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Science fantasy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cover of the April/May 1931 issue of Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories. Artwork is by Elliott Dold.

Science fantasy is a hybrid genre within speculative fiction that simultaneously draws upon or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy.[1] In a conventional science fiction story, the world is presented as being scientifically logical, while a conventional fantasy story contains mostly supernatural and artistic elements that disregard the scientific laws of the real world. The world of science fantasy, however, is laid out to be scientifically logical and often supplied with hard science-like explanations of any supernatural elements.[2][3]

During the Golden Age of Science Fiction, the fanciful science fantasy stories were seen in sharp contrast to the terse, scientifically plausible material that came to dominate mainstream science fiction, typified by the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. Although at this time, science fantasy stories were often relegated to the status of children's entertainment, their freedom of imagination and romance proved to be an early major influence on the "New Wave" writers of the 1960s, who became exasperated by the limitations of "hard" SF.[4]

Distinguishing between pure science fiction and pure fantasy, Rod Serling argued that the former was "the improbable made possible" while the latter was "the impossible made probable".[5] As a combination of the two, science fantasy gives a scientific veneer of realism to things that simply could not happen in the real world under any circumstances. Where science fiction does not permit the existence of fantastical or supernatural elements, science fantasy explicitly relies upon them to complement the scientific elements.

In explaining the intrigue of science fantasy, Carl D. Malmgren provides an intro regarding C. S. Lewis's speculation on the emotional needs at work in the subgenre: "In the counternatural worlds of science fantasy, the imaginary and the actual, the magical and the prosaic, the mythical and the scientific, meet and interanimate. In so doing, these worlds inspire us with new sensations and experiences, with [quoting C. S. Lewis] 'such beauty, awe, or terror as the actual world does not supply', with the stuff of desires, dreams, and dread."[2]

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  • When Science FICTION Becomes Science FACT!
  • The Evolution of Science Fiction (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It's Lit!
  • 14 science fiction stories in under 6 minutes
  • Lecture #1: Introduction — Brandon Sanderson on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • The Golden Age of Science Fiction - Modernity Begins - Extra Sci Fi


In 1988, Isaac Asimov predicted that we would all own computers connected to massive libraries and be able to access digital teachers and reference materials on demand, allowing us to learn at our own pace, wherever we want, about whatever we choose. So . . . basically this? [MUSIC] You know what's frustrating about tomorrow? . . . that it's not today. That makes it very hard to predict. But that doesn't stop us from trying. And lots of our predictions about the science of TOMORROW come in the form of science FICTION. Science SCIENCE is, for the most part, a historical study, built on observations of things that have already happened. But science FICTION has a decidedly tomorrow-y bent to it. Not all predictions are CORRECT, I mean you'd have to be a pretty big bojo to think that we're actually going to have hoverboards by October 21, 2015, but throughout the history of science fiction, people have gotten a lot of things amazingly RIGHT. Like in 1865, Jules Verne predicted that the US would send three men to the moon in a spaceship named Columbiad launched on a rocket weighing 20,000 pounds at a cost of 12.1 billion dollars. 104 years later, the U.S. sent three men to the moon in a spaceship named Columbia on a rocket weighing 26,000 pounds at a cost of 14.4 billion dollars. NOT BAD. Mark Twain, in his 1898 story "From the 'London Times' of 1904" predicted a worldwide network of interconnected telephone devices that would let people share information and he even predicted we would just waste time looking at what everyone else was doing. He wasn't the only one to predict the internet. Douglas Adams wrote about a handheld device that was the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom in the galaxy, but that was in 1979, and the internet was already being built, so I don't know if it counts. But hey, you can read books on it! Arthur C. Clarke is also on the list of people who predicted internet-type computer things [ARTHUR C CLARKE TALKING] but his BOOKS got so many things right that you'd think he had access to some superior form of artificial intelligence. "Siri can you open the pod bay doors please?" Today artificial intelligence has advanced enough to win at Jeopardy, but so far no one has died from it . . . I think. Before Arthur C. Clarke wrote stories, he worked on radar for the Royal Air Force. In 1945, he wrote an article describing "extra-terrestrial relays", which essentially predicted AND laid out a plan for our entire modern system of geostationary communications satellites. To this day, the particular altitude of space that those satellites live is known as the "Clarke Orbit" In the 1911 story "Ralph 124C 41+", Hugo Gernsback, the namesake of science fiction's annual "Hugo awards", predicted that an emitted radio wave should reflect off distant objects and make them detectable like visible light, which we call radar, something that wasn't invented until almost 25 years later. In 1961's "Stranger In A Strange Land" Robert Heinlein predicted screensavers, although I'm not sure he knew we'd use flying toasters. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury predicted flatscreen television, as well as "seashells" and "thimble radios" worn in the ears which I think we've all HEARD of. 50 years ago, during the 1964 world's fair, Isaac Asimov predicted that in 2014 we would have some robots, but they wouldn't be very good yet, that nuclear and solar power would replace fossil fuels, we'd have self-driving cars, we'd have unmanned missions to Mars, and everyone would wear killer sideburns and bolo ties Philip K. Dick is a decidedly more pessimistic predictor of the future, but he was . . . RIGHT. Maybe it's not all sunshine and roses out there. Minority Report's "Precogs" have been related by some to modern efforts to use neuroscience in the courtroom. Total Recall-level memory implantation is nowhere close to being real, but experiments in mice suggest that brain-to-brain neural linkage is not complete fiction. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep predicts a world full of bio-inspired engineering and human-like artificial intelligence, while A Scanner Darkly predicted a level of high-tech government surveillance that I think we all WISH was fiction, but I love the NSA, the NSA is our friend. But nobody, NOBODY, holds a Nostradmus-y candle to HG Wells. He, too predicted the iPad, oh AND automatic sliding doors, in 1899's When The Sleeper Wakes. He predicted the atomic bomb, in scary detail, including all of the radioactive fallout horror that it would bring, in 1914's "The World Set Free", even down to some of the nuclear PHYSICS involved. He even called it an "atomic bomb" which was not even a term that existed before that. In The Time Machine he predicted, well, the time machine (although he didn't explain how it works, so maybe we shouldn't count that one). The Shape of Things to Come predicted airborne warfare. Men Like Gods saw wireless communications. War of the Worlds (SPOILERS) reminded us that faced with man or even alien technology, bacteria will ALWAYS win. The Invisible Man used light refracting metamaterials for invisibility nearly a century BEFORE we even knew what metamaterials were. In The Island of Doctor Moreau he not only predicted genetic engineering, but asked a question that we still haven't answered: How does man safely manipulate nature when he is PART of nature? HG Wells was so good, and so often correct, about predicting the future, that he is called "the man who invented tomorrow". Or today. Of course, not all sci-fi is good at predicting the future, and sci-fi gets lots of stuff wrong, but you have to admit that some of these predictions are so spot on that you'd almost expect one of the authors to be from Gallifrey. One right prediction in any one body of work would be lucky, but this many right answers can't be luck. Clearly something sets these people apart. Many of the greatest sci-fi writers also had serious scientific training. Isaac Asimov had a PhD in biochemistry. Arthur C. Clarke degree in math and physics. HG Wells had a degree in biology. Of course it also helps to hang out with people like Carl Sagan. At its core, good science fiction must rest on good SCIENCE. It seems obvious, but this, I think, is why the best sci-fi authors are also the most frequently right when it comes to predicting the future. How far can we see into the future? It depends on what we're looking for. Isaac Asimov said that when we look at stars, or galaxies, or DNA we are looking at simple things, things that follow nice neat rules and equations. But when we look at human history, it's chaotic, it's unpredictable, our vision is limited. Science transforms the complex into the simple, it's how we explain the chaos. Science is how we see farther, and science fiction is where we write down what we see. I would like to know what YOU think down in the comments. Why makes some science fiction SO GOOD at predicting the future. And I PREDICT that I missed a TON of awesome science fiction that has become reality, so PLEASE leave a comment and tell me what I missed. Stay curious.

Historical view

The label first came into wide use after many science fantasy stories were published in the American pulp magazines, such as Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc., L. Ron Hubbard's Slaves of Sleep, and Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp's Harold Shea series. All were relatively rationalistic stories published in John W. Campbell Jr.'s Unknown magazine. These were a deliberate attempt to apply the techniques and attitudes of science fiction to traditional fantasy subjects. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction published, among other things, all but the last of the Operation series, by Poul Anderson.

Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore published novels in Startling Stories, alone and together, which were far more romantic. These were closely related to the work that they and others were doing for outlets like Weird Tales, such as Moore's Northwest Smith stories.[citation needed]

Ace Books published a number of books as science fantasy during the 1950s and 1960s.[citation needed]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction points out that as a genre, science fantasy "has never been clearly defined", and was most commonly used in the period between 1950 and 1966.[6]

The Star Trek franchise created by Gene Roddenberry is sometimes cited as an example of science fantasy. Writer James F. Broderick describes Star Trek as science fantasy because it includes semi-futuristic as well as supernatural/fantasy elements such as The Q.[7] According to the late science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, many purists argue that Star Trek is science fantasy rather than science fiction because of its scientifically improbable elements, which he partially agreed with.[8]

The Star Wars franchise has been debated as science fantasy. In 2015, George Lucas stated that "Star Wars isn't a science-fiction film, it's a fantasy film and a space opera".[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ Slusser, George Edgar; Rabkin, Eric S., eds. (1987). Intersections: Fantasy and Science Fiction. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-1374-7.
  2. ^ a b Malmgren, Carl D. (1988). "Towards a Definition of Science Fantasy (Vers une définition de la fantaisie scientifique)". Science Fiction Studies. 15 (3): 259–281. JSTOR 4239897.
  3. ^ Eric R. Williams, The Screenwriters Taxonomy: A Collaborative Approach to Creative Storytelling, p. 121
  4. ^ Moorcock, Michael (13 June 2002). "Queen of the Martian Mysteries: An Appreciation of Leigh Brackett". Fantastic Metropolis. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  5. ^ "The Fugitive". The Twilight Zone. Season 3. Episode 25. March 9, 1962. CBS.
  6. ^ Nussbaum, Abigail (April 2, 2015). "Science Fantasy". In Nicholas, Peter (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  7. ^ Broderick, James F. (2006). "Chapter Sixteen: Fantasy Versus Reality". The Literary Galaxy of Star Trek: An Analysis of References and Themes in the Television Series and Films. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 135–144. ISBN 9780786425716. OCLC 475148033.
  8. ^ Clarke, Arthur C. (October 2006). "Forty Years of Star Trek". Locus. No. 549 (Vol. 57, No. 4). Retrieved May 25, 2017 – via the website Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Issue table of contents link.
  9. ^ "Is Star Wars sci-fi or fantasy? How George Lucas changed "science fiction"". 15 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Star Wars vs. Science Fiction". 16 December 2015.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 14 November 2023, at 17:54
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