Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fantasy Versus Science-Fiction?

Found the link to this essay, Fantasy vs. Science-Fiction, over at The Bibliophile Stalker, who promptly gives his rebuttal in Never Fantasy Vs. Science-Fiction.

An excerpt from the former:

Fantasy is about a small, simple, magical world. This is the world of the child, but also the world of the past. Looking back things become simple and romanticized. The concept of the Golden Age is as old as we are.

Fantasy worlds operate as cartoonish backdrops for personal dramas and interpersonal narratives. There is often little explanation of how things work or any real consciousness of the larger objective reality. There is a narrowness of perspective that often dictates a flatness and reliance on cliche that relegates fantasy narratives to the ghetto of genre fiction. Fantasy narratives like The Lord of the Rings occasionally break out and do something impressive, but only by taking on greater reality and connection to the real world. Much of LoTR is inspired directly by Anglo-Saxon and Germanic history and much of its resonance is due to its connection to this world, also referred to as “Middle Earth” in Norse myth.

Science-fiction is about the future from the perspective of the present. It is not really about the future itself. This is why science-fiction often ages badly. Science-fiction seeks to enlarge the compass of the known. It is speculative. And, in speculating it is often laughably wrong. But, it also points the way and suggests possibilities for how the present could develop along its current course. Science-fiction is prophetic where fantasy is sentimental. Science-fiction, since it encourages a more broad perspective, is more creative and interesting. Fantasy is referential and narrow and as soon as it becomes unmoored from cliche it ceases to be fantasy and becomes science-fiction or speculative fiction.

An excerpt from the latter (to whose side I lean, frankly):

As someone who's read a lot of fantasy and science fiction (admittedly more of the former than the latter), one can't make sweeping generalizations of either. There's lots of material in both that spawn numerous genres and sub-genres, in addition to interstitial work that cross boundaries and accepted definitions. What might be true of one title might be the opposite in another. Suffice to say, while I have guidelines for what constitutes fantasy or science fiction, they are not parameters set in stone and chances are, have been subverted by various authors.

So it's a pet peeve of mine when I come across an essay entitled Fantasy vs. Science-fiction. While there are possibly good arguments for the fantasy vs. science fiction debate, this article isn't one of them. In fact, it is, in many ways, contradictory. For example, in the second paragraph, it describes Lord of the Rings as "regressive and nostalgic" but praises the same series in the third paragraph, stating "Fantasy narratives like The Lord of the Rings occasionally break out and do something impressive..." Make up your mind, will you. Is Lord of the Rings praise-worthy or not? Even worse is the numerous exemptions the authors make, especially when it comes to science fiction...


Blogger Vanessa Baldicanas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Vanessa Baldicanas said...

I'm Vanessa Baldicañas, a student writer. I'm currently writing an article regarding science-fiction here in the country. I am interested on your opinion regarding this. Would you mind answering some of my questions?
Sorry if it'll be a little informal.
You can contact me through my e-mail account(
Hope for your speedy reply. Thanks!

9:38 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi, Vanessa. Okay, I'll send you an email. TY.

12:00 PM  

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