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Author Topic: [Discussion] What do you feel is "SciFi" vs. Fantasy?  (Read 1698 times)
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« on: July 24, 2007, 05:26:51 PM »

This is an open topic on the discussion. It's friendly, and the subject says "feels" so no one is WRONG. Except CeeKay, but that's a given. Hell, everytime I write a .sh script, I declare CeeKey=false just to be sure. slywink

This thread was born of a hijacked thread to discuss this... it's far too interesting to leave alone.

For me, Piers Anthony's Adept series was SciFi. So was more tedious works like Brave New World, and ever exciting The Crysalids (which I think would make an awesome movie). I suppose so was Farenheit 451, but it was more of a future painted by fascist oppression.

I think the major distinction in what we see as "real scifi" vs "fantasy scifi" is that the real is often NOT about the tech, but about the understanding the world we live in now by comparing situations to those which have some fundemental scientific fact altered. Generally this makes for less exciting story, but more thought provoking situations.

For instance, in "Children of Men" (the movie) it is sci-fi insofar as there was a scientific enigma which rendered the whole of human population barren, and there were those struggling to find out why. The story didn't concern itself with the altered reality, but instead was used to illustrate how the world might be different if you took away the mantra "Children are the Future". Suicide, for instance, was a granted right. The value of human life was unimportant, and refugees were second-class lifeforms. The world was very different by changing one given fact. Fiction covers this too though, so it's a matter of perspective.

Generally it's assumed that "futuristic" = SciFi as the technologies, no matter how mundane, have evolved. Dealing with alien cultures (Enemy Mine), or being ripped out of your own world into another (The Last Starfighter) is oddly the most destinctive difference. Movies like Eraser could be considered SciFi as they have advanced technology, but I'd almost say it's a feature rather than a fundamental shift in the world.

20 years ago SciFi wasn't commonplace, nowadays blockbuster movies tend to be either futureistic or fantasy in nature. The here-and-now movies aren't as commonplace. For instance, look at DejaVu. Totally SciFi, but not nearly as immersed in the "shift of reality" as something like Stargate.

Now, some may say (such as unbreakable in the original thread) that relying something like technobabble to seem "tech" and that a show/movie like Star Trek is more fantasy based... I can see where it's being used as a crutch, but the underlying fact is that we're dealing with extra-terrestrial life and cultures, and the base premise is that they have the technology to travel vast distances in a short period of time. This to me satisfies the SciFi designation, regardless of how some of it panders to the ignorance of its audience.

Star Wars is also the same thing, insofar as there is alien life and although they are transposing common stereotypes in our world onto their "cultures", it's still alien life, space travel and has living thinking droids etc. The fact that they have something called the Force could be construed as a Faith-Fiction, as it's the life-force that all living creatures have. They tried to shove that into the Science Fiction realm with the whole metallicorphans fiasco, but it all comes down to it being abilities we don't have. Telepathy based on will to me seems more scifi than magic; harnessing energies you're in tune with does not make you a magician.

Fantasy for me delves more into the mythology categories, where things that were rumoured to once exist now do.

I'd say typically this is how I see it (and this is not absolute; I can think of exceptions for both)
Fantasy=Past (or less-than modern times)
SciFi=Future (or more advanced than we are)

What do you think?

[/PeteRock post]
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 05:30:54 PM by Purge » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2007, 05:31:09 PM »

I shall simplify my opinion so as to make my point...

Fantasy = elves
Sci-Fi = lasers

Sci-Fi>Fantasy
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 05:34:24 PM »

What about Elves with Lasers?

Snap, Crackle and *fwzzzt*.
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 05:34:34 PM »

Quote from: Daehawk on July 24, 2007, 05:31:09 PM

I shall simplify my opinion so as to make my point...

Fantasy = elves
Sci-Fi = lasers

Sci-F=Fantasy

Fixed that for you  Tongue

I do agree that Fantasy or High Fantasy whatever you call it relates to Elves/Dragons and Medieval setting.  Sci-fi is more technology based and is set in the current or futire timeframe
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2007, 05:43:09 PM »

Scifi = Science.

Fantasy = Furries



Edit:  CeeKay, stop using my account.  Thanks.
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2007, 05:50:40 PM »

Quote from: Austin on July 24, 2007, 05:43:09 PM

Scifi = Science.
Fantasy = Furries

Edit:  CeeKay, stop using my account.  Thanks.

That explains the PM... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2007, 05:52:10 PM »

SciFi = Starcraft
Fantasy = Warcraft

In my book, SciFi wins by a freakin' landslide.
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2007, 06:06:24 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 24, 2007, 05:34:24 PM

What about Elves with Lasers?

Snap, Crackle and *fwzzzt*.

More like Snap Crackle Drizzt.
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2007, 06:07:22 PM »

I'd say fantasy deals with supernatural elements while sci-fi deals with advanced technology.
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2007, 06:07:40 PM »

For books, just look at the font for the title:

serif = fantasy
sans serif = sci-fi
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2007, 06:25:52 PM »

Quote from: unbreakable on July 24, 2007, 06:06:24 PM

Quote from: Purge on July 24, 2007, 05:34:24 PM

What about Elves with Lasers?

Snap, Crackle and *fwzzzt*.

More like Snap Crackle Drizzt.

Can i get some freakin elves with freakin lasers on their heads?
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2007, 06:53:43 PM »

Doesn't look like you're getting the discussion you wanted Purge.

There isn't as hard of a line between them, due to the softer social sciences.

What I regard as Science Fiction, is fiction that takes something that we know of current science and tells a tale that uses that science to illustrate something about something in our world, or our humanity and can also illustrate something about that science to the reader.

As such, Star Wars is space fantasy.  The aliens in Star wars may as well be trolls, hobgoblins and elves for all that it matters to the story.  Ditto with the Force and magic.  There is nothing in the story that really depends on science for it to tell the tale, and nothing to be learned of science by watching it.  This goes for a lot more of the stuff that is marketed as science fiction.

Star Trek (the original) is slightly different, as it delves more into the social sciences of how people and races get along and sought to tell us something about ourselves at the same time.  As such it falls into that fuzzy category, as it could as well take place in a fantasy universe, but the use of a race that acts based on logic rather than emotion, and the stories and character relationships that build around that pull it into the science fiction side, IMHO.  The episodic nature also lends itself to having some space fantasy episodes and some science fiction episodes, which makes the line tougher to draw.
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2007, 07:02:12 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 24, 2007, 05:26:51 PM

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For me, anything "in or from space" or time travel is Sci Fi and anything dealing with swords, magic and/or monsters is Fantasy.

Science Fiction
Star Wars
Star Trek
War of the Worlds
Dr. Who
Mass Effect
Flash Gordon
Buck Rogers
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Fantasy
The Dragonlance Chronicles
Lord of the Rings
Land of the Lost
The Princess Bride
Harry Potter
Godzilla
CHARMED
Conan

To name a brief few.
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2007, 08:59:03 PM »

I personally think sci-fi and fantasy are one in the same, and see no distinction.  It's ALL fantasy, imo.
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2007, 09:14:04 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 24, 2007, 05:26:51 PM

I'd say typically this is how I see it (and this is not absolute; I can think of exceptions for both)
Fantasy=Past (or less-than modern times)
SciFi=Future (or more advanced than we are)

Actually, this was what I was going to say (until you so nicely summed up everything by saying this).

SciFi = Science Fiction = stuff that is done with a technological level beyond our own (space ships, life on other planets, full featured AI, etc).

Fantasy = stuff that is generally done on a technological level below our own, and/or current day tech done with magic instead of machines (magic, medieval fighting, dragons, etc).

Generally, that covers the bases. There are exceptions though, don't get me wrong, but it works in my mind at least.
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2007, 09:27:46 PM »

Quote from: Interloper on July 24, 2007, 08:59:03 PM

I personally think sci-fi and fantasy are one in the same, and see no distinction.  It's ALL fantasy, imo.

That's actually something several scifi writers have opined.  When you are making a story, and it isn't specifically about the science but about either how people are effected by technology or some other social aspect, of course it will delve more into fantasy.  Since the author doesn't want to get bogged down in the science, he will just fudge it and occasionally reverse the polarity or whatever.

Also, when I say Star Trek uses technobabble, I'm generally speaking about the original series.  ST:TNG generally did a very good job of trying to get their science to bear a resemblance to the real thing, and often dealt with real phenomenon (like wormholes, time distortions, Dyson spheres, etc).  Space ships still traveled like they were in an atmosphere, however...
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2007, 10:05:47 PM »

Krull?
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« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2007, 11:54:31 PM »

Quote from: Starshifter on July 24, 2007, 07:02:12 PM

Quote from: Purge on July 24, 2007, 05:26:51 PM

[/PeteRock post]

 icon_lol icon_lol icon_lol

For me, anything "in or from space" or time travel is Sci Fi and anything dealing with swords, magic and/or monsters is Fantasy.

Science Fiction
Star Wars
Star Trek
War of the Worlds
Dr. Who
Mass Effect
Flash Gordon
Buck Rogers
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Fantasy
The Dragonlance Chronicles
Lord of the Rings
Land of the Lost
The Princess Bride
Harry Potter
Godzilla
CHARMED
Conan

To name a brief few.


Godzilla is not fantasy!  It was the freaking radiation from freaking atomic bombs!  How much more scientific can you get?

GODZILLA WILL STOMP YOU!


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« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2007, 11:59:28 PM »

Quote from: Jag on July 24, 2007, 10:05:47 PM

Krull?

DEFINITELY fantasy.
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« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2007, 12:04:28 AM »

Quote from: unbreakable on July 24, 2007, 11:59:28 PM

Quote from: Jag on July 24, 2007, 10:05:47 PM

Krull?

DEFINITELY fantasy.

yeah, those are magic missiles they shoot at the darkness.
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« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2007, 12:13:32 AM »

The problem is most people view anything with space ships or laser guns as scifi, and swords and magic as fantasy.  It's not about the setting, it's about how things work in the world/story, and also to a certain degree whether one of the themes is how science and/or technology effects the human experience.

For example, Minority Report isn't a story about the technology used to predict the future, it's about how society might react were such a thing possible, causality, and the effects of relying too much on technology.

That's why Star Wars is science fantasy.  If you take it out of the futuristic setting, much of it is as much about magic as Harry Potter.  It's magic being performed inside a futuristic setting.

I read one series, I can't remember the name, but I might consider it science fiction told in a fantasy setting.  It was somewhat like Sherlock Holmes if he were able to use magic- cases were solved using reason and deduction, and the magic had rigid rules it had to adhere to; many times magic was used as a means of forensics.
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« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2007, 03:14:49 AM »

To me, science fiction focus on the scientific theory first and foremost, the story second. Any story with plausible future sounding technology qualifies. For example, most of David Brin's space exploration books, Arthur C. Clarke's older novels, etc.

Most people think of swords and magic when they hear the word "fantasy", but you also need to lump in other stories that simply place a story in a fantastic surrounding, such as The Golden Compass, many of Clive Barker's non-horror novels, and even Harry Potter.

Then you also have the term science-fantasy to describe space type stories with bullshit technology (Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc.)
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« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2007, 03:19:59 AM »

Quote from: unbreakable on July 25, 2007, 12:13:32 AM

That's why Star Wars is science fantasy.  If you take it out of the futuristic setting, much of it is as much about magic as Harry Potter.  It's magic being performed inside a futuristic setting.

it's not magic, it's midichlorines.......    icon_wink
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« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2007, 11:49:07 PM »

I believe it was Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle who opined that the first science fiction was Dante's Inferno.  They posited that Dante took what was at the time the cutting edge of the leading science of the time (theology) and wrote a story exploring some of the ramifications and thought surrounding that science.  Niven and Pournelle then wrote a great book going back to Dante's Inferno with a Science Fiction writer as the protagonist in an updated vision of the circles of hell.
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« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2007, 11:52:52 PM »

Quote from: unbreakable on July 25, 2007, 12:13:32 AM

I read one series, I can't remember the name, but I might consider it science fiction told in a fantasy setting.  It was somewhat like Sherlock Holmes if he were able to use magic- cases were solved using reason and deduction, and the magic had rigid rules it had to adhere to; many times magic was used as a means of forensics.

I think you're referring to the Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett
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« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2007, 01:22:27 AM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on July 25, 2007, 11:52:52 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on July 25, 2007, 12:13:32 AM

I read one series, I can't remember the name, but I might consider it science fiction told in a fantasy setting.  It was somewhat like Sherlock Holmes if he were able to use magic- cases were solved using reason and deduction, and the magic had rigid rules it had to adhere to; many times magic was used as a means of forensics.

I think you're referring to the Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett

Yes, thanks, that was it!  I'll order the book you linked to, I never did read that entire series.
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« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2007, 01:38:46 PM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on July 25, 2007, 11:49:07 PM

I believe it was Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle who opined that the first science fiction was Dante's Inferno.  They posited that Dante took what was at the time the cutting edge of the leading science of the time (theology) and wrote a story exploring some of the ramifications and thought surrounding that science.  Niven and Pournelle then wrote a great book going back to Dante's Inferno with a Science Fiction writer as the protagonist in an updated vision of the circles of hell.
See, yeah, I'd place that under fantasy, because it's not based in science at all. That's an interesting idea though. I just don't think you can count the church as science (although it may have been equivalent at the time) since it wasn't rooted in actual science at all.
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« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2007, 01:44:24 PM »

The bible is a work of fantasy fiction?

/runs
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« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2007, 01:47:15 PM »

This is the end of the line, Megatron.
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« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2007, 03:28:34 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 26, 2007, 01:44:24 PM

The bible is a work of fantasy fiction?

/runs

That is a valid point, though- it gets to the heart of what I'm saying.  To just say an effect is caused by some unknown/unknowable medium is fantasy.  The only difference between Star Trek with the Genesis Bomb, and The Bible with Genesis (the book, not the band) is the space ships.  The Genesis Bomb doesn't even seem like it would be realistically viable.

Also, and this is absolutely NOT a knock against it, but much of what happens in Super Hero fiction is fantasy, even though they often get the physics right.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2007, 03:33:10 PM by unbreakable » Logged
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