know. (Even if they do look a little different.) Don't bother to argue with someone that is offended by a fictional universe. Create your own and let us in.
     

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