July 14th, 2004

bear by san

*is* there a difference between fantasy and science fiction?

Interesting discussion breaking out over in kijjohnson and papersky about the express or implied differences between fantasy and science fiction.

Here's Kij and here's Jo.

I write both, fantasy and science fiction, and there is absolutely no difference in my process between the two. I do think there's an air of elitism around science fiction these days. For one thing, it doesn't sell as well as fantasy, so it must be more erudite, natch.

However, to argue that fantasy is y (backward-looking, or about 'chosen ones' and internal resources) whereas science fiction is x (forward looking, or concerned with intellectual achievement) ignores vast swaths of both ends of the genre. And the simplistic argument, which is to say that a science fiction novel that subscribes to the chosen-one plotline is fantasy wearing a veneer of science fiction (Dune, anyone? Lensmen? I could go on--) is a logical fallacy, the serpent eating its own tail. "I say that all things of the set including these characteristics are Y: therefore, this thing, although it purports to be Z, is really Y because it includes the characteristics of set Y." Um, no.

That's as problematic as saying that fantasy novels must be "comforting" or end with the created world reset to some ideal, idyllic state, or be backwards-looking. In which case, I think Swanwick's Jack Faust and China Miéville's The Scar are science fiction novels.

I know China's work is purported to fall into a category between SF and Fantasy. That's my point, I think: it's all, to my eye, different angles on the same set of literary techniques.

I actually think fantasy and science fiction are a continuum, which is why I prefer the term speculative fiction. Not because I'm all hoity (I'm all hoity for other reasons), but because I think the division between SF and fantasy is very easy to make: If you call your science magic, you're writing fantasy. If you call your magic science (remember those orbital web-spinning spiders? how about John Varley's Titan books?) then you're writing science fiction.

If you woddle around between, you're writing spec fic.

I'm a lumper, not a splitter. Does it show?
  • Current Mood
    bored pedantic
bear by san

I have slashy cats.

I gave Mith and Ollie each a little piece of calamari; Ollie scarfed his, but Mith wasn't interested.

So Ollie reached over to take Mith's piece, and Mith started washing Ollie's ear, and Ollie hesitated, like "is he gonna hit me?"

And Mith batted his bit of squid over under Ollie's nose and went on washing. They're all curled up on the bed now.

I've seen them bring me and each other dead mice and so forth before, but that was unbelievable.
  • Current Music
    Dar Williams - Flinty Kind of Woman
bear by san

And I say I'll be fine but I don't think that I will.

I have a question that I can't seem to google up a good answer for, and I'm hoping slithytove or porphyrin or somebody else will have an answer for.

Say somebody's hamstrings (the tendons, not the thigh muscles) were intentionally severed, circa 1990 or so, and no treatment was available for that person for the first seventy-two hours after injury. What would the long term repercussions be? Leg braces and a cane? Would complete surgical repair be possible?

I can google up lots of information on care after surgical repair, and on immediate first aid for an accidental rupture, but nothing on the long-term prognosis for somebody who has actually, you know, been classically hamstrung.

  • Current Music
    Dar Williams -- Calling the Moon
bear by san

She was a third generation Transylvanian. I was the seventh son of a seventh son.

The coffee percolater has got to be one of the most ingenious inventions in human history.

In other news, finished a draft of "The Follow Me Light" today, at 5,000 words. It needs a lot of work. I can see that already.

But it needs a lot of work... starting tomorrow. *g* I'm off to bed, to finish Pagan Babies and maybe start Pattern Recognition.

Do you suppose there's a market for Lovecraftian category romance?
  • Current Music
    Richard Thompson - Gypsy Love Songs.