“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke
Quite a quote from the Author who gave us 2001: A Space Odyssey, arguably one of the most famous works of science fiction. I find it an interesting point of view to take on what is usually considered the dividing line between Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I also find it the most fitting.
There are typically lines drawn between what makes a story Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. The two genres don’t typically like to be confused for the other. We’ve talked a great deal this month about what makes Sci-Fi what it is, and soon we’ll be delving into it’s counterpart, Fantasy. To give a gross generalization though, Science Fiction deals with stories based with technology and plausible sciences. Whereas Fantasy deals with everything else really, the supernatural and magical.
Seems like that line is a pretty hard one, huh? Cut and dry, Sci-Fi is this, and Fantasy is that. There are definitely hardcore fans of both genres that agree with that. However, I think the matter can be blended, I think there is middle ground that bring similarities to light between them.
The best examples I believe are found in Superhero stories. Take Superman as a prime example. He isn’t human, but an alien from planet Krypton. He lands on Earth in a spacecraft, and then develops his fortress of solitude with the same technological advances. Make’s him sound like a character right out of a Sci-Fi novel.
But consider this. His powers are physic-law breaking abilities. He is faster than a speeding train, crazy strong, bulletproof… oh, and he can fly and has x-ray vision. There are no scientific reasons given for this, the explanation offered to the reader is: he’s an alien. Doesn’t that make him more of a fantasy character?
Star Wars is another example of how the line between the two genres can blur. I’ll stick to one simple example here: a lightsaber. It probably best sums up our quote from Mr. Clarke. It’s one of the strongest examples of a Sci-Fi weapon, I mean, it’s a freaking lazer sword! It’s a strong piece of technology, but at it’s heart, is a Kyber crystal. Here is the biggest part of Kyber crystal lore, the Jedi didn’t choose their own crystal, the crystal chose them. They had to come together as guided by the Force. To me that sounds like Fantasy wrapped up in a Science Fiction bow!
So how hard is the line between science fiction and fantasy? Well, I think that just depends on the story you're reading/crafting. While stories can definitely be firmly one or the other, it's not impossible to be both. I think that's the real sweet spot and I'd encourage everyone to not get too hung up on the genre and just enjoy what you enjoy.
We’d love to hear more!
What other examples of blurring between Sci-Fi and Fantasy can you think of?