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Sci-Fri

Sci-Fri is a new series of Friday articles on science fiction, primarily by myself, Max Edwards, with other contributors occasionally. What has science fiction got to do with fantasy? Well my first article, Is Sci-Fi Literature?, explains.

The Inexorable Link Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

Well, let’s start, as all good arguments do, with a definition. Dictionary.com call fantasy:

The faculty or activity of imagining things that are impossible or improbable.

Using this definition we can see why science fiction fits, alongside horror and fantasy, in the fantastic spectrum of genres, which we will call speculative fiction. The two have a long history together, starting truly from the pulp stories of the early 20s. Of course, there was speculative fiction before this, the tradition that dates back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the myths and legends of the dawn of civilisation, but the 1920s and beyond are the true emerging of genre fiction as separate identities.

Even so, from H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to Anne McCaffery and Ursula K. Le Guin to George R. R. Martin and China Mieville, the conglomeration of fantasy and science fiction in the works of authors continues, regardless of time of writing. Authors and readers alike are attracted to both. Obviously, some are inclined toward one more than the other, but they are certainly bedfellows, in their impossibility or improbability, and in their exploration of theme through use of reality through a kaleidoscopic lens.

The two genres are fluid, multifaceted, with many subgenres, and some share particular elements. Evidenced by the likes of China Mieville and Richard Morgan’s works, and the influence of cross-cultural media, the lines between the two are steadily getting more and more blurred, going full circle from Lovecraftian fiction via the very separate strata of the ‘Golden Age’ of science fiction, with the likes of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein and its contemporary, The Lord of the Rings.

I think the similarities are best summed up by the great Ursula Le Guin’s definitions of the two separate genres:

Fantasy is the impossible made possible by means of the supernatural.
Science fiction is the impossible made possible by means of logic.

The impossible made possible. The wonders of speculative fiction. We know you well.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Autumn2May says:

    I was always a fantasy lover, but as a kid I read a lot of sci-fi, because my dad is a sci-fi buff. I don’t think I realized there was non-genre stories until we started reading novels in school! XD Great article! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Avatar JM Frey says:

    Hello Max;

    Great little post, and I think you make a great distinction. From one Sci Fri to another, great idea for a Friday series!

    –JM “Sci” Frey
    Author of “Triptych”

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