Why I Write Fantasy More Than I Write Sci-fi (Part 2)

IMG_8902In my first post (here), I describe one of the key attributes, for me, about fantasy fiction is the emphasis on wonder and amazement. I want to further explore the nature of fantasy fiction by comparison with the genre’s sister, science fiction. Of course, everything I am describing is generalization and there are plenty of exceptions to the “rules”.

Fantasy stories often depict either a lost history or a secret world around us. A fantasy setting can conjure a sense of a mythic past golden eras or instill mystery about the reality of our world. Either way, we feel connected to the fantastical setting as though it is part of our world, our past, us. Science fiction on the other hand, describes alien worlds or a future to come. We may marvel at the oddity of another planet, but we do not relate to it the same way we may feel toward a fantasy setting.

Both fantasy and science fiction can sidestep modern scientific principles with magic or advanced technology, but these two solutions around our understanding of the universe affect the characters differently. Technology is a tool; it is impersonal and communicable. I can hand you my phone or someone can steal my spaceship. Magic is often depicted as an innate ability like perfect pitch or a photographic memory. Even when technology is user specific, perhaps with biometrics, it still is external to the individual when magic is internal.

Within a fantasy setting, strange and wonderful things can exist without needing a technological or monetary reason. In a science fiction setting, most technology will require some justification for its existence. While the economics of technology in science fiction makes sense and serves the context, it often speaks to human ingenuity rather than wonderment of life and our world.

Again, these are just a few thoughts on the differences between fantasy and science fiction. What do you see as differences between the genres? What are the strengths and weaknesses to either?



About Tim Oldenkamp

I am fantasy writer working on my debut novel and a trilogy of short stories. My wife and I recently moved back to our native California after living in Grenoble France for three years.
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