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Is it feasible to combine Science Fiction elements into your Fantasy narrative?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Dragonmaster_Dyne, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Dragonmaster_Dyne

    Dragonmaster_Dyne Dreamer

    I'm new here, so I'm just learning about the more intricate practices of the art of fantasy storytelling.

    In my story's world, there will be many details and references to the Old World. (That is simply my working title) Specifically, the ancient world was highly advanced in science and magical arts between the collective races. I plan to litter various ruins and catacombs all throughout the narrative that the cast will find themselves in a good bit on their quest as they unravel clues and answers to the current conflict.

    Two of the characters in particular are operational remnants of the old world, sort of like an android or robot for lack of better term. I'll have to figure what exactly I plan on calling them in the future at some point. This will come in time as I write out my future drafts.

    Would they seem out of place in the current world that has began to undergo an industrial revolution from its medieval roots? One of the characters is a supporting protagonist and the very first prototype while the other one is an advanced combat unit focused on fulfilling his primary directives in servitude to his master. (The main villain.)

    Edit: The old world was almost all but destroyed in an ancient conflict.
  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    I don't see why not. Far from the first time this has been used as a plot of sorts. And it's always nice to see a bit of an industrial revolution in fantasy stories. At least to me.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Absolutely you can do it. In fact if you look up Magitek, and stumble onto the site which must not be named (because whenever it is many hours are lost), you'll find that it's not too uncommon for a fantasy story to go almost full on sci fi for a stretch.
  4. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Yeah, no problems. Just think Shanarra. A fantasy world built on the back of a fallen civilization (ours). But consider one of the important aspects of sci fi - it has to seem plausible. Just consider Shanarra and look at the two basic conflicts between sci fi and fantasy that keep cropping up. Like how does the human race evolve into four separate races in only a few thousand years (we assume). Evolution takes hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. And the corollary of this is of course if it did take that long, or even mere thousands of years, how could there be even rusting hulks of cars left? After a century even the last of them should have been just piles of rust.

    Cheers, Greg.
  5. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    I'm surprised the first post in this thread didn't start with explaining what "science fiction" is and what "fantasy" is and then working from there.

    I don't see why space travel, aliens or robots couldn't exist in a fantasy setting. And we all know fantasy elements can exist in a sci-fi setting (see Star Wars, Dune, even Star Trek, etc.). I think the idea that the two genres can't mingle stems from people thinking fantasy is all 'medieval Europe' which definitely isn't true.

    I think the whole concept of an advance fallen civilization is extremely common in both sci-fi (post-apocalyptic especially) and fantasy so it's not a convention unique to either genre.
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  6. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    You did look at who the first post was, right? I suppose I could have done it, but it get's all mixed in together a lot. Want fantasy in your sci-fi, look to Star Wars, want sci-fi in your fantasy, look to Spelljammer. It's been done, will continue to be done and all that jazz. Might as well make a peanut butter cup out of it eh?
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  7. Malik

    Malik Auror

    You can also write fantasy with technology forming the major plot elements. I'm writing a series of fantasy technothrillers, which are about a looming technological disaster in a fantasy society. People from Earth travel to a fantasy realm and, in the process of "saving" it, inadvertently screw it all up by basically kicking off an arms race.

    Michael Tinker Pearce wrote an amazing series called Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman that also combines fantasy and tech. It's freaking brilliant. And funny.

    Point being, go nuts. Nothing is off-limits.
  8. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    Skyrim from the Elder Scrolls series has an ancient steam powered civilisation that came to an end when an entire race vanished. Now steam powered machines make travelling in the underground ancient ruins very tricky for the pseudo-medieval inhabitants above ground.

    So if you want to combine science fiction with fantasy go for it.
  9. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

    Automaton springs to mind. And my answer is yes, absolutely. I’ve read Atlantis based novels that had ancient technology, and a different one with clockwork mechanisms that could still function. Mr Hero the Newmatic Man is set in the 1800’s, but he is a steam powered automaton and a very interesting character. (Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man - Wikipedia)

    The Mysterious Cities of Gold is a cartoon I loved in my childhood that combines sci-fi with a fantasy/history narrative.
    (The Mysterious Cities of Gold - Wikipedia)
  10. Scott

    Scott Acolyte

    I'm new here too but...

    I love fantasy and science fiction mixed together.

    The 'Man Rides Through' series (or is that one of the books, I can't remember) by Stephen Donaldson has a man in power armour in a fantasy civilisation.. And 'Snare' by Katherine Kerr (I think). The Pern books by Anne McCaffery. The book of the new sun. Lots of great things.

    I've also written some stuff that mixes sci-fi and fantasy.

    If it works, it works.
  11. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    Yes, go for it! And let us know when you publish. I love reading (and writing) fantasy which combines science and magic. I'm not so much into the type that tries to explain the magic scientifically (as Star Wars eventually did) but otherwise it's fun to read.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  12. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

    Anne McCaffrey also combined fantasy with sci-fi.
  13. kaiser_vonhabsburg

    kaiser_vonhabsburg Acolyte

    Are you referring to Science Fantasy? Such things exist, it's just on how you plan to combine the elements and tropes etc. I'm referring to Star Wars and Dune as primary examples. It's perfectly feasible so long as you do it correctly.

    -The Kaiser
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  14. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

    TV Tropes?
  15. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

    Definitely. In fact, I was considering that for my own world: basically, having my current fantasy world be a surviving remnant of an ancient human interstellar civilization. Similar to various theories that Warhammer Fantasy is actually a Feudal World within Warhammer 40 000 galaxy. Which would basically result in medieval humans running into murderous, psychotic robots from aeons ago.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  16. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

    Absolutely! I'm actually doing that with Arcane Magic in my flintlock fantasy story setting. Basically, Arcane Magic can bend the laws of physics but not entirely break them. You can adjust an object's temperature, control electricity, manipulate gravity, give something inertia, and other stuff that's possible through mundane methods but you cannot use Arcane Magic to change someone into a frog or put a curse on them. It's a very science based magic system, in other words. When combined with chemistry, you get Alchemy. When combined with objects, tools, and machinery, you get Arcane Engineering (which is what my protagonist does.) The result is steam engines that use magic to heat water in a boiler in place of wood or coal, light sources that do not rely on fire, gas, or electricity, and gunpowder with special properties, such as not making a lot of smoke.

    But Arcane Technology has the potential to expand into stuff like computers. Arcane Spells are more like computer programs in many regards in how you have to create a sequence of instructions for the magic to follow. Instead of writing out Spells with runes and other symbols, Mages write out the parameters of their Spells in a way that looks a lot like computer coding. Indeed, there are ancient Machina that are essentially magical AI still roaming about the setting. Some of the ancient magic technology is going to have a very sci-fi feel to it. I don't see why the two genres cannot be blended together in all sorts of interesting ways. If anything, I think it's the ultimate challenge for someone writing speculative fiction. You have to find the right balance of sci-fi and fantasy in order to make the story work. It's also just plain fun.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  17. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    Look at some old, vintage Sci-fi - you'll see some weird stuff. Hyperion is a science fiction book about a killer robot. Our protagonists arrive by Tree-Ship. A giant Tree that flies through Space. It only gets more weird from there. Point being, sci-fi doesn't have to be no-nonsense, "no fun allowed" you can push boundaries and do anything.
  18. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

    That's not quite the same as fantasy. Unless the tree is magical/supernatural, of course.
  19. Scott

    Scott Acolyte

    I have a series that is like that is similar. Portals are opened between modern Earth and a group of worlds that are now "fantasy" worlds with magical appearing items that are explained by science. There are elves, dwarves, halflings, trolls, etc that are races genetically engineered tens of thousands of years ago to take on certain roles in spaceships. Then there are aliens and... it's more sci-fi/space opera than fantasy really.
    S.T. Ockenner, Malik and Aldarion like this.

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