Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Rationality" Sets Science Fiction Apart From Fantasy

Via PGS contributor, Dominique Cimafranca: "Rationality" Sets Science Fiction Apart From Fantasy (as seen on Biology In Science Fiction). An excerpt:

It's kind of fun to try to imagine the classics of fantasy rewritten as science fiction. In the Lord of the Rings the One Ring could have been fabricated in a laboratory by a mad genius scientist, rather than forged in the heat of a volcano by a powerful wizard. In the Harry Potter novels, the horcruxes would be computer devices for storing copies of Lord Voldemort's uploaded mind, rather than magical devices used to hide "a part of his soul for the purpose of attaining immortality". But while the plot and characters might stay essentially the same in such a re-genred novel, that shift from magical devices to objects developed through science and technology represents a significant difference in world view.

What sets science fiction apart from fantasy is not just the tropes of the genre – future or extraterrestrial setting, space travel, advanced technology or scientific discoveries. It also the underlying assumption that the universe is controlled by natural mechanisms, rather than supernatural forces. Even though a sufficiently advanced technology may be indistinguishable from magic, such a technology must have been created through the application of scientific principals. And as speculative as that technology or the science it is based on might be, it's a feat that humans could hope to achieve. Magic, on the other hand, can exist only in the realm of fiction.


Blogger Will said...

Interesting, thanks a lot for this!

9:02 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Will: You're welcome!

2:47 PM  

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