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Author Topic: Defining Fantasy  (Read 6185 times)

Offline OneChapterMore

Defining Fantasy
« on: January 18, 2011, 05:19:34 PM »
How would you define 'fantasy'?

My Personal interpretation is stolen from Lisa Tuttle - 'The impossible being possible through no explained reason' - however, this includes Magic Realism in its grasp, as well as some aspects of other genres (Horror, some SF) - anyone have a better or different opinion, opr just want to argue :D?
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Offline Overlord

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 06:00:07 AM »
Hmmm, I always think Fantasy is impossible characters and/or settings. I.e. they are not human or they have powers that we could not possibly have, the world is not possible according to our science... etc. Science Fiction I always see as something that 'is' possible but is either too far in the future to tell or is an alternate history.
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Offline Zziz

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 06:37:21 AM »
Anything that occurs outside the boundaries of reality and within the indeterminate reaches of imagination.

Offline missoularedhead

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 08:47:24 AM »
I'd have to agree that it's outside reality and without explanation.  Sci fi has an explanation, even if it's tech we don't have yet.
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline OneChapterMore

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 10:22:31 AM »
In which case, are we counting Magic Realism ( Alice Carter, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Gunter Grass, Haruki Murakami and the like) as fantasy? Also, does this not incorporate many Horror books into it (e.g. Stephen King, Dean Koontz?)
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I ramble with Lor and The Idlewilder at Rambling Through Genre

"I have within me all the dreams of the world"
- Fernando Pessoa

Offline Overlord

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 10:31:49 AM »
I'd have to agree that it's outside reality and without explanation.  Sci fi has an explanation, even if it's tech we don't have yet.

Probably the most simple and yet accurate explanation I have seen :)
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Offline Noona

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 10:47:54 AM »
I don't try to define it, but I consider dragons to be a big clue :P

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 03:47:43 PM »
Hmmm, I always think Fantasy is impossible characters and/or settings. I.e. they are not human or they have powers that we could not possibly have, the world is not possible according to our science... etc. Science Fiction I always see as something that 'is' possible but is either too far in the future to tell or is an alternate history.

Yup, pretty much what Overlord said. :)  To me fantasy is something that is not possible.  Sci-fi is something that might be possible in the future. :)

Offline frankiehunter

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 05:26:48 PM »
Fantasy is your first flight with Saphira, fighting next to people of Rohan in Helm's Deep, watching Kyler killing the Godking and exploring the Fangorn Forrest.
It's every stunning sunrise in Kyralia, Gondor or Cenaria.
It's every kiss Aragorn gets from Arwen and every kiss Vi wanted so badly from Kyler and never got.
It's everything that is impossible and nothing that is possible.
Nothing's true - anything is allowed!

Offline Tiffany Kysis Tackett

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 01:52:47 AM »
Fantasy is your first flight with Saphira, fighting next to people of Rohan in Helm's Deep, watching Kyler killing the Godking and exploring the Fangorn Forrest.
It's every stunning sunrise in Kyralia, Gondor or Cenaria.
It's every kiss Aragorn gets from Arwen and every kiss Vi wanted so badly from Kyler and never got.
It's everything that is impossible and nothing that is possible.


I must say, I love this description of it.

Offline missoularedhead

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 05:35:25 AM »
I agree.  That description is quite lovely…poetic even!
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline pornokitsch

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 12:08:32 PM »
How would you define 'fantasy'?

My Personal interpretation is stolen from Lisa Tuttle - 'The impossible being possible through no explained reason' - however, this includes Magic Realism in its grasp, as well as some aspects of other genres (Horror, some SF) - anyone have a better or different opinion, opr just want to argue :D?

I quite like that.

I don't think overlap with Horror/SF/Magical Realism is a problem. Something can be a scary fantasy (e.g. The Stand or The Passage). Or a fantasy in space (e.g. Star Wars). Or fantasy that's pretending it isn't fantasy so lit-fic readers buy a copy (Magical Realism).

Offline tadk

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 01:21:24 PM »
I forget where I read this distinction, still it is the one I use the most

Fantasy is about Characters
Science Fiction is about Cultures

Using that definition almost all I write is Fantasy, despite what ever Technological Trappings I festoon it with.

Offline KomalJV

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 02:48:31 PM »
Wow, the definitions are really interesting. It never occurred to be to use words like 'possible' and 'impossible' - they almost seem kind of useless terms, in a way, IMO, simply because Fantasy operates outside of them. Does that make sense?  ???

Fantasy - for me - is anything that has a real supernatural element to it, an existence of an 'Otherworld'. Whatever happens in that world goes but it always attaches itself to *some* concept of reality as we know it.

But ultimately, it springs out of another level of imagination and I think mythology has a huge part to play in defining this genre.

Darn, its hard to define.
Only in our darkest places, we find our brightest light

Offline MTMaenpaa

Re: Defining Fantasy
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 09:04:56 PM »
I forget where I read this distinction, still it is the one I use the most

Fantasy is about Characters
Science Fiction is about Cultures

Using that definition almost all I write is Fantasy, despite what ever Technological Trappings I festoon it with.

I would argue that.  Science Fiction can be highly character driven (see Ender's Game) and Fantasy can spend a rather superfluous amount of time dwelling on anthropological studies (Tolkien, Erikson)

I think defining Fantasy is as easy as one word: Magic.  All Fantasy works, from Murakami to Lilith Saint Crow, accept and embrace the existence of Magic in the world.  If not from the character's perspective, then in the author's mind.  If not Magic directly, then things of a magical or impossible nature.

Anything past that...getting down to brass tacks, its just argument.  High fantasy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal chick smut.  Its all flavors of ice cream.  Fantasy is ice cream.  I guess that would make Science Fiction pie or something.
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