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oooh, SF vs. fantasy debate

In Kij's journal, someone said that fantasy "can be much more exciting and forward looking and world-rocking than SF, because it isn't bounded in the same way." I had to argue, of course. Lemme know what you think:

SF isn't bounded by anything except the requirements of internal logic, as is good fantasy. And I think SF has the potential to have a greater effect on the world because much of it is realistic -- that is, we can extrapolate from the now into the vision of the SF story and see how we might be affected by change or how we must act to enact or avoid that change. Most of fantasy is about the individual or clan, whereas most of SF is about the human species; though perhaps told from the pov of an individual, what happens in an SF story is seldom limited to that one individual.

Future stories, for example, by definition are about change and the human species' survival into that future. Stories where people can travel from star to star are similarly powerful. Historical stories tell little about what is to come, though they can be about the moments when things changed (and that makes 'em appeal to SF readers). That's why alternate history is so popular among SF readers, or stories about inventors -- sure, I write mostly SF, but my next story (Plug: coming out next month in the Synergy SF anthology) is an alternate history about Cyrano. What makes it SF (though it's a story about faith) is that it's the moment when the world changed... though it's not our past.

Best,
Chris

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
orin2
Jul. 15th, 2004 06:33 pm (UTC)
I think SF and Fantasy tend to deal with two different themes. I think that SF is a "hard" themed genre. By that I mean SF is about what could happen in the future and mostly deals with "things" such as technology or the future of the race. Fantasy, in my novice experience, tends to deal with more "personal" themes. Redemption of a person, coming of age for a person, how one person can change. These are the themes I see most often in Fantasy. As a very prolific reader I usually find the Fantasy to be more appealing. Perhaps it is because I am so jaded with where our future is going that I don't find SF to be very redeeming. On the other hand, fantasy provides me with the escapism I am looking for. *shrug* I once wrote a SF short story for the Writer's Workshop about a little boy and I am still proud of that piece however I now feel that I will one day write a fantasy novel inestead of a SF novel. Why? I'm still figuring it out but I think it is because of the themes I feel are associated with each genre. Just my uneducated two cents.
blzblack
Jul. 15th, 2004 08:30 pm (UTC)
Both can be absorbed internally or on a micro level, but SF has the advantage of a macro level approach that can be only be utilized to a lesser extent in fantasy--not to mention further ramifications of SF inspiring and in some ways preparing scientists for their future occupations.

The problem with SF is that it has too many levels to work on. Often it sticks to its singular assets--the macro--which is fine unless that flops in which case there's little appeal to the story.

I've started commenting on this generally here but will expand upon it when I get around to blogging about the conference directly:

http://s1ngularity.blogspot.com/2004_07_11_s1ngularity_archive.html#108989495920240560
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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