1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How to Merge Fantasy With Science Fiction

Discussion in 'Research' started by Lancasrer, Oct 5, 2020.

  1. Lancasrer

    Lancasrer Acolyte

    9
    2
    3
    How to put the 2 together in a happy marriage?
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    4,275
    1,393
    163
    I think Star Wars does it fairly well.
     
  3. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

    202
    79
    28
    Also, post-apocalyptic stuff like Mad Max.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,461
    4,316
    313
    What do you have in mind? There are hundreds of examples. What do you regard as a successful melding?
     
    Malik likes this.
  5. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    473
    259
    63
    The difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction is based on principles established by real world science, and fantasy is based on principles the author made up. Either way, the unorthodoxed concepts used in the story must at some point be established and explained to the reader. The only difference is that in science fiction you can often get away with a bit less explaining since the reader will probably already be marginally familiar with the "magic system" in a science fiction work. By some definitions, science fiction can be considered a subset of fantasy.
     
  6. Do a world that has spaceships AND magic!
     
    Ned Marcus likes this.
  7. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

    46
    32
    18
    Not always VaporoVaporo , for instance we don't know how to make teleportation true, but you can find it in Star Trek. Or how to make a true lightsaber, following the Star Wars reference. And no, science fiction is certainly not a subset of fantasy, unless we use the term fantasy in one of its most broad senses:
    Fantasy, scifi, horror and other related genres all fall under the broad categorization of Speculative fiction, therefore what you can call them is siblings of each other.

    And now, regarding the question of LancasrerLancasrer :

    Sure, there are infinite ways to do the merge, but I think it depends on how you play with your reader's perspective. Reflecting on this, I cannot help but notice how fantastic or magical elements usually remain vaguely defined. For instance, the magic in the Lord of the Rings saga is just used, never fully explained at all, and the same can be said about the Force in Star Wars. In contrast, scientifical elements, artifacts or ideas tend to be more solid both physically and conceptually. In other words, fantasy tends to keep the mistery and its wonder by remaining, at least, cryptic to the reader; meanwhile, science fiction tends to explain to the reader, in some form or other, the concepts and artifacts used in it's stories. This is just a (my) rule of thumb, but realize that, in this train of thought, the reader's knowledge is the one that concedes, to some extent, the fantasy or scifi (or whatever) vibe to a speculative fiction story.

    Think about when Jules Verne published it's famous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, most people in the world had never seen or even heard of submarines at all (although they had been around for a while already). To the mind of those who weren't in the known, the Nautilus would surely have seem like pure fantasy. In the book, Verne gives some technical explanations about the submarine, but if you take those out and just leave the adventure, the ship would probably look more magical rather than what it was: a product of known cutting edge science of its time.

    So, what I'm trying to say here is that what it seems magicalish or scientificalish in a speculative fiction usually comes down to what the reader knows and what you, as the writer, allow them to know about the elements you're using in your story. Being aware of this I think will help you find the ideal degree of merging you want to achieve in your story.

    Finally, I'd like to point out some other examples you can draw inspiration from:
    • Most american superhero comics are essentially fantasies spiced up with some scifi trappings.
    • The japanese are very experienced in combining fantasy with high-tech elements. For instance you could check out the following:
      • Silent Mobius: anime series in which a special police unit fights some entities from another reality using paranormal abilities. The settings of story happens in a settings with futuristic tech and a very scifi-looking skyline.
      • Akira: a comic series first, and a famous anime movie later, in which you have a post-apocalyptic, scifi, high-tech settings combined with touches of horror, gore and psychic powers.
      • Phantasy Star: a videogame RPG saga in which you play epic adventures traveling to different planets and fight all kinds of creatures with both magic and scifi weapons.
      • Code Geass: another anime saga in which high-tech and some sort of magic are combined in the story.
      • I could go on and on, but just be aware that, in merging fantasy and technology in fiction, the japanese are quite natural at it.
    • Under the steampunk genre you'll find quite a number of stories in which they end using magic on their steam machines, and for other purposes. Not surprising, since the steam engines are not exactly the best for far too many uses (like travelling to another planet, for instance).
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  8. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    473
    259
    63
    So Star Trek's teleportation is a fictional effect, purely a product of the author's imagination. Doesn't that, by definition, make it fantasy? The characters step onto a circle in the middle of the room and are instantly transported to a distant location. From a narrative perspective, it makes little difference if it's the result of high technology or a magic spell.

    You're right, though. There is a blurry gray area in science fiction where the technology and concepts presented aren't known to be possible, just not proven impossible. Does that make it fantasy? I don't know. It's blurry.
     
  9. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

    46
    32
    18
    Again, I think you're using the term fantasy in a broad sense, not referring to the genre itself which has a certain set of recognizable traits. But I understand where you're going.

    Usually, the common trick in scifi is that it's usually set in the future, in a time in which certain new science has been developed and has made certain technologies possible, like the teleporter. It is just a more advanced science than our current one, and from our point of view could look magical, but then again this is just a matter of the reader's perspective and knowledge. Of course, it also depends on how the creator presents the science: in Star Trek everything seems to have some sense of reality, to be grounded on some science or technique, whereas magic is just hocus pocus and voilĂ  it works just because.

    Thinking about this in a different direction, and this is something I've already said somehow in some other thread here on mythic scribes, magic only seems magical from the outside: a sorcerer, wizard or necromancer knows quite well what's going on. They have studied their craft for years, they have tried and tested their so-called magical techniques to understand them (and they even keep on investigating)... What is this if not science? Following this train of thought, we could say that ALL fantasy is just unexplained science fiction!
     
    Malik likes this.
  10. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

    392
    201
    43
    Most science fiction is basically fantasy - Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica are very definitely fantasy, Star Trek also has huge fantasy elements as does Babylon 5, and of course there is obviously Warhammer 40 000 which is fantasy masquerading as sci-fi... in fact, it is much more difficult to find "pure" science fiction than it is to find a sci-fi/fantasy mix.
     
    Vaporo likes this.
  11. Malik

    Malik Auror

    1,029
    1,188
    163
    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Clarke's Third Law

    There's also Gehm's corollary: "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."

    My current series is a portal fantasy that relies heavily on technology and science to explain the differences between the secondary fantasy world and our own. I wrote them in third omniscient using a fictional narrator who understands the technical aspects and used Clancy/Crichton-style narrative asides. I also carry those scientific and technical elements into the plotlines. The first book in my series, for instance, has a pivotal element involving a Viking-era steelmaking technique and the resultant effects of the iron trade on military preparedness across kingdoms.

    My new series is about a secret government program exploring the world from my first series, and it's much more technical, delving into both ancient and current weapons and advanced desert warfare techniques. However, it also has elves, gryphons, trolls, and magic. What's fun--getting back to a happy marriage between the SF and fantasy--is lensing the fantasy world that I developed through the first three books through the eyes of two intensely scientific MCs: a former commando turned professor of Norse anthropology and an archaeometallurgist who specializes in medieval weapons. They see the elves and trolls as aliens--after all, they're on another planet--and keep looking for scientific explanations for the magic. Sometimes, they find one.
     
    Eduardo Letavia likes this.
  12. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    2,046
    1,229
    163
    We write urban fantasy, so we're totally cheating. We use a little 5 minutes-into-the-future to have technical items that are a) not yet in existence but will be soon, like a phone app for the deaf that accurately transcribes talk to text, or b) powered by magic itself, such as named weapons and things that come from other realms.
     
  13. The definition of Fantasy is fiction with magic. The definition of sci-fi is fiction with futuristic elements. Boom. Easy as pie.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,260
    3,587
    413
    Except for all of the fantasy works that have no magic in them at all...
     
  15. then it wouldn't be Fantasy.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,260
    3,587
    413
    That may be your view, but it is not one I share (nor one shared by the marketplace, apparently, since these works are shelved and sold in the fantasy section).
     
    Malik likes this.
  17. Example?
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,260
    3,587
    413
    Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast books.
    Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan
    KJ Parker, The Company (and some other KJ Parker books, for that matter)
    Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner (and Privilege of the Sword, set in the same world)

    I can probably name a few others when I get home and look at my shelves.
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,260
    3,587
    413
    It's hard to argue that books set in an entirely made-up world, which fall squarely into secondary world fantasy (like KJ Parker's books) suddenly are no longer fantasy if the author doesn't put magic in them.
     
    Malik likes this.
  20. Malik

    Malik Auror

    1,029
    1,188
    163
    Off the top of my head, K.J. Parker's Fencer trilogy, and The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. I could be wrong, but I don't remember magical elements in either. They certainly don't revolve around traditional, high-fantasy magic tropes and IIRC, there is very little magic mentioned in them, if any.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page