A Matter of Perspective
Science fiction and fantasy –two very different genres. Or are they? In one hand, fantasy deals with the fantastical and magic. On the other hand, sci-fi deals with the technology and science. Fantasy is about what could never be; Sci-Fi is about what could be. One deals with the impossible and the other with what may be possible. Accordingly, they both seem like complete opposites.
Again, are they so different?
They both handle big ideas and concepts. Moreover, they both deal with what I call ‘What if?’ type of stories. Indeed, science fiction and fantasy dare to go places other literature won’t go. For this reason, despite their differences, they are similar. It may be a matter of perspective, but after all, they both rely on the power to stimulate its readers’ imagination.
Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Are they two sides of the same coin? How similar are sci-fi and fantasy? Let’s explore it further.
For example, it was British author Arthur C. Clarke who said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Granted, if we were to travel a century into the past using today’s technology, we will probably be considered wizards. (Time traveling wizards sounds like a good idea, but sadly the Flash comic books did it first).
But what about the actual literature? Both Sci-Fi and Fantasy are works of fiction who share some commonalities. By and large, they both require a suspension of disbelief. In the hands of a master storyteller, the reader gets transported to worlds unlike their own, yet recognizable.
Furthermore, neither one deals with reality or what’s real. They deal with perceptions of reality. So what if one perception of reality features dragons and the other one robots? Worldbuilding is paramount for both genres.
The writer controls the rules of the world they build. If he or she fails at worldbuilding, the story does not work and falls flat. Speculative fiction readers can be so demanding. But the level of involvement required from the reader is higher than other fiction.
In my (partisan) opinion, Sci-Fi and Fantasy readers are the most open minded readers there are.
So, Are they Alike?
Yes and no. Granted, sometimes they merge or blur the lines. Some subgenres like Slipstream and Dying Earth do it well. But they exist within their own tropes and rules. They share some similarities but they also different enough from each other.
Regardless of similarities, I love to enjoy each for what they each offer. Namely the chance to transport us to worlds full of adventure and possibility.
Besides, it is possible to enjoy both and be a fan of both.
Agreed? Disagree? Share in the comments.