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Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

fictionScience Fiction vs Fantasy

Science fiction and fantasy are interrelated, and it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. The two terminologies have been widely discussed, and it is very difficult to draw a line between the two. In the words of great writer, Issac Asimov, science fiction has its groundings in science and is possible, whereas fantasy has no grounding in reality, and so is not possible.

Science fiction is said to be possible as it is based on facts. Science fiction can be about robots, space or aliens. On the contrary, fantasy is only imaginary, and not based on facts. Fantasy can be about talking animals or something immortal. Science fiction displays things that could possibly take place in the real world. Fantasy adds realism to things that are unlikely to happen.

When compared to fantasy stories, the imaginary elements in science fiction can largely be possible. Though the plots or themes in science fiction can be contrary to reality, these stories are based on some rational which is absent in fantasy. Unlike science fiction, fantasy uses more supernatural forms and magic in its plot or theme. Supernatural elements are not seen in science fiction.

Both science fiction and fantasy can be divided into many genres. Science fiction can be divided into hard science fiction, soft science fiction, social science fiction, cyber punk, time travel, alternate history, military science fiction, super human, apocalyptic and space. Fantasy can be divided into horror fiction, mystery fiction, super hero fiction, fandom and community.

Fantasy involves things that do not exist in real life. On the other hand, science fiction is almost related to real things, and based on technology and science.

Summary

1. Science fiction has its groundings in science and is possible, whereas fantasy has no grounding in reality, and so is not possible.

2. Science fiction is really based on facts. On the contrary, fantasy is only imaginary, and not based on facts.

3. Fantasy involves things that do not exist in real life. On the other hand, science fiction is almost related to real things, and based on technology and science.

4. Unlike science fiction, fantasy uses more supernatural forms and magic in its plot or theme.

5. When compared to fantasy stories, the imaginary elements in science fiction can largely be possible.

6. Though the plots or themes in science fiction can be contrary to reality, these stories are based on some rational which is absent in fantasy.


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1 Comment

  1. I’ve come across similar distinctions online that I strongly disagree with. To claim that science fiction is rooted in what’s possible or grounded in reality is not only very ideologically biased but presumably excludes a lot of what is traditionally accepted as science fiction (most of the themes in Star Trek, for example, warp travel, a lot of the pseudo science used to describe various anomalies and technology, time travel, energy beings, travel to different parallel universes or dimensions etc.). I would argue that what distinguishes science fiction from fantasy is that speculative events, phenomenon and technology in science fiction can be causally explained (accurately or not) by the laws of physics. What drives magic, for example, is will, intention and wishing, or rituals that have nothing to do with chemistry or physics (ie. the hair from a horse, mixed with vinegar and a certain incantation on a full moon. There’s no physical explanation as to why that should have whatever effect it does but my laptop can be explained via basic chemistry and physics). In a fantasy universe, mental states can have ultimate causal influence on reality or events can occur that, again, can’t be explained by physical determinism, they are random or might have some deep emotional meaning (I’m rereading Kindred, for example, where the main character travels back in time every time her ancestor feels that his life is in danger).

    What’s interesting is that if you accept infinite regression as rationally absurd (and I don’t want to get into why I do or my preferences in terms of science fiction vs. fantasy) there must have been some initial random first cause that can’t be tied to deterministic laws of physics that appear to govern the macro universe. There’s no reason why that thing should have ever occurred, not being caused by anything prior to it.

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