Author Topic: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?  (Read 1369 times)

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Offline Ah.hell

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So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« on: January 03, 2018, 12:12:51 PM »
For me, sci fi needs to be mostly based in reality with mostly scientifically plausible explanations for the not currently feasible elements except the following gimmes:

A.  Faster than light travel
B.  Psychic powers if they aren't too overwhelming. 

For tv and film only:
C.  Accommodations for budget,
D.  Aliens that are just people with make up
E.  Everybody speaking the same language/Babel Fish. 

What do you all say?

What to think of speculative fiction that doesn't have much or any advanced technology but really just explores social situations?

Say, if something like 1984 were written today.  There isn't much in the way of technology that we couldn't replicate now but it is a world that is drastically different that what we have now. 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 12:36:40 PM by Ah.hell »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 12:31:12 PM »
I guess everybody already knows my view on this: I agree with the above except that your "gimme's" push it into fantasy for me. Fiction, broadly speaking, are stories that could have been real, under different circumstances. Science fiction is fiction that includes technologies that are actually possible but either don't yet exist or are exotic. Fantasy is anything that is not possible in the real world and therefore happens in a make-believe world.
Daniel
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Offline 2397

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 05:18:13 PM »
My preference is to not go along with something that we know is wrong, for the sake the plot. Sci-fi or otherwise, if it's set in our reality, it should follow our laws of nature.

I want tranquilizer darts to not work instantaneously. If the plot requires stopping someone dead (without killing them), that's not the way to do it. If you want to blow up a shark, maybe the focus of the story should be someone's psychotic obsession with sharks, instead of the nature of sharks.

A.  Faster than light travel
B.  Psychic powers if they aren't too overwhelming.

I have more of an issue with B, in particular because there's rarely an explanation for how it works. They might throw in something about evolution, as if a few more generations of human evolution is going to lead to something that's never been observed in any other life form. And the 10% of the brain myth.

In the show Dark Matter, which has lots of sci-fi aspects that I like, what's most out of place is the group of people who can predict the future (to a high degree of accuracy), apparently just by using their brains. No mention of a massive surveillance network, or other means of keeping track of events in the galaxy.

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 05:28:34 PM »
I get where you're coming from and don't have a very good reason for letting psychic powers get a pass except I like most of Larry Niven's N Space books.

I have a love hate relationship with dark matter, its really not that good but I still keep watching because I'll watch almost anything labelled sci fi. 

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 05:35:17 PM »
If they use technology, it's sci-fi. If they use spiritual, or mystical energy then it's fantasy. I also consider horror to be horror, though it's all mostly fantasy (excepting Alien, which I think of as more sci-fi horror).

I'm willing to abide that superhero movies are some combination of technology and wizardry, though I think they generally adhere to their own genre as well.

When writing a film, it's useful to think of conventions of the genre. People find things more or less satisfying depending on what they expect to see in a movie, whether us "thinking movie goers" like it or not. There's a reason you don't really see ghosts and wizards with jetpacks and laser guns; it really is two forms of "magic" treading on each others' territories. Of course genre bending is more acceptable now than it has ever been with the explosion of new media, though I think there are some rules people are wired for, or seem to perpetually want.

I think it only matters insofar as your ability to communicate an idea clearly to someone else. If people think they hate movies with wizards, but love spaceships, you're not doing your conversation any favors by referring to Star Wars or Star Trek as a fantasy series. It seems like being intentionally obtuse to win some argument no one ever even started.

I guess everybody already knows my view on this: I agree with the above except that your "gimme's" push it into fantasy for me. Fiction, broadly speaking, are stories that could have been real, under different circumstances. Science fiction is fiction that includes technologies that are actually possible but either don't yet exist or are exotic. Fantasy is anything that is not possible in the real world and therefore happens in a make-believe world.
Considering the fact that you believe humans setting foot on Mars is fantasy (I suppose more establishing a base), you have pretty much eviscerated your own use of sci-fi applying to anything  ;D
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Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 05:39:56 PM »
What to think of speculative fiction that doesn't have much or any advanced technology but really just explores social situations?

Say, if something like 1984 were written today.  There isn't much in the way of technology that we couldn't replicate now but it is a world that is drastically different that what we have now.
Your last example speaks to the difficulty of predicting what is or isn't plausible. The future tends to be wildly more bizarre than anticipated. Not a great writer, but William Gibson seems to have a wild prescience about humans relationship with technology.

I love present day sci-fi, like Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Flatliners, or Her. We know that isn't how the brain works, but it's not about the tech being accurate, it's about our relationships with it and each other.
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Offline 2397

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 05:55:58 PM »
There's a reason you don't really see ghosts and wizards with jetpacks and laser guns; it really is two forms of "magic" treading on each others' territories. Of course genre bending is more acceptable now than it has ever been with the explosion of new media, though I think there are some rules people are wired for, or seem to perpetually want.

I wouldn't mind seeing that. If magic exists, it doesn't mean technological progress can't happen. It could make some things unnecessary, and keep them from being developed. But it might be nice to be able to turn on the lights without using fire and without having to ask a wizard to do it for you.

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2018, 07:21:52 PM »
There's a reason you don't really see ghosts and wizards with jetpacks and laser guns; it really is two forms of "magic" treading on each others' territories. Of course genre bending is more acceptable now than it has ever been with the explosion of new media, though I think there are some rules people are wired for, or seem to perpetually want.

I wouldn't mind seeing that. If magic exists, it doesn't mean technological progress can't happen. It could make some things unnecessary, and keep them from being developed. But it might be nice to be able to turn on the lights without using fire and without having to ask a wizard to do it for you.
Did you see Bright on Netflix? It isn't sci-fi, but the premise feels like it's hitting near the wall of credibility. I'm sure someone will do it, but it's tough to get people to accept too much at once. Though a WarHammer campaign made to screen might do it...
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2018, 09:10:37 PM »
If they use technology, it's sci-fi. If they use spiritual, or mystical energy then it's fantasy. I also consider horror to be horror, though it's all mostly fantasy (excepting Alien, which I think of as more sci-fi horror).

My gripe against Star trek is that they use magic but they call it technology. Would Harry Potter become sci-fi if they said that the wands and brooms were advanced technology rather than magic?

I'm willing to abide that superhero movies are some combination of technology and wizardry, though I think they generally adhere to their own genre as well.

There are many sub-genres within fantasy. There's space fantasy, superhero fantasy, zombie fantasy, vampire/werewolf fantasy, etc., etc., etc.


I guess everybody already knows my view on this: I agree with the above except that your "gimme's" push it into fantasy for me. Fiction, broadly speaking, are stories that could have been real, under different circumstances. Science fiction is fiction that includes technologies that are actually possible but either don't yet exist or are exotic. Fantasy is anything that is not possible in the real world and therefore happens in a make-believe world.

Considering the fact that you believe humans setting foot on Mars is fantasy (I suppose more establishing a base), you have pretty much eviscerated your own use of sci-fi applying to anything  ;D

Actually, I don't consider humans setting foot on Mars as fantasy. I see it as being obscenely expensive and dangerous. I think a crew would have about a 5% chance of making the round trip alive, and suspect that it would cost the greater part of our national budget for a decade. I think it's reckless and a waste of resources for a return that could be achieved at a fraction of the cost with robots. The astronauts would be irradiated to the extent that they'd almost certainly have cancer by the time they returned, and insufficient bone and muscle mass to stand up against the pull of Earth's gravity, assuming they didn't crash and die when they got there or succumb to any of a thousand other possible mishaps.

But I absolutely believe it is possible. It violates no laws of physics. A movie about a trip to Mars as such a trip would actually be done, would be science fiction, not fantasy. (The Martian failed because it broke too much of reality, from the sandstorm to repairing the dome with duct tape, to growing sterilized potatoes in poisonous soil, to
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But have the adventures be realistic responses to real problems likely to occur, and you'd have a hard science fiction story.
Daniel
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Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2018, 09:53:18 PM »
I would have hated going to your book shop. The Fantasy section would have been most of the store, with Sci-Fi restricted to part of 1 shelf  ;)

For better of worse, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy borders have been drawn. Of course it's a Venn diagram with many books being in both.

But you know that Star Trek, Farscape, Doctor Who, Superhero movies (and even probably Star Wars) will be in the Sci-Fi section of the now non-existent video store.
The Fantasy section will be the Harry Potters. Game of Thrones and LOTR movies etc.

When you say sci-fi, you give a completely different expectation, to most people, than Fantasy.


Offline bimble

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2018, 04:25:07 AM »
Quote
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Clarke's 3rd Law

if it's acknowledged that it IS technology, SiFi, but if it is magic, Fantasy.

Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2018, 07:08:09 AM »
Ironman, SciFi.

Vision, Hybrid.

Thor, Fantasy.

The fuzzy middle ground is the issue, I think. 



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Offline Jaloopa

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2018, 09:15:12 AM »
I like both so I'm not bothered at all by what people class as what.

I suppose in very broad strokes, if it's set in the future it's sci fi, if it's set in what the writer believes medieval Europe was like then it's fantasy

Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2018, 09:25:32 AM »
I like both so I'm not bothered at all by what people class as what.

True, that. Most of the confusion, for me, seems to come from bookstores that have no idea what broad category a book should be in.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: So what do you consider Sci Fi vs Fantasy?
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2018, 10:16:08 AM »
I would have hated going to your book shop. The Fantasy section would have been most of the store, with Sci-Fi restricted to part of 1 shelf  ;)

No, this is incorrect. In my bookstore, 1/3 would be non-fiction. That's biographies, history, science, maybe some philosophy. Another 1/3 would be fiction. That's most of the literature that preceded the space age. The last 1/3 would have hard sci-fi probably on one small shelf, there being so little of it, and then fantasy divided into categories like sword-and-sorcery, urban fantasy, space opera, superheroes, horror. Obviously there are overlaps, so the computer card catalog would allow complex search terms, and some books would show up under more than one category. All the sci-fi and fantasy put together would not occupy more than 1/3 of the store. Maybe considerably less, with more space devoted to non-fiction and literature.

If you come to my book store, where the coffee and tea and muffins are free as long as you are actually reading a book, you'll just have to go to the fantasy section for your space operas if they have FTL travel or transporter beams.

Quote
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Clarke's 3rd Law

if it's acknowledged that it IS technology, SiFi, but if it is magic, Fantasy.

Calling homeopathy "medicine" will not suddenly make it effective. When an author claims his book is true, that does not automatically make it so. The gadgets in Star Trek are magic even though the show's writers call them technology.

I acknowledge that the popular view is that the show is science fiction. I disagree with the popular view.
Daniel
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