1. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Sci-fi vs. Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by aguywhotypes, Dec 18, 2014.

    I read this article hear: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2014/02/fantasy-without-magic.html

    and then my question is. If fantasy is just something relating to something that is "fantastic" and is a world not of our own. They please tell me then what differentiates a fantasy setting/world vs science fiction world?
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Magic mainly (which is why Star Wars is Science Fantasy).
     
  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I call a story "science fiction" I generally mean it tries to help the reader to imagine that science and technology have advanced from the real world level to a new level, thereby making certain things possible, and the story depicts those things.

    Even something as simple as a character who uses a time machine instead of casting a time traveling spell makes the story sci fi instead of fantasy, although just barely. That is because a depiction of machinery causes the reader to focus less on the plot and more on the applied phlebotinum that makes the plot possible (and to notice the distinction between explanation and hand-waving); therefore, it is likelier that the reader imagines, however vaguely, some kind of progress from the real-world level of science and technology to the point where time travel is achievable. (I consider it to be very soft sci fi if that is all it does.)

    If the story explains how the time machine works, with accurate references to real-world theories of theoretical physics (with well-thought-out modifications to the theories where appropriate), then that makes it hard sci fi, because it is trying much harder to walk the reader through the process of imagining scientific and technological progress.
     
  4. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @daemon. I generally think of fantasy as a story/world which contains fantastic creatures or magic, though to differentiate between sci-fi and fantasy I employ the "if it is scientifically explained, it is sci-fi"-logic. Sadly, this definition is not solid by any means, so line is still really fuzzy and I find that the two often fall into each other.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    This is my understanding of the genres:

    Fantasy- It's a setting that usually involves magic of some type, and what I like to call, the 'whatever the hell you want' genre. Want magical boats that fly in the sky commandeered by talking lemurs in 18th-century clothing who can shoot spells out of their paws? Done. Very little explanation is needed, people will usually just roll with it if it makes enough sense given the book's setting.

    Sci-fi- It's a bit like fantasy, only it relies on science, hence the term 'science-fiction'. Of course, there are a wide variety of this sort of thing, but generally speaking, it has some basis on our understanding of science. So if you're going to do the 'talking lemurs in flying boats' thing, you have to have some way to scientifically explain how that's possible. Maybe somewhere in the future, we humans invented a serum that increased the cognitive and intellectual levels of lemurs to match our own or some such. These lemurs are not going to be shooting spells out of their paws, they'll be armed with blasters.

    Sci-fi/Fantasy- It's basically a mesh of the two. Our serum not only made the lemurs smart, but it gave them the ability to tap into something previously undiscovered by humans and enabled them to do magic.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Just remember that there are fantasy books with no magic. It's not a requirement.
     
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  7. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How do you know that? Maybe they replaced their paws with "spell" shooting robot thingies?
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Or maybe handheld laser blasters?? The possibilities are endless!
     
  9. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    This is exactly what I'm talking about. So if it isn't a requirement and if there is no magic then what then keeps it fantasy?
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's in a completely made up world, for example. The Gormenghast books are fantasy (that's where they're shelved and I haven't seen any debate about it). There is no magic. The stories take place in a gigantic castle that never existed, in a world that never existed. That's sufficient to define it as fantasy, in my view.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Or maybe Colt .45 revolvers?
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    In a sci-fi setting? That's like if Commander Shepard ran into battle with a 1450s Medieval France sword. Her crew would laugh at her for that.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wouldn't a Colt .45 be a fantasy element in the Star Wars universe? :D
     
  14. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Nah.
    Colts could still easily exist in that universe as collector items just like we have people collecting classic cars or making new ones in the real world.

    Fantasy doesn't really need magic but it has become a heavy trope.
    I think my current work would be okay if I removed all magic but it's part of the mystery and craziness, it'd take away a little bit.
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    My fantasy story has magic. It literally wouldn't be the same without it. :p
     
  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Star Wars is a long time ago, not in the future.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The weirdness in science fiction needs to be a fairly plausible extension of science. The weirdness in fantasy doesn't need to be plausible.

    In Buffy, a girl who was ignored by her classmates eventually turned invisible, because she felt that way. In Like Water For Chocolate, the food made by a girl who couldn't express her feeling in any other way, made people who ate that food feel her feelings. The Borrowers were the explanation for how little things keep vanishing in a house. There's no science behind these; they're fantasy.

    Edited to add: But they didn't require magic, either. Buffy does have explicit magic, but the bit about the invisible girl didn't include anyone casting any spells; that plotline could have worked in a fictional work with no magic at all. And the other two have no magic at all.
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    In science fiction the concept constrains the story.

    Star Trek in particular sets rigid rules about how it's science elements work. Even though their foundation in science is, at best, speculative, and at worst technobable bullshit, there are constant limits to what they can do*.

    Fantasy has no limits. Magic works at the whim of the author, and in many novels not even death offers a great barrier. Magic works from the power of the character and if the author chooses to make a character powerful, then he is, end of story. An easy staple of the genre is the "other world", where humans appear on another planet with different continents and no explanation of how they got there, or how another world brought forth Homo Sapiens, when most of these worlds have neither apes, or other key elements in our evolution. Gods tend to be the cause, or ancient civilizations, but these offer nothing in the way of constraint.

    *this is not true of the recent Abrams vehicle Star Trek movies, where black holes somehow allow you to travel through time, transporters have a range of several hundred thousand light years, and planet destroying red matter makes the same explosion whether you use a drop or a fucking 50 gallon drum.
     

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