Science Fantasy (Part 2): An Expedition

In Part 2 of this blog’s exploration of science fantasy, I’ve decided to send readers on an 8-stop expedition.  You’ll probably find, as I did, that discussions about science fantasy are, for lack of a better phrase, muddy water.   I encourage you to comment on the blogs you visit and become involved in the discussion.  Please do bring your impressions and opinions back here to discuss them, too.

Stop #1 on the expedition: a codified definition of science fantasy

Stops #2-8 on the expedition:  Blogs

Below are links to blogs that discuss science fantasy and science fantasy books (in posted date order)

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4 thoughts on “Science Fantasy (Part 2): An Expedition

  1. An interesting look at a little-known and little-loved genre. Personally, it’s one of my favorites, I love seeing how the authors rationalize the fantastic elements. A good main-stream example of this is a line from the recent Thor film. “Your ancestors called it Magic, but you call it Science. I come from a place where they are one and the same thing.” I generally hesitate to use popular cinema as an example of anything, but that line seems to sum it up very nicely. Heck, I even prefer to place my characters in a similar context. One of my favorite types of character to write is an elemental magic user, but recently I’ve found myself researching the physical processes behind the phenomena I want the character to create, and working them in somehow. (E.g. a Lighting user selectively ionizing the oxygen atoms along a desired path in sufficient arrangement and quantity that the discharge begins and ends where she desires). It’s completely nonsensical and won’t actually work even in highly theoretical quantum physics, let alone boring old Newtonian. But it *sounds* like it should work, and suspension of disbelief generally takes care of the rest.

    I think that’s where a lot of people have problems with Sci-Fa, however. It’s too “slushy”, and has a larger than normal potential to be abused to bring about scenarios that even suspension of disbelief can’t cover. Starfleet doesn’t have a Wizard corps, and Hogwarts doesn’t have a Main Engineering section, but in Star Wars you have telekinesis and magical lightning right alongside starships and laser swords. If that’s possible, what’s to say you can’t have a Werewolf on your ship security detail, or a space-fighter pilot taking lessons at the local Mage’s guild? (My answer would be good taste, but YMMV).

    All in all, however, I’ve found this insightful so far. Looking forward to more!

    • Thanks for the comments, Ryuu. I think you’re right about the potential for abuse. If the magic and the technology or science aren’t “bigger than life,” they’re probably a lot easier for readers to take in stride. (Though . . . one does wonder about that massive, planet-sized, traveling mothership of evil–death star–that never seems to pull space junk into its wake in SW, and yet, we all WANT to suspend disbelief because we want to see it destroyed by Luke and company).

      • I think a larger part has to do with Lucas’ artful misdirection (There are several points where it’s possible, and even encouraged, for the audience to ‘forget’ about the death star) than a desire to not worry about why it’s the only ship that has no visible propulsion system and yet travels so fast it can launch a surprise attack on the rebel base, or that the mechanics behind it’s main cannon are patently ridiculous and appear to be based off of a juvenile understanding of the structure and function of a satellite dish. It’s not so much that we ignore these questions, but more that the movie gives us so much else to focus on that we sort of forget them until after. A film can get away with that, because of the speed of the medium, but I’ve found it transparent in written medium.

      • That’s a great point, Ryuu. Sleight of hand works much better in film than in text, and maybe that’s part of why I love the challenge that writing science-fantasy forces on me. I also think the challenge of blending elements seamlessly allows creativity to explode . . . sorta like a certain death star. 😉

        Thanks for engaging in the conversation. Tell all your friends!

        Mo

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