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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Science-Fiction vs. Science-Fantasy

Another one of those items that could fit on at least two of the blogs, I decided to put it here and not on The Rundown because it is really more of a philosophical-type discussion and The Rundown generally deals with more straightforward entertainment.

There are two divisions of science-fiction literature that purists make: science-fiction and science-fantasy. The difference is really very simple: science-fiction includes subjects and situations which theoretically could happen, where science-fantasy deals with things which are considered largely impossible and will never happen.

Of course, the division is somewhat nebulous and many readers fail to lend the whole discussion much credence. Most fans tend to divide their sci-fi into "hard" and "soft" categories, with "hard" correlating to our given definition of science-fiction, and "soft" being science-fantasy.

But these labels are pretty misleading, since such fantastic space operas as Star Trek are often considered "hard" sci-fi simply because they go to such lengths to give "plausible" explanations for their sci-fi gadgetry and other-worldly themes. The Cyberpunk sub-genre is definitively "hard" sci-fi, while the Sci-Fi Channel hit series, Flash Gordon (and its many incarnations outside of the new series), is definitively "soft." Or is it?

Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the "grandfathers" of sci-fi, both wrote several stories detailing various "fantastic" ideas which inspired actual scientists to go out and attempt the very things they'd read about as children. To these ends, science-fantasy became science-fiction on its way to becoming science fact.

It's an interesting discussion and I would love to hear what anyone else has to say on the matter, whether here or in The Humidor.

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