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How to Merge Fantasy With Science Fiction

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

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    ...and any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
    Malik likes this.
  2. Gormnghast is considered Horror
    The Lions of Al-Rassan is historical fiction
    I can't find much of anything on The Company
    Swordspoint is Fantasy Of Manners, which has no or few supernatural elements, nor does it have anything that couldn't be in the real world, so it's not even Speculative Fiction.
  3. If Fantasy didn't have magic/supernatural elements, it would be Historical Fiction or Alternate History.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Gormenghast is not horror.

    Lions of Al-Rassan is not historical fantasy--it's set in a made up world, along with many of his other books, that are analogs of the real world. Some people have invented the phrase 'historical fantasy' for this kind of work--distinguished from historical fiction by use of the word 'fantasy.'

    Your statement about Swordspoint doesn't even make any sense. It's set in a made-up world. One of the sequels was nominated for the Mythopoeic Award, which is a fantasy award.

    Kushner is the one who first called her work a "fantasy of manners," and she considers the book series fantasy.

    Not to mention, again, that these are all shelved in the fantasy section at the bookstore. They're not in general fiction, which is where historical fiction is found.

    Wherever you're getting your information from is incorrect.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  5. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Minstrel

    Oh my! This thread has turned into some sort of battle about what's and what's not fantasy or scifi, although it's understandable given the gray areas that these two speculative genres share. This problem is aggravated by the particularities of science fiction, a genre that has itself proven to be so fluid, so adaptable, so anything that it's the only literary genre (as far as I've seen) that has an exclusive article on Wikipedia just about its definition! And not a short one, mind you, although mostly full of writers quotes. From the ones listed there, there is one from Norman Spinrad that I found quite charming:
    (This is a longer version of the Spinrad's quote that I've found here)

    I think there's another like-minded quote which says something like "Science fiction is what my editor says is science fiction.", but I neither remember who or when it was said (I think it comes from the classic golden era of scifi but I'm not sure). So, trying to set in stone what these two genres are or are not is like trying to clip their wings instead of allowing them to keep on evolving, as they've been doing through the years.

    So, I think that, in the end, the only possible answer to your question, LancasrerLancasrer , is to play the merge following your instinct, knowledge and personal taste, while paying attention to the feeling or vibe you want to give to your story with such merge. Although bear in mind that everything in this universe and in any other is physics, even when things look really twisted and strange to us.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  6. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    The thing to remember about genre is that genre is mainly a marketing tool. It's the shelve a bookstore puts the book on, it's the section a buyer browses. This means that a genre is not a clearly defined thing but belongs in the "you know what it is when you see it" group of things. It also means that it's fluid and changes over time. What's even more, a lot of (smaller) bookstores don't actually distinguish between SciFi and Fantasy, but rather they have a SciFi & Fantasy section, making the difference meaningless.

    Going with "you know what it is when you see it", I get the following genre definitions:
    Fantasy: uses magic or an alternate world with a historical technology level.
    SciFi: uses futuristic technology.

    Yes, there's a lot you can argue over in those definitions. About how the central question in the genres is different. Or about when something is technology or magic and so on. But that's details in my opinion. For me it's simpler. Take a random person in the street. Tell them you have a book about spaceships and they'll assume it's SciFi. Tell them there is magic in it and they'll assume it's fantasy. And since genre is a marketing tool, that's what's important, what that random person looking for a book thinks the genre is.

    How does that play into the OP question about how to mix the two. Well, in my opinion, just do it. As has been mentioned, Star Wars is the best and most well known example. And it's popularity shows that there is demand for these kinds of tales. So how to do it, put your magic in a futuristic setting with spaceships. If magic exists in your universe, and space travel is scientifically possible in your universe, then just roll the timeline forward to a point where you have both.

    After all, technology (and history) doesn't stop at a medieval level just because magic exists. It just follows a different trajectory. And you will still get to spaceships and aliens and all that.
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    I went back and forth over magic and science fiction in my worlds for a long, long time. I was trying to account for things like 'humans on other planets' without resorting to parallel evolution or divine activity - and for having cultures comparable to those in earths past.

    Finally settled on the 'ancient aliens' gimmick - multiple tens of thousands of years ago, technologically advanced aliens terraformed a number of worlds, then went and imported 'humans and others' as servants, test subjects, and 'zoo specimens.' Over time, the aliens numbers decreased, so they started to shift more tech work onto their imported subjects - which is where the magic comes in.

    The aliens were psi sensitive, and much of their tech required psi ability to properly operate. So, for their favored servants to operate said devices, they needed to be psi sensitive as well. Quite a few test subjects later, they had an assortment of humans, goblins, and others with psi ability hardwired into their genome. The aliens continued to import humans and others right up until the last of their civilizations imploded - call it 1700 years ago. By then, those with psi ability were considered 'magicians.'

    As wizards go...the mages of my worlds are not that awesome. They can do what we'd term 'remote viewing' (scrying), have various forms of telekinesis, influence minds (telepathy), and pull off a sort of 'faith healing' thing. The more powerful display pyrokinesis and teleportation. Summoning monstrous entities from alien dimensions is possible - but is also exceedingly foolish. Half remembered and creatively reassembled bits of alien lore form the basis for 'rune magic.' Shape shifting requires a master mage to make happen.

    Though the aliens are mostly gone, quite a bit of their tech remains, much of it inoperable or semi functional. Yes, functional potent weapons and wondrous machines do turn up now and again...but one can't count on them remaining functional, and repairing them ranges between 'difficult' and 'impossible.' Probably there's a fair pile of these devices secreted away in a top secret warehouse on Malik's world, but those poking at them might not have figured out that psi ability is needed to make them work...
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  8. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    One of my favourite types of story!
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    I did it with my post-apocalyptic fantasy series, First Civilization's Legacy.

    One of the things I did was to begin, starting with the 2nd chapter, and on to about the 28th chapter, what I called a Chapter Start. It told the story (present day) of events that led to the world as it became in the series. The Chapter Starts ended when they merged with the current plot/action within the first novel. The Chapter Starts were mainly 2-8 paragraph snippets of a sequence of events (sometimes a little longer), set off by italics.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  10. It being in another world if there is no magic would make it alternate history, not fantasy.
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    That doesn’t make sense at all, in my view. We will have to agree to disagree. I’ll stick with where the market places such works, which also happens to feel logical to me.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  12. Seems fair.
  13. angelleaping

    angelleaping Dreamer

    There is a difference between dystopian worlds and a fantasy world. Star Wars is a dystopian world. I studied Ray Bradbury for fantasy worlds and Ken Follett for historical fiction when I began writing "Einstein's Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure". I researched young Albert Einstein who in his biography, written by Walter Isaacson received a compass from his father when he was six years old. I wondered what if the compass given by his father was supernatural? Since Einstein lived during the horse and buggy days when the light bulb was first invented, how did he come up with his theories of light and time? What if he was from Atlantis and was trying to remember what he did back then? The fantasy world I created came from forty years of mystical training. I gave Albert my experiences of traveling the inners worlds of light. I layered the story beginning with the history, then added the characters, and finally the mystical worlds. Check out my multi-awarding winner novel www.einsteinscompassbook.com.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.

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