Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Contributor
miah
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎11-12-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

I believe that fantasy is when there are animals like dragons brownies and shapeshifters. I believe that would be books like Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring. To me science fiction is if the story is when it fantasy but it is either science based or has things like traveling into the future like star treck, or star wars. So to me they should be near each other but not mixed together. To me I probably like just fantasy better but science fiction I really like it.
New User
shortlink
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎12-07-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

I think Orson Scott Card said that SciFi is based on real world laws (i.e. physics), where Fantasy the writer can create their own law in their own universe. It doesn't preclude mixing, but one will have to be the dominate rule.
A lot of fantasy does seem to also focus on majic or powers, where SciFi has a lot of technology, espically space travel.

I find SciFi to be able to address contemporary issues better than Fantasy. An ideal example are the Outer Limits TV series, where basicaly short stories are woven to show a consequence of decision or direction. Fantasy tends to lean heavely on the "good vs. evil" model a bit too much.

Shortlink
Contributor
marla16
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

I've read both Fantasy and SciFi. The only difference between the two is, fantasy has creatures that don't exist in this world. There are some animals in fantasy that are base on real living animals. Take an example the Two Horn Orxy if you look at there head side ways there horns look like a unicorn's horn. SciFi deals with the future with new tech and the same problems we have now.
New User
dieselgirl615
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-13-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

[ Edited ]
I can't believe a discussion involving the genre of science fiction has only brought up "Ender's Game."  Has anyone who replied read Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, or Philip K. Dick?
 
In my opinion, I loathe the fact that fantasy and science fiction are on the same shelves.  The two genres should be completely separated.  Novels involving elves and hobbits have no business sitting next to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
 
In the last issue of Wired, Clive Thompson states that science fiction "is the last bastion of philosophical writing."  In the article, he says sci fi authors "rewrite one or two basic rules about society and then examine how humanity responds."  The key word here is "humanity."
 
Science fiction deals with humans and our reality and physical universe.  While fantasy may have humans as characters, it doesn't take into account the rules of the universe in which humans exist.  Sci fi looks at the present then fast forwards our wealth of knowledge and accomplishments, usually based on scientific laws or theory, and speculates how society will react.  Or in some cases, rewinds history, changes outcomes, such as that of a war, and speculates how it would have changed humans and society.
 
To say that the only differences between science fiction and fantasy are science or magic, elves or aliens, Earth or Middle-Earth, is almost an insult to the genre of science fiction.  I agree that not all sci fi is profound philosophical speculations but the part that is, is quite exciting and sometimes scary.  Take "Neuromancer" by William Gibson which was written in 1984.  Gibson envisioned the internet, called it "the matrix," (no, the Wachowski brothers were not the first ones to come up that term) and the affects of true artificial intelligence on a futuristic society.  Almost 25 years later, it is almost alarming to realize what was once speculation in a ground breaking novel is now reality.  Since I am not a fantasy reader, I would like to know if any fantasy novel can claim an effect like that.
 
 


Message Edited by dieselgirl615 on 02-13-2008 11:15 PM
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

The two genre are on the same shelves because they constantly blur. Heinlein SciFi, Read "the number of the beast" where Oz is a real world solely on the strength of beliefs. I've yet to read a Zelazny book where he separates them, knights in plate pulling ray guns. C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine saga, sorcerers that use Tech gates to other worlds. Many authors write in both. Howard - Conan fantasy, Solomon Kane revolvers. Moorcock didn't care if a character used a sword or a ray gun.
Both genres are a step away for everyday reality. That's what separates theme from everyday fiction. The two occupies the same auditorium, some books sit on the far left, some on the far right, and some books like the middle seats.
New User
Glittersword
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎04-23-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

[ Edited ]
The genres being in the same auditorium is a valid analogy.  I've always considered both of these genres as "Super-Genres" as they are backgrounds in which other genres can be set.  I.E. "Science-Fiction/Mystery"
 
Sometimes in the middle of the auditorium it is hard to tell which one they belong in.  I believe you can have the same creatures represented in two different books and come off with a diferent answer in both books.  Because in either case what matters is not the rules of our universe insomuch as the law of nature in their universe.  If the effect is contrary to those basic laws then it is magic.  If in accord, it is Science.  For clarification I will use the Green Lanterns that was mentioned previously.  The Green Lanterns in their realm is Science.  true it seems mystical but it is based on the technology of a species far in advance of our present day understanding.  There has been a quote I belive that goes something along the lines of "Beyond a certain point magic and technology is interchangable"  I would add that it is even more so interchangable b  lower the technological level of the viewer/reporter.  For this I bring your attention to the Cargo Cults that sprang up on Islands during/after WWII.  They didn't understand and up popped a new set of gods.
 
My favorite novels are the ones that meld the two poles of Sci-Fi and Fantasy effectively.
 
Anne Macaffrey:  Genetically Engineered Telepathic Fire Breathing Dragons.  Definitely Sci-Fi, but it would be hard to tell (or easy to miss) in the first trilogy.
 
Julian May:  Psychics and time travel to the distant past.  But the level of ability of the psychics was such it could me mistaken for magic.
 
Lazaras in the bible's fantastic lifespan could be easily explained in a book by having him moved through time by some agency so he skipped a lot of the intervening years.  For example if he wasn't seen for a copupe days in a row, who could say he was there for those couple of days.  Maybe he was, Maybe he wasn't.  Enough small gaps could add up to one heffty lifespan.


Message Edited by Glittersword on 05-11-2008 01:22 PM
Contributor
Althalus
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎01-10-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Well that is not entirely true. For the most part Fantasy Lit is told in a mythological world but most of the concepts and ideas are firmly grounded in the real world. It just adds Magic to make it more interesting and to do some impossible things.

For Science Fiction you got fairly good. Star Trek is not so much Fantasy now that science has progressed and actually has theories to explain more of it. Now Star Wars is definitely Science Fantasy. More importantly is that Science fiction is a way to explore our society in new ways but in a harmless medium (the future), such great works as 1984 and the stories of Ray Bradberry are good examples of that.

Now in general the line between Science Fiction and Fantasy is really incredibly fine, to almost none existent at times. Some authors do this in very annoying ways like the Shannara Series and the Dragon Riders or Pern. Even those that attempt to create stories that are extremes of either Fantasy or Science Fiction have similarities...and I won't go into them because there is a reason I did not become an English Major.
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Personally I like it where the line blurs.
Correspondent
Clippership14
Posts: 382
Registered: ‎07-12-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

[ Edited ]
Ditto.
 
You can also look at it this way: Hundreds of years ago if you were to tell a medieval peasant about life in our present day world they would consider this more of a fantasy not science-fiction. Why? Because the scientific steps to get to where we are now would be beyond his wildest dreams and beliefs. People walking around communicating through strange boxes wouldn't be conceived as a scientific form of progress. Rather the peasant would think of the boxes as "magical". It's the same with the other technologies we consider commonplace today. We know it is science and the peasant should think of it as science fiction, but it depends on perspective. That isn't to say someday we will have access to the Force or sprout wings or harness "magic". But what is "magic"? Used in the fantasy setting it is someone wielding supernatural forces in a mystical way. Someone who knows the physics behind the same process and can yield the same or similar result is called a scientist. You have to keep things in context. There are most definitely straight fantasy novels and straight science fiction. But you can't deny the existence of the hybrids. The beauty of the hybrids is that an author can take more than one genre and meld them together in a way that works (and yes, not all authors do make it work, but the number of authors who can is increasing). It's fiction no matter what the genre tag says.


Message Edited by Clippership14 on 05-14-2008 02:07 PM
Frequent Contributor
M-Elffriend
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎09-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Well said, I prefer fantasy as it can go anywhere. Science has restraints on it but a good imagination lifts the restraints and makes it work . But if it is mostly imagination with a good explanation is it not after all actually fanasy. Or perhaps fantasci  ( ha ha )
Author Lord Emberstone's Quest www.lordemberstonesquest.com
Wordsmith
Capuchin
Posts: 250
Registered: ‎05-17-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

There's an old saying that any sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic.
 
That's what really blurs the line between sf and f -- what is fantasy one day is science fiction the next.
 
For me, the difference, if it's important that there is one, is how many characters can use the power/tool/whatever.
 
In sf, anyone can fire a blaster, pilot a spaceship, or download data.
 
In f, one magician cannot use another's wand, you have to be of the right bloodline before a dragon will let you ride him, and you have to be born with the gift to hear what the wind and rocks are saying.
 
That's obviously gross oversimplification, but the sf=anyone, f=special person holds up well over a wide range.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -- Robert Heinlein
Frequent Contributor
Skyler97
Posts: 38
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

I liked Weiss and Hickman's "Starsheild" series which was a blend of the two genre's.  Depending on what kind of Zone you were in in space either the laws of physical science or the laws of magic prevailed.  Alas, the third book in the series will probably never be published.
Frequent Contributor
Deb1789
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎06-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction



dieselgirl615 wrote:
 
In my opinion, I loathe the fact that fantasy and science fiction are on the same shelves.  The two genres should be completely separated.  Novels involving elves and hobbits have no business sitting next to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
 
In the last issue of Wired, Clive Thompson states that science fiction "is the last bastion of philosophical writing."  In the article, he says sci fi authors "rewrite one or two basic rules about society and then examine how humanity responds."  The key word here is "humanity."
 
Science fiction deals with humans and our reality and physical universe.  While fantasy may have humans as characters, it doesn't take into account the rules of the universe in which humans exist.  Sci fi looks at the present then fast forwards our wealth of knowledge and accomplishments, usually based on scientific laws or theory, and speculates how society will react.  Or in some cases, rewinds history, changes outcomes, such as that of a war, and speculates how it would have changed humans and society.
 
 
 


Message Edited by dieselgirl615 on 02-13-2008 11:15 PM

Sci-Fi and Fantasy are not as different as you seem to think.  Though fantasy has its Creatures, this is usualy used as an exageration of racial and/or cultural differences.  All of them act and react humanly, or at least no more inhumanly than some humans.  And don't you forget that Sci-Fi uses aliens to the same pourpose.
 
Fantasy is the ultimate rewind, you don't go back a few centuries and change a battle to see what happens.  You go back to the Beggining.  You babysit evolution, cultural devolpement, and everything else.  You create the rules by which these people will function, you give them what powers you will.  Then you sit back and watch what happens.  What would Man do with the near infinite power of magic?  Why?  How would Gods who are physically present (like in Greek Myths for example) effect a society?  An individual in that society?
The Fantasy writer simply as moved further from reality than Sci-fi, but we still deal with people.
 
And tell me, are andriods more or less human than elves?
 
 


Sci-fi and fantasy are not so different as you seem to think. 
I don't suffer from Insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Sci-Fi and Fantasy are not as different as you seem to think. Though fantasy has its Creatures, this is usualy used as an exageration of racial and/or cultural differences. All of them act and react humanly, or at least no more inhumanly than some humans. And don't you forget that Sci-Fi uses aliens to the same pourpose.
Fantasy is the ultimate rewind, you don't go back a few centuries and change a battle to see what happens. You go back to the Beggining. You babysit evolution, cultural devolpement, and everything else. You create the rules by which these people will function, you give them what powers you will. Then you sit back and watch what happens. What would Man do with the near infinite power of magic? Why? How would Gods who are physically present (like in Greek Myths for example) effect a society? An individual in that society?
The Fantasy writer simply as moved further from reality than Sci-fi, but we still deal with people.
And tell me, are andriods more or less human than elves?
-------------------------------------------------------
Not entirely true.
A great deal of creatures in fantasy are based on mythology(Hmm, other religions, folks).
Sometime writers use them for purpose of shading humanity, sometimes not.
History rewind is called Alternative History, it has it's own subgenre.
Both SciFi and Fantasy are 2 or more steps from reality.
But the bit of androids and elves, true.
Wordsmith
Capuchin
Posts: 250
Registered: ‎05-17-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

>A great deal of creatures in fantasy are based on mythology(Hmm, other religions, folks).<
 
Every sf creation also has a basis in mythology.
 
Robots are golems.
Aliens are ogres, elves, trolls, fairies etc. (which one depends on their ugly/cute and fiendish/friendly ratios).
Spaceships are the chariots of the gods, moonbeams which carry you to heaven, etc..
Ray guns are Thor's thunderbolts, etc.
etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseam
 
Scenario: A character sees things far off, calls on others to do his bidding, and causes a city to be destroyed. 
 
For fantasy, the wizard is looking into a crystal ball, calling up demons, and unleashing the fires of the netherworld.
 
For sf, the alien is using his PDA to access satellite images, programming a battle computer, and launching an air strike.
 
All sf can be rewritten as fantasy and almost all fantasy can be rewritten as sf. 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -- Robert Heinlein
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

All sf can be rewritten as fantasy and almost all fantasy can be rewritten as sf.
--------------------
Exactly!
Contributor
cfite
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Where do books involving ghosts fit in? Science Fiction or Fantasy or either? I ask this because I love reading books about ghosts, ghost hunting or hauntings.

One book in particular that I can think of is City of Masks by Daniel Hecht. It is the first book in the Cree Black Series. Cree Black is a paranormal investigator. Using scientific technologies, historical research, and psychology, Cree and her colleagues investigate claims of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena and try to help the living cope with troubling and inexplicable experiences. (Great read by the way!)

When I purchased the book, I found it listed as a Mystery Thriller. However, dealing with ghost hauntings throws a serious curve in my mind.

Any ideas?
C.Fite

"The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle." - Stephen King, in the foreword of Night Shift.
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Where do books involving ghosts fit in? Science Fiction or Fantasy or either? I ask this because I love reading books about ghosts, ghost hunting or hauntings.
-----------------------------------------------
Good question. One those of hanging out in paranormal, that we never bother to ask.
Wordsmith
Capuchin
Posts: 250
Registered: ‎05-17-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

If drawing a line between science fiction and fantasy is hard, defining what makes a 'ghost story' is impossible -- it's too subjective.
 
In a true ghost story, every character would be a ghost (or, if you want to be politically correct: post-living or living-impaired person) and only their thoughts/actions/environment would be shown. If you're an absolute purist, it must also be published posthumously.
 
If a novel doesn't meet that criteria, where do you draw the line?
Does only the main character have to be a ghost?
Does a ghost have to be pivotal to the plot/conflict/resolution?
Does there even have to be a ghost, or does the protagonist only have to believe that there is one?
Where do books like The Haunting of Hill House fall? (If I remember correctly, there isn't specifically a post-living person as a ghost, but the house itself is an evil entity.)
 
Lacking any objective standards, I think ghost stories have to be categorized by the book's general type -- is it horror, comedy, thriller, non-fiction, etc..
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -- Robert Heinlein
Contributor
cfite
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Good points made. Thanks!
C.Fite

"The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle." - Stephen King, in the foreword of Night Shift.