Mon 22 September 2014

Science Fiction versus Fantasy

Posted by. James Jackson This article was posted in Self Publishing and tagged with Indie Authors


Just what is the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction

terran chronicles universe blogI am sometimes asked what a science fiction novel is, and if it differs from fantasy. Well first, let's tackle their individual meanings. 

Science fiction is content which is usually set in the future, or in futuristic settings. These stories usually involve space travel, scientific advancements, or alien races. A common theme of science fiction is an off world setting. Think of Frank Herbert's Dune saga, or Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.

Fantasy writing usually involves mythical beasts, magic, and strange lands, which are often inhabited by stranger creatures. Some of the most famous fantasy lands include J.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or J.K Rowling's, Harry Potter Series. A prolific author who was ahead of her time was Enid Blyton. She wrote numerous children's fantasy books, many of which I still recall to this day.

There have been many blends of the two writing styles. For example, The Amtrak Wars. This series is set in a post-apocalyptic future, and yet includes magic as well as science. Interestingly enough, the series begins in the year 2989, with its story line referring to the nuclear war of 2015...

An example I have often used to describe the difference between the two, is that of a person who is defying gravity. In a science fiction story the person would be wearing a device, or be in a zero gravity environment. Whereas in a fantasy setting, the person may be under a magical spell, or simply have the innate ability to fly. Consider Iron Man versus Peter Pan. I am sure other characters come to mind as well.

Both forms of writing require a lot of research in order to create the illusion of reality. For the science fiction writer, the inventions must be plausible. They must have some basis in current scientific knowledge in order for the audience to grasp what they are reading. For the fantasy writer, they must create a character that people can relate to in some way, and then add the fantasy elements as a layer to that character. To me, character development is key in believable fantasy works.

Each writer has their own style, flair, and favored topic. Most writers pick a genre they are comfortable with, and for the most part, stick with it. Consider the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker, and H.P. Lovecraft. When reading this esteemed list, people can't help but think of horror stories. The same is true for science fiction, and fantasy writers, with many becoming household names.

With the advent of self publishing, the number of writers is increasing at an astronomical rate. The chances of any one person achieving fame, is become slimmer, as the sheer volume of new works threatens to flood the market. Like many other optimistic writers, I hope that one day, I too, will be remembered as a science fiction writer. The thought of my efforts fading into obscurity is an unpleasant one. Hence, I continue to do all I can to improve my work as each new story is released from my mind.

Take it easy mates.

James Jackson