Science-Fiction and Fantasy are substantially different categories. Characteristics of fantasy and science fiction often overlap and the precise classification of a given work is subject to debate among some fans and writers. Both fantasy and science fiction of genres are usually shelved together in bookstores and libraries, because of their readerships’ and authors tend to overlap somewhat. Science-Fiction and Fantasy writer sometimes choose to wear two hats and writ some of both.
The term ‘fantasy,’ when regarded as part of a particular genre, generally brings to mind tales of dragons and castles and knights and the great quest. Truthfully, the fantasy genre is much broader and Fantasy sub-genres may include these and others:
• The Quest • Arthurian Fantasy • Comic Fantasy • Dark Fantasy • Fairy Tales • Mythology • Heroic Fantasy • High Fantasy • Magic Realism • Modern Fantasy • Mystery Fantasy • Speculative Fantasy • Romance Fantasy • Sword and Sorcery • Good Versus Evil
When discussing various writing genres, it is common for people – both writers and readers – to lump science fiction and fantasy together under the catchall term “speculative fiction.” On a general level, this comparison between these two genres is accurate. However, these two very close kins are inherently different on many levels. Let us look at the difference between science fiction and fantasy creations.
Science Fiction Vs. Fantasy: Identifying Major Literary Differences
1. Possibility Vs. Impossibility
Science fiction, also commonly known as Sci-fi, is a fiction literature genre whose storyline and elements are imaginary but are based on science and scientific facts. Sci-fi novels and novellas follow a logical and plausible theme and prose that has scientific backing.
Follow a logical and plausible theme means that the occurrences and events presented in sci-fi literature are possible to occur. Science fiction needs to be set in the future where technologies used may not be available but are still not beyond the realm of scientific theory. It is essential that sci-fi creations make sense within the natural laws of the universe so that the readers can connect the now and the future.
On the other hand, fantasy as a genre deals with mythical, magical, or supernatural occurrences that have no scientific backing or explanation and cannot possibly occur in our real world. Fantasy stories told in an imagined world, often entirely different from our own, which involves a mystical base.
For example, a sci-fi creation may present a space ship that travels faster than light. The writer would hope that in tomorrow’s world, such technologies can be possible owing to advancement in science and technology. On the contrary, fantasy creations might present human characters with abilities to fly or are bulletproof, something that does not and is likely not to exist in our reality.
Science fiction deals with scientific concepts while fantasy creations are merely written on the foundation of imaginative ideas.
3. Heroes And Heroines
Fantasy and sci-fi creations have different types of heroes and heroines. With fantasy creations, the heroes are usually mythical creatures or humans with supernatural powers.
The use of mythical creatures or supernatural humans is however different with Sci-fi creations which present real human heroes with unique talents and skill sets that make them formidable risk takers, valuable leaders or effective problem solvers which help them succeed in the end.
4. The Setting
Often, science fiction works are almost always in the future. A sci-fi story would extrapolate our world across time and explore what would happen in the advent of new futuristic technologies. Pundits maintain that today’s disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual realities were envisioned and inspired by yesterday’s sci-fi works.
On the other hand, fantasy literature setting is almost always in a world so different from ours, and often in the past. This past could be ancient or medieval, and often involving magic. Fantasy works present an alternate world with mythical occurrences that would only be possible through imagination.
Understanding these science fiction vs. fantasy differences will help you create or choose a clarified genre that satisfies your readers. Often, readers look for specific literary identifying marks in a fantasy or sci-fi novel.
Being aware of the difference between science fiction and fantasy can help you blend and shade these two genres to create literary works that can move readers seamlessly between the possibilities and the impossibilities.