SciFi vs Fantasy 

What’s the difference between sci-fi and fantasy?

One approach is Sanderson’s law of hard vs soft magic, either your magic has a fixed set of laws and principles and you work with those or it’s more deus ex machina kind of stuff where you can just say “it’s magic!”. Sanderson’s observation is that with hard magic it’s perfectly fine to let the system solve some problems in the story (e.g. it’s perfectly fine to escape using the millenium falcon’s hyperdrive) vs soft magic (e.g. if Gandalf cannot just blast all the orcs in Moria). The two system genres also co-exist a lot, like “the force” in Star Wars and the orc bomb in LotR, with Game of Thrones being more of a book of political intrigue set in a low-fantasy setting (i.e. magic is there but it’s not commonplace anymore).

Another approach is the story itself: sci-fi often projects real-world issues into the story and explores it in a more extreme setting (e.g. spice is required for transportation in Dune, just like oil in the real-world, Asimov’s robots show how having clearly defined unbreakable rules for certain members of society is not sustainable, Orwell explores thoughtpolice and history revision in 1984 etc.). Fantasy is often a more classically heroic saga about destroying evil (like Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time), with social issues barely left addressed.

Anyway, don’t quite know what the point of this post was, I just love my sci-fi and fantasy but often find it hard to explain how they’re the same-same but different. Both are set in wholly different worlds so you can sit back and enjoy the scenery (and LORE) instead of the main driving force being the social dynamics of people (which are so much harder to understand :polarbear:). Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

SciFi vs Fantasy 

@tritlo I have done quite a lot of thinking about this because I (maybe untypically?) am really, really into SciFi but not at all into Fantasy. The only difference I found to explain it to myself that SciFi is (usually) more focused on systems or abstract issues and characters tend to be a secondary focus (for example, in the foundation series or the three body problem books, the characters are basically just plot puppets without much for inner lives) whereas in Fantasy often the character interaction seems to be more important. But again, my sample size for Fantasy books is very small.


SciFi vs Fantasy 

@treppenverstand I agree! I think the same holds for a lot of epic fantasy especially, there's just so many characters that their inner conflicts become irrelevant to the plot (except for the main characters maybe). I've got enough inner conflict already lol 😅

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