SciFi versus fantasy

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by Dinosaur, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Eh? If you're comparing Star Wars and Star Trek, they were in different galaxies and one happened a long time ago, I don't see the issue there. If you're solely speaking of Star Wars I'm not up on the canon, but isn't that people making things up in our time anyway?
     
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  3. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

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    Yes and when the writers of star wars write their stories they do not really care about the science part in their story
     
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  5. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    And they lose me quickly when they do that.
     
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  7. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

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    I tend to enjoy both fantasy and sci-fi. I understand that some people might not like fantasy.... but I don't know why
     
  8. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Because it's unrealistic. I like some fantasy, but some goes over the top and is just Tinker Bell on meth. The authors rely on wandwavium to get them out of trouble.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    You mean like Star Trek's technobabble, or the anti-Klingon button?
    Personally I like both sci-if and fantasy, depending on mood. The characters have to be believable, people you want to invest time in, and the ground rules for what is and isn't allowed in the setting should be set out somehow and then adhered to, so that there is no wandwavium or anti-Klingon button. But other than that, I see magicks is as just another technology, and vice versa. Unexplained, perhaps, but otherwise (hopefully) working in a consistent way throughout the adventure.
     
  10. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    I don't hate fantasy, I just want to know going in that this is the name of the game. If they suddenly whip out a wand to fix a broken transporter I'm outta there.
     
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Science fiction is fiction that relies on specific (and at least somewhat self consistent) science to tell a story. For Star Trek the technologies are things like warp drive and the transporter; for Star Wars they are things like hyperdrive and repulsorlifts.

    Fantasy doesn't do that. There may be technology there but it is not central to the story (i.e. the story does not require it) and/or it functions as a deus ex machina; science is brought in at some time to save the hero or create a dilemma for the protagonist, but is not explained, reused or quantified.

    In general fantasy uses things like magic or fictional creatures to weave their stories. The His Dark Materials series, for example, is fantasy; there is technology in it (the knife, the bear's abilities as a blacksmith) but it is not explained, reused or indeed discussed much. It just is.
     
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Lots of times it sounds to me as if SF and Fantasy are split on criteria indistinguishable from high and low quality writing - with the split depending on which category the splitter favors.

    The writers themselves have weighed in.

    Harlan Ellison, RIP, rejected (in his normal abrasive manner) the label "science fiction" for his stuff - preferring labels such as "fantasy" etc.
    Harlan Ellison wrote important, influential scripts and screenplays for the original Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and Star Trek, along with a thousand or more short stories that are routinely classified as "Science Fiction" and have strongly influenced movies and the like that almost everyone classifies as "science fiction" (The Terminator, for example).

    On the other hand, Ursula Le Guin RIP - who has calmly accepted the label "science fiction" for some of her works, in general agreement with everybody else, despite the involvement of technology in many of those writings being distinctly non-technical or even peripheral - has asserted that the Star Wars franchise is not science fiction at all, but sword&sorcery romance, and contrasted it with the work of Philip Dick and Harlan Ellison to make the point.

    Note that the "technology" involved in those of Le Guin's works generally agreed to be fantasy - wizards and magic staffs and dragons and the like - is highly technical and central to the story and explained and treated carefully, rigorously, repeatedly. So is - in a different manner - the "technology" of Terry Pratchett's Discworld (normally considered fantasy).

    Meanwhile, "fictional creatures" is a slippery category. The entire Art is often referred to as "fiction", and all of its creatures and/or characters "fictional", for a reason.
     
  13. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    The argument could be extended, that by some means of flebotinum, the signal only has enough strength to go through so much, and can go into a desert, but not through a ships hull, without being assisted by some reciever.
    The flebotinum could be extended, saying there is some type of special particle, which has a customizable half-life, the particle can go through solid matter, but not too deep. And once the half-life of this particle is over, it turns into solid matter. Perhaps some kind of inter-dimensional particle, or "out of phase" or something.
     
  14. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Any babble will do when it comes to Star Trek.
     
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  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Actually, Larry Niven, in his Magic books, attempted to put the lie to that.

    His Magic was relatively consistent and logical. It had a source, with limited supply (though ultimately he didn't go into detail about the workings of the source).

    Many of his stories have the mechanics of magic as part their core. In one story, he defeated a magic-sword-bearing foe by creating a spinning accelerating disc that had no upper limit to its speed. It used up all the "manna" in the local area, causing the depletion of the magic sword.

    This diminishing resource also explains why we have no magic today - all the manna has been depleted - kinda like oil.
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    One important distinction between reality and fantasy is that in reality, energy isn't a "thing" that could be beamed. There's no such thing as "pure energy", regardless of anything you might hear from a New Age guru. Energy isn't a substance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think that the big difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy is that science fiction sticks to science that's plausible in contemporary terms. There are a handful of science fiction movies that do, such as the Martian and Contagion. But most often science fiction doesn't. It introduces fictional technology like super-luminal star drives and time machines, that are impossible in present-day terms.

    As I see it, the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy is more about a literary attitude towards the future. Science fiction is about the possibilities that many believe are implicit in progress. Science fiction might be filled with wonders, but it's all portrayed as the products of more advanced scientific understanding, of probing deeper and deeper into nature's secrets.

    Fantasy on the other hand, seems to be an expression of deep doubt about progress. It's often anachronistic, imagining stories that take place in pseudo-medieval periods filled with kings, queens, wizards and dragons. Any sense of wonder that fantasy generates seems to revolve around a revival of ceremonial magic, daemons, strange beasts and the threat of dark and malevolent Satan-like forces. If science appears at all in these stories, it's usually as one of the dark and evil forces, an ugly and inhuman magic of clanking machines and stinking pollution that threatens to kill all the magic, dragons and unicorns.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Right; that was science fiction. As was Brin's "The Practice Effect" where a magic-like force is used by the protagonist to foil his nemesis.

    It doesn't matter what you call the technology; after all, it was a science fiction writer who coined the now-famous phrase "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The important factor is that it uses specific and at least somewhat self consistent science (magic, in this case) to tell a story.

    Is it a story about fairies and elves who have a new trick of magic any time they get in a jam, and magic from the last book is forgotten even if it would get them out of a new jam? Fantasy. Is it a story about a sorcerer who spends months refining a spell, learning how it works, learning what its problems and strengths are, then uses it to further some part of the plot? Closer to science fiction than fantasy.

    (All IMO, of course.)
     
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  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    And the corollary, that's even more apt here:

    "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."
     
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    As noted, the criteria seem to be more or less good vs bad writing - with the bad assigned to the genre the evaluator thinks less of.

    The examples I posted - Le Guin, Pratchett, Dick, Ellison, et al - have written very carefully and "technically" coherent works that they themselves classify as definitely and no-argument fantasy, and very carefully and "technically" coherent works that they themselves classify as science fiction. LeGuin may be the clearest example of someone who calmly divides their own work into piles (SF, Fantasy, Realist, Miscellaneous, etc) without quibbling too much about it (and winning awards etc in each pile) - she is famous for long ago distinguishing the dialogue, the language, of Elfland from that of Poughkeepsie, and being (in her civil way) scathing of those who approach "genre fiction" without due respect.
    https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/65964-from-elfland-to-poughkeepsie
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I disagree. Tolkien? Excellent writer - fantasy. Saberhagen? One of the least skilled writers out there - firmly in SF. There are plenty of examples on both sides.
     
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Similar to music. Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen: mediocre singers but they wrote some of the best songs ever. Style versus substance.
     
  23. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    First time I heard Dylan I thought he was a contemporary of Arlo Guthrie. Croaking oldster.
     

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