Talk:Science fantasy

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For an intro on the problem of SF classes, look at:

(there's also a "space fantasy" category at the bottom of the page) At18 15:29, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

The Worm Ouroboros[edit]

While this is one of my favorite novels, it is not science fantasy. There are no scientific elements in it. The use of Mercury as the location for the novel is simply a naming convention, similiar to the author's use of "demons" and "goblins." Note that the page for the novel refers to it as "heroic high fantasy," a much more appropriate descriptor.

I recommend that the reference to this novel be deleted from the page. AusJeb (talk) 20:15, 14 May 2008 (UTC)AusJeb 20:03 14 May 2008(UTC)

Science fantasy[edit]

Gentlemen; I would consider science fantasy stories such as Heinlein's

"Magic Inc.", L. Sprague De Camp's "Incomplete Enchanter", and some of Poul Anderson's stories in which magic works, but is subject to scien- tific laws. For example, if a 150 lb man changes into a were(dire)wolf, he must still mass 150 lbs. because of Conservation of Mass/Energy.

Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc. is distinctly *not* Science Fantasy, it is Contemporary Fantasy. Star Wars is, however, definitely Science Fantasy.

Attention to and consistency of set laws in magic does not automatically make something scientific. Further, while the laws of magic descrihed in Magic, Inc. are self-consistent, they are not all based on any form of rational science (i.e. in the Half World, custom and tradition dictates natural law, rather than set physical laws).

Waldo, however, does fit the bill, barely.


There is some question, given the above argument, whether Andre Norton's Witch World is science fantasy. Donald A. Wollheim specifically packaged it as such, which is something Mercedes Lackey dwells on at length in her introduction to the first three books (now in print but I don't have a copy handy so I can't give the information). I'm distinctly unhappy with this very restrictive definition of science fantasy given that in my baby boomer youth it would have been any fantasy which appealled primarily to someone with engineering training --like Kuttner and Moore, or de Camp and any of his collaborators, or Heinlein in "Waldo", "Magic, Inc.", or Glory Road. Or Moorcock's Elric. As Lackey said many people were cynical then about how it was marketed. And I'm willing to argue that this article goes too far in the opposite direction. When I first started messing with this article, it seemed dismissive of all the stories which appeared in the pulps. I was careful to try to discuss Philip Gordon Wylie's The Disappearance outside of genre conventions and marketing ideas because it appeared outside these conventions and marketing tools, but the argument seems to be even though "Magic, Inc." appeared in a magazine which marketed itself as science fantasy, and was written by someone who certainly knew and probably accepted these conventions, it is too rationalistic to be science fantasy. Again, however flawed the older definition was, this is part of a bias which excludes it, and I don't think that's reasonable. The guy who replaced Alexander Cockburn on the "Press Clips" column in The Village Voice had this to say about objectivity in his first column: "A prosecutor's brief is truthful. It is never objective." I truly believe that this article is sometimes too close to advocacy. Jplatt39 10:49, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC) Revised Jplatt39 12:38, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Two different definitions involved[edit]

There seem to be two different definitions of science fantasy, judging by the examples:

  1. Stories with magic that obeys more rational laws than "standard" fantasy magic (Magic, Inc.)
  2. Stories with more-conventional magical powers, but in a high-tech, futuristic setting that is not directly connected to the fantasy element (Star Wars)

Yet only the first is mentioned in the article as an actual definition. So either there is a broader meaning than the article says, or SW is something else. Any sources on which of these is the case?

Nickptar 23:38, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

What about stories like El Goonish Shive, that use magic AND science fiction, in modern settings? Also, what about using technology that combines magic and science in the one things, like was used in the Wotch by D.O.L.L.Y.? How would THEY fit those difinitions? Corrupt one 00:36, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

They are comic strips, and like most such do not bother to attempt to maintain consistency within a genre. These distinctions are most useful in actual printed text contexts. Applying serious analysis of this kind to comix is like dancing about architecture. --Orange Mike 01:13, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

They were just examples. I could mention shows like Buffy, Ah! My Goddess, and a few others. Then there are the comic books, the movies based on them, not to mention the fact that they ARE in the genre, unless you can think of a way of defining them. If they are NOT science fantasy, the ones I have mentioned, then what are they? If you want somthing that deals with printed books, then what about the Shadow Run series of books? If they are not science fantasy, please tell me WHAT they are?

At the very least, tell me what is wrong with saying that science fantasy can be anything that combines science fiction and fantasy. Please do not attack the examples, just the ideas behind them. Corrupt one 06:07, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm not attacking, I'm just saying that it is a futile exercise in many cases to apply any kind of rigorous analysis to a field like comics or television or film where often "anything goes" and the explanations are mere token gestures in the direction of the ideas of logic, consistency, etc. Comic strips, in particular, are about the gag. For most of the things you describe, I gave up decades ago expecting anything serious from them. I enjoyed Buffy, for example, a great deal; but the science, magic and theology alike are all difficult to defend on any but a "I had fun with it" level. There have been a few television shows or films which bothered to pretend that they were creating serious science fiction; but for most of them, a little blend is just par for the course, because the creators don't know or care about the laws of physics or any other science: so spaceships "whoosh" and bank like WW I fighter planes and Lucas gets rich and gets away with it. And don't get me started on that monument to credulousness called X Files.... --Orange Mike 03:28, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Ah, so you are saying that it is how involved, detailed and serious seeming something is that desides if it can or can't be considered? I agree they are silly amusements, but WHAT KIND of silly amusements? I say that science fantasy is any piece of fiction that includes both science fiction and fantasy, and they were just examples. I would also like your determination of the Shadow Run series of books.

To me science fiction is anything made with what is fictional science at the time. Fantasy is anything using magic. Science fantasy is their overlap where fictional science AND magic is used. If I seem to be off the marke there, please tell me how I am. Corrupt one 01:20, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Yes you're missing something[edit]

and I'll even cite my own biases in saying I don't think Star Wars needs to be discussed here because it is discussed in so many articles and at such length elsewhere. Even Princess Leia's slave girl costume is discussed in Planet Stories. Jack Gaughan, aside from being someone I knew personally, did many more things than the covers of the "pirated" Lord Of The Rings editions Ace put out in the sixties. I resent that that incident is discussed in four different articles here. He also designed the original editions of Andre Norton's Witch World. And for that matter Emil Petaja's Kalevala or Otava books which also use fantastic elements in an SF setting. For many of us older folks Gaughan's imagery inspired what we think of as science fiction and fantasy in any sense today. I'm not suggesting Star Wars is unimportant when I say enough already.

I think you are missing the polarity is between stuff which is defined by a mid-century engineering education an dstuff which is influenced by a much more romantic view of the world which owes a lot to H. Rider Haggard, Talbot Mundy and A. Merritt. Star Wars, like the Otava books and to a lesser extent writers like Leigh Brackett, C. L. Moore under her own name and Fritz Leiber, combine the rationalistic impulses of Space Opera and of your first definition with this more romantic approach. Often humorously. The people most closely identified with this romantic approach were Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore in their official and unofficial collaborations. Be warned that even within the genre they both took many approaches to the traditions. Marion Zimmer Bradley is emphatically of the romantic tradition, to name only one (read the Brass Dragon. Carefully). Star Wars isn't a polarity. It's part of a larger group of works which are discussed in this place as well as anything can be. Jplatt39 12:14, 29 May 2005 (UTC) Revised: Jplatt39 07:50, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

A THIRD definition?[edit]

This definition I am adding to this segment comes from The encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholis.

In the entry on Science Fantasy, it mentions that there has never been a clear definition, but latter on states what I wish was the definition in the Wikipedia article

"Science Fantasy is normally considered a bastard genre blending elements of sf and fantasy; it is usually colourful and often bizarre, sometimes with elements of HORROR although never centrally in the horror genre."

This means that you just have to have elemts of science fiction and fantasy. That simple. Is the entry is definition is changed to that, things are much easier! Please tell me your opinions. Corrupt one 03:14, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

RfC/poll – Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker: one article or two?[edit]

What do you think? E Pluribus Anthony 19:35, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

This is not the forum for it. THAT is what I think. Corrupt one 02:35, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

20,000 leages under the sea[edit]

The statement in this article may be incorrect, depending on whether you consider the book or the film. In the book, the power source for the Nautilus was electricity, as generated by chemical reaction. There are sections in the book describing the crew mining the chemicals from an underwater source, and describing the mechanical means used to spin the propellor shaft. In the film it was more or less implied that the power source was nuclear. Presumably the US navy named their first nuclear-powered submarine after the film rather than the book. Murray Langton 10:55, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Where is the fantasy element? Without a fantasy element using magic or other such force, it is just science FICTION. Corrupt one 04:05, 18 May 2007 (UTC)


I largely rewrote this article, partly to consider some other options in the definition of "science fantasy", partly to better organize the discussion of examples of science fantasy; hopefully the organization by subgenres will also lend some clarity to the question of definition. "Other genres" exists primarily because I'm not familiar with the books listed. I suspect a lot of them don't fit into any of the genres listed, however, but in something else which is perhaps "scientific magic".


I moved my paragraph above the sub-genres section, expanded it and gave it a title ("Historical View") I'm a little uncomfortable with, because I'm not comfortable with it being in the "other genres" section when the definition of science fantasy has changed so much over time. I don't see the modern view as making sense without context of the older ones. As Phoenix on the Sword lost its identification as SF while keeping its new title of Conan the Conqueror though both were the work of Donald A. Wollheim I do expect the view that these stories were not Science Fantasy to gain more currency, or for them to inspire differing sub-genres, as some of them, such as Magic, Inc. have.


It was Hour of the Dragon that became Conan the Conqueror. I don't think Wolheim had anything to do with the selection of the new name. The Gnome Press harcover appeared something like two years before DAW started wsork at Ace Books. Without definite proof, I should suspect the name chnage was done by David Kyle or Martin Greenberg at Gnome. They too marketed it as science fantasy. Cdixon 23:48, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Escuse me, but although I admite that Conan, as in Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Conqueror, as made into arnold swatzaneger (or HOWEVER you spell it) movies ARE fantasy, I am interested in finding out what SCIENCE FICTION elements are involved. Without science fiction, they are just fantasy, and not science fantasy. Corrupt one 02:38, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

At the risk of seeming to horn in on an established conversation/building project--[edit]

Reading through the various definition articles in the fantastic-literature field, I am struck at the lack of coordination across them and the amounts of wheel-reinventing and POV writing I see. Some of the terms (science fiction, fantasy) denote reasonably stable genres; others (hard SF, space opera, high fantasy) rise out of particular historical moments and the assumptions and tastes of audience f(r)actions and have suffered from semantic drift; still others (soft SF, low fantasy) are back-formations that are inherently less useful than the terms from which they were formed. "Science fantasy" is a label that depends on notions of both SF and fantasy (and those terms we can see are hardly nailed down, despite the efforts of several generations of professional and amateur critics and scholars) and even more on the practice of writers (and editors) who are in the business of playing games with the expectations of their audiences and the "rules" of the categories they are supposed to be working within. Thanks to the need for novelty and the ingenuity of artists, genres always cross-breed--which is why it is now possible to buy a time-travel historical bodice-ripper at your local B&N.

Why not start with the well-established print authorities and spread out from there? Otherwise the article will become another battleground of POV positions.

BTW, shouldn't it be Robert E. Howard, not Don Wollheim as author of Phoenix on the Sword? And when was Conan considered SF? RLetson 06:04, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually, since Science Fantasy is basically combining elements of science fiction and fantasy, those two things are the only ones that need to be reasonably pinned down, which you have noted that they HAVE been. Thus I see no way in which science fantasy is hard to define. If you are having troubles with this, please let me know so I can talk to you more about it latter. Corrupt one 03:49, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

While Science Fiction and Fantasy are clearly defined, O Corrupt one, the use of the term Science Fantasy to describe the combinations of them has changed over time. What began as a rationalist attempt to co-opt fantasy became a marketing label which made some of the more far out forms of speculative fiction "safe" for young readers (if it's science then it can't be bad). When the New Wave made literature respectable in the genre and the label "Fantasy" became safe it became over time what it is today. There are several mixes of SF and Fantasy which are clearly defined as Science Fantasy, and some which are probably not, such as Leonora Carrington's The Stone Door or Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It isn't always easy to define Science Fantasy. Is Fletcher Pratt's Well of the Unicorn? Jplatt39 15:00, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

My part was mainly in responce to the part above it that said the definition of Science fantasy depends on the definition of science fiction and fantasy, and that despite all attempts, they have not been nailed down. I was merely pointing out that they HAD been defined, and that most definitions of Science Fantasy I have come across is basically combining science fiction and fantasy. You mentioned that "There are several mixes of SF and Fantasy which are clearly defined as Science Fantasy . . ." I would like to know HOW you can have different mixes of SF and Fantasy, with some NOT labled Science Fantasy. Please tell me.

PS, I have not read any of those books, of even heard of them.

Corrupt one 00:28, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

[[User:Jplatt39|Jplatt39]} has continued this on my talk page. Please look at it Corrupt one 23:58, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

This is the discusion as it was added to my talk page. Corrupt one 02:09, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I would like to know HOW you can have different mixes of SF and Fantasy, with some NOT labeled Science Fantasy. Please tell me.

Had you followed the Leonora Carrington link you would have discovered that she is a surrealist. For a time she was Max Ernst's girlfriend. Thus, one book which essentially uses many surrealist techniques of automatic writing and collage does contain elements of both extrapolation and fantasy. William S. Burroughs who collaged his great quartet, Naked Lunch, Ticket that Exploded, Soft Machine and Nova Express uses a lot of SF techniques and motifs. At one point he even includes passages from Henry Kuttner's Fury in Nova Express. Neither Burroughs nor Carrington is a conventional narrative. In fact, one story about Naked Lunch was that while Burroughs was typing it, Alan Ginsberg was picking up pages off the floor and putting them together in whatever order. What makes this credible is that many pages from the quartet, whether his own or Kuttner's, are avowedly cut up and pasted back together according to a visual, not verbal, logic.

I won't bother describing Chabon. He is so new you can go to your local library and pick that book up. Even if you don't like "fine writing" as opposed to storytelling, I suggest you do so. Our library has it, and I live way out in the sticks. A somewhat older book is Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon which is described as a Post-Modernist book in the article about it, but is probably Late Modernist. I remember my first time through it it took me about a year to read the first 200 pages, up to the start of Part 3: In the Zone then two weeks to read the rest, which is about eight hundred. He'd already dealt with the theme of secret conspiracies in The Crying of Lot 49. Dan Brown owes a lot to him. Gravity's Rainbow is set among engineers who have been called in to work for the Allies in the aftermath of World War II. This background was so familiar to the SF community (Heinlein, Asimov and de Camp had all done their time in related work) it was nominated for the Nebula Award. Although this book can be a tough read, I do advocate reading it. That's why the only other thing I'll say about it is that the title describes the arc of a V2 rocket, which hits (I believe, it's been some years) Antwerp on the first few pages of the book, and is launched on the last page of the book. Time, which appears to be straightforward, runs in both directions in it.

Most of the books which are labeled "genre" titles have a relatively conservative approach to narrative. Many which are not don't. The SF community coopted Robert Graves's Seven Days in New Crete a.k.a Watch the North Wind Rise. I don't have a problem with that. But while it does, like most of his books, take a conservative approach to fiction, is it Fantasy or Science Fantasy? It's rationalism of a unique kind, in a way which the books I've cited are not.

Thus narrative strategy is one way you can mix up the elements. Only one way. Jplatt39 09:58, 24 May 2007 (UTC) (revised Jplatt39 09:21, 25 May 2007 (UTC))

Another thought. I happen to have a very low opinion of Scientology. This has nothing to do with Hubbard's background as a pulp writer (I wish the Westerns were more available). At the lowest level, when Edgar Cayce was asked about A Dweller in Two Planets, he reportedly said something to the effect that it wasn't true in a literal sense but it contained much wisdom. Since Hubbard was a student of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and of Aleister Crowley, there is a lot of occult wisdom under those Science Fiction trappings. In fact the thing that bugs me about it the most is the Gnosticism of its worldview; the elements it has in common with the Nag Hammadi Library. I'm not comfortable with that Rush Limbaugh-esque worldview.

Most of the pulp writers were well-educated by any reasonable standard. Leigh Brackett and A. E. Van Vogt both acknowledged using elements of I, Claudius. While there are many common approaches and motifs in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and any other genre covered by the label "Speculative Fiction", you also have many unique and original voices who are well aware of what is going on outside the field. And you have outsiders who are aware of what is going on inside. The boundaries are less hard and fast than they may appear. Jplatt39 12:15, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

I myself have read some of those books, and I must say that although there is surrealism in them, surrealism does not mean it contains fantasy. I consider Hubbards works to be Science fiction, as those I have read of them do not contain magic in any form. Same with Gravities rainbow, which I happen to own and have read. I wonder what YOUR qualifier for Science Fantasy is. If you tell me, maybe I can better understand where you are coming from. Corrupt one 23:50, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

As far as my view of what Science Fantasy is, Historical View is mostly my work (except for the last paragraph which corrects one of my statements in the paragraph before and would improve the section if it were moved above the paragraph before). I do not accept that discussion as a full description of what Science Fantasy is, but that is the basis for my labeling something Science Fantasy or not. Your question was about how you can have different mixes of Fantasy and SF, with some not labeled Science Fantasy. The Graves book and Gravity's Rainbow show that not everything which the community accepts as their own, whether as SF or Fantasy or anything else, comes from the community. It is true that the examples I cited tend towards SF (and I don't have any particular references beside me right now) but I'm referring to genre politics.

I first read Jorge Luis Borges and Stanislaw Lem in Don Wollheim–edited anthologies. And R. V. Cassell's The Flying Boy in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Cassell was amused by that. Reportedly so was Borges. Lem's, ahh, discussions with SFWA have been discussed in the article about him and on various websites. Leaving aside Carrington, the Burroughs book illustrates something you are missing: Burroughs was not part of the community. Kuttner was. That Burroughs appropriates other motifs (the routine about the telepaths who have a method of escape from the lynch mob for example) doesn't change that he is exactly appropriating. I heard him read at Brown University once. The experience was chilling. Still, it convinced me that his anecdotes and stories are exactly the "routines" he called them. The way he is telling these things are more important than the stories themselves. I already saw the Kuttner material that way, as he had been explicit about it in the book. That convinced me that in serious literature the method of telling was as important and sometimes more important than the ostensible subject matter. My Fine Arts education has reinforced this distinction. And that one answer to your question: if the SF and/or Fantasy material is used in a role subordinate to the storytelling, then it is not Science Fantasy. One more example is surreal but not fantastic: Francis Picabia used a lot of popular/ pulpish material in his so-called "bad paintings" during the World War II era. While this work is sometimes difficult to look at, like Magritte's "bad" paintings both, with study, present a powerful artistic statement.

As far as Hubbard goes, while I have by no means read all his pulp fiction (and have met only a few people who have) he was a writer of considerable breadth who in his pulp career demonstrated a versatility which goes far beyond any particular genre. There were Westerns and, I believe, Pirate stories and tails of the High Seas as well as SF such as old Doc Methuselah and Fantasy such as Slaves of Sleep, with its Arabian Nights Background, and Typewriter in the Sky, which is by any reasonable measure fantasy. In his introductions to the Harold Shea stories, L. Sprague de Camp describes his and Fletcher Pratt's reactions to Hubbard killing off Shea in one of his stories. Those facts alone would suggest he is a part of the community. At the same time, I brought him up in particular to make two points: One, pulp, and I don't specifically mean pulp SF, writers were by and large a very well-educated group. While he was a part of the SF community, he contributed to most pulp magazines and calling him just SF is reductionist (George Evans is famous for his comic strip and book work, but he drifted into the field when the Aviation pulps collapsed and his first love was always airplanes). Being part of any community doesn't restrict you to only being part of the community.

The second point was that with Scientology's Science Fiction trappings, Hubbard has a lot more in common with George Gurdjieff (of whom Idries Shah said he specifically went to London to provide his followers with authentic teachings) and P. D. Ouspensky than it appears on the surface. He and Gurdjieff (who Ouspensky studies with) both studied with esoteric teachers. Gurdjieff's teachers were mostly Muslims, as related in Meetings with Remarkable Men and one of many suggestions about how his work developed was that he was forced to become who he did when relations soured with the Sufis because he could not become a Muslim. That Hubbard's teaching is different reflects both his study of a different esoteric tradition (and documents have come out from students of the Golden Dawn suggesting that it MAY have been both a broader study and a deeper one than most people who discuss it care to admit) and his place in American Religious thought (If you get over Joseph Campbell's discussions about archetypes and specific myths, and move on to his ideas about how these beliefs have evolved, you will find that it should be possible to find language which will put Scientology in a context with Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, the Shakers, and Fundamentalists without controversy). Thus this was an afterthought. Hubbard is mentioned in the Science Fantasy article as the author of Slaves of Sleep and Typerwriter in the Sky. He's relevant to the discussion both on that point, and as someone who at one time or another was friends (in the case of Heinlein even close for a while) of many of the writers whose works first were labeled Science Fantasy.

Jplatt39 13:52, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

Although I have read a FEW of those books you mentioned, I am no expert in littiture, and thus can't know all the details of them. I noticed you went onto a lot of detail about thing you consider to be science fantasy, but have NOT provided a definition of it. How can I understand WHAT you mean by science Fantasy if you will not provide a simple definition. I do NOT want something complex, or talking about the authors intent or style. I also never mentioned scientology at at, you did. The last sentence I made was a first referance to it.

If you can't tell me WHAT you mean by Science Fantasy, how can we have any discusion about the matters concerning it?

Also, shouldn't this REALLY be in the Science Fantasy discuion page?

Corrupt one 02:10, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

That is the last of what had been added to my talk page. I put it here as it best beliongs to THIS talk page, and I would like peoples comments. Corrupt one 02:09, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I must admit to a mistake on my part. I USED to have Gravities Randow, but gave it away ages ago. I was thinking another book. Please, do not let that stop you fro telling what you think Science Fantasy is in simple terms. Corrupt one 01:05, 2 June 2007 (UTC)


Bad phrasing and mistake: Don Wollheim published Hour of the Dragon back to back with Sword of Rhiannon as an Ace Double. In doing so he was presenting it to a Science Fiction Audience. He also retitled it Conan the Conqueror, which title Glen Lord and L. Sprague de Camp used as the basis for their Lancer publications of a Conan canon. I don't think it is arguable that Wollheim was presenting this as Science Fantasy (and I used to see both Science Fantasy and Science Fiction abbreviated as SF in the sixties). I meant Wollheim was the author of the title and of the argument it was Science Fantasy (deliberately or not). Not that he was the author of the story (he was David Grinnell and Donald A. Wollheim).

The second point is that while there are well-established print authorities, they disagree with each other as much as we do. I state in my User profile I don't believe in objectivity and I don't. In many topics, including some SF/Fantasy subgenres, a reasonably comprehensive discussion will be (IMHO) a battleground of POV opinions. Since I'm loud on this one, I'm hoping the various POVs allow for a fair discussion of all sides.

I started when I read this:

". One might claim that science fiction provides a scientific explanation for all phenomena, whereas fantasy mostly takes the supernatural for granted. However, the "science" behind these explanations is often no more than mumbo-jumbo, especially in the pulp magazines. Hence, it might be said that the difference is more one of stage props: on the one hand we have spacecraft and phasers, on the other hand magic carpets and wands of smiting."

I added the references to L. Ron Hubbard and Robert A. Heinlein, and near the top you can read a blatant denial that Heinlein's science fantasy is science fantasy (despite it being written for a market which was trying to change fantasy by infusing it with the rationalism and logic of so-called Hard Science Fiction).

All of these statements are true, in the sense that whoever succeeded Alexander Cockburn on Press Clips for the Village Voice said "A Prosecutor's brief is truthful. It is not objective."

At this point, I'll stick to citing authorities for certain facts AND for certain points of view which I will present openly, as points of view (educated opinions) because I've been in so many "My Authority is better than yours" games. On the other hand while I'll even admit to being rude here, I hope the other side doesn't shut up. Since I added that comment about the John W. Campbell Jr. writers, this article has gotten much richer and more informative. I don't care whether I convince anyone or not. I do care whether all the issues are touched on, and that's improving constantly. Jplatt39 15:09, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

OK--I guess my academic training kicks in when I see articles that are basically extended definitions, which means the job starts in lexicography, which in turn means examining the term's usage in a historical context. Thus the lead section would always take the form of a brief definition (or reasonably limited set of definitions), followed by an explanation (if needed) of origin and context and possible drift or shift or spread. The fact that authorities differ would be a signal that the range of possible meanings is one the issues the article needs to address. When you add to mix the fact that these terms are not just genre labels (and thus subject to shift as artists and markets do their work) but often nonce terms, back-formations, and other products of the popular imagination, you really need to stand back and account for the variations rather than argue a case that X or Y is the "true meaning" of the term. This is an urge I fight nearly every time I read a Wiki article that crosses into territory where I have strong professional expertise. So I've tried to internalize what I understand to be the Wiki approach and not impose my own POV (which after nearly 40 years of studying, teaching, and writing about fantastic literature is very well formed).
As for the matter of which references to cite--there really are major authorities who ought to be consulted. I'd say that Gary Wolfe's Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy (which takes a solid lexicographical approach), the Clute/Nicholls/Grant Encyclopedias of SF and Fantasy, Anatomy of Wonder, and (for historical detail and context) the historical/critical work of Kingsley Amis, Brian Aldiss, Damon Knight, James Blish, Donald Wollheim, and so on. RLetson 16:22, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

This Article is Irrelevant[edit]

This article is irrelevent for the simple reason that science fantasy has not been established as a true genre in literature or film, and given the fact that the definition of fiction and fantasy are both the same, dubbing a new genre "science fantasy" over science fiction is redundant. The contents of this article are based on the opinions of the editors and of certain literary elements, and fail to take into the account that "science fantasy" is being passed off as a genre, either for literature or film. Copious amounts of references are made to the blending of fantasy elements with scientific ones, yet such is the exact practice of science fiction.

It seems unconstructive and outright absurd to have an article devoted to a nomenclature devised to pass off as a specific genre; the point should be stressed, that in in real terms, science fiction and science fantasy are both the same thing. Fu2x89x

Although fiction that used things that did not really exist int he world was ORGINALLY called fantasy, and some people still define it as such, Fantasy is considered by most people to be fiction involving magic and other non scientific things. Science Fiction, on the other hand, is where fictional science is used. Science Fantasy is the overlapping area.

Since a large number of people accept Science fantasy as a common term, then I would say that it means that there is no way science fantasy can be considered irrelevant. If yu disagree, please tell me WHERE I am wrong. Corrupt one 02:43, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Science Fiction and Science Fantasy are not the same thing[edit]

I don't know what you mean by "true genre". Science fantasy is a sub-genre. The first use I've seen was when the circle around John W. Campbell, Jr. tried to apply the methods they used to science fiction to stories based on traditional folk beliefs and legends. There was an alternative market for this kind of story: if it was less rationalist (though it could still be pretty rationalist as witness Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories) it could appear in Weird Tales.

A Fan of Wollheim's generation told me the definition first broadened because most people thought of Wagner when they thought of Fantasy, and 1. a certain German of Austrian origin (we must not speak Voldemart's name) was a Wagner fan, and 2. most SF people (with prominent exceptions such as Asimov who would probably have denied it) weren't opera fans. Ace books packaged Conan the Conqueror and even Lord of the Rings (briefly and notoriously) the same way they published Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner. A further influence in its broadening was Michael Moorcock. Wollheim, among others (but Wollheim also published him) accused him of trying to ruin Science Fiction by publishing the New Wave. Moorcock's early Elric stories were first published in the magazine Science Fantasy but of course it was the introduction of "literary" writers like J. G. Ballard and Tom Disch which Wollheim et. al. objected to, and which provided new perspectives many people have used to say this or that which uses SF elements and fantasy elements equally, as opposed to using rationalist techniques on folklore, is science fantasy. Moorcock's final word on the subject was "it's all fun anyhow."

As far as the definitions of fiction and fantasy being the same, I don't know where you got your definitions from, but you're drawing the wrong conclusion. Algis Budrys, reviewing a Philip K. Dick book for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction said something to the effect that you could look at writing a story as the equivalent of building a mechanical mouse. A mimetic writer would try to make it look and behave mouse-like, making sure every hair was in place, and say, "Behold, a mouse". Someone like Dick would come along and give it five wheels and paint it multiple colors and let you see the springs... I forget which genre writer, it might have been Asimov, who said "All fiction is science fiction." Of course the truth is that SF and fantasy are both specific forms of fiction. And so are the books, or novels, of Leonora Carrington which contain few realistic elements but are openly surreallist--she was associated with the movement-- rather than related to this genre even as much as Thomas Pynchon is. Unless you are talking about daydreams a fantasy is a form of fiction because fiction is one incredibly broad umbrella under which many artistic gestures from many different cultures can be gathered. Even in today's terms, there is a lot of SF which should be excluded from Science Fantasy.

While I've had occasional problems with this article (and comments above like Magic, Inc. isn't science fantasy) I believe in its current form it reasonably reflects the various things people regard as science fantasy, discusses them in a way it is better to discuss here than elsewhere, and covers both sides of most controversies fairly (I don't believe in objectivity). As Moorcock said, "It's all fun anyhow." Jplatt39 12:24, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

I THINK what Jplatt is trying to say is that Fantasy and Science Fiction are both types of Fiction. Fantasy is when you use magic, and Science Fiction is when you use fictional science. Science Fantasy is when you use magic AND science in the one story. Read a Shadow Run novel. They use both magic and high tech. Corrupt one

04:03, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I think this is the big misconception with this topic and this article to begin with. Science Fiction may include magic and other fantasy elements. This does not change the genre. A Mystery novel with one gory murder scene does not become a Horror novel... thus, a Sci-Fi novel where swords are used does not become "fantasy". I think that it is proper to include "fantasy" in the genre listing of a book that includes fantastic elements like magic, but, it is not proper to remove the term "science fiction" from that same list of genres. In other words, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror as the genre entry is a bit more fair and descriptive. Here's the checklist for Science Fiction:
1) Does it involve scientific concepts (technology, scientific method, evolution, biology, chemistry, speculation about the future or past wherein technology is altered) as a central SETTING or THEME?
2) Is it fictional?
-If you answer yes to either of these, then the work is a science fiction genre title.
Fantasy is as follows:
1) Does it involve fantastic elements (magic, imaginary creatures, artifacts, legends, lore? Alternative pasts, pantheons, etc?) as a central SETTING or THEME?
2) Is it fictional?
-If you answer yes to either of these, then the work is a fantasy genre title.
Can it be both? Yes. But that does not make a new genre. That makes it hold multiple genres. Science Fantasy is not an actual genre, regardless of how many times it's been used by whichever writers of the past. If they had put the word fiction in between those two words, then, yes, but honestly, I just assume it's there. It doesn't matter that Buck Rogers uses a sword sometimes. It's still science fiction. The use of swords is not a major part of the setting or theme any more than the use of forks and spoons. JudgeX (talk) 14:47, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Fantasy used to be the name for all stories set in fantastical world. It did not matter if it was by science or magic. The word Fantasy has changed to focus on the magic part. Science Fantasy USED to be the name for what we now consider Science fiction worlds, instead of contemporay Sci Fi. However, since Fantasy changed to focus on magic, it now has a second definition, that of stories that combine science fiction and magic. Corrupt one 02:28, 5 June 2007 (UTC)


In the Sword and Planet section someone changed the words "his imitators" to "other works" citing the Wikipedia's No Point of View policy. I changed it back citing Lin Carter, Kenneth Bulmer (and I may be shaky on that one) and Michael Moorcock (referring to his own Edward P. Bradbury trilogy). The more I think about it the more I believe this is a philosophical question: the obvious rationale for the change is the idea that original is better. These books in particular were written to have fun and to make money, The whole subject seems to have more to do with commerce than with academics, and I worry that by imposing too strict a standard on the language we won't be removing too much relevent information. It seems to me the sort of language one might hear in a Hollywood Pitch session should be acceptable for a subject like this. In this case, No Point Of View has been used to exclude language at least some of the creators would have accepted, and as such it colors the history with a point of view. "A prosecutor's brief is truthful. It is not objective." Jplatt39 13:30, 21 July 2006 (UTC)


I've heard superhero comics (at least the majority of them) been described as science fantasy, I can't say where exactly, but it makes sense. Jztinfinity 00:14, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Like Thor?[edit]

It certainly does in the case of someone like Thor. For the original Captain Marvel (shazam) it is well to remember that one of the other characters Fawcett had was Ibis the Invincible. Neither makes sense except as out and out fantasy. With Superman you have a different problem. Gladiator by Philip Wylie was incredibly influential on the character. It is also one of the most science-fictional of Wylie's SF and Fantasy books. Since comics were driven by the need to appeal to diverse audiences and their need to sell the whole product line (hence crossovers) you're probably going to run into a whole host of point of view problems if you bring that up here. Um. There were debates about Don Wollheim's politics and his propensity to change titles which were going on on his biography page. I found myself cautiously adding one statement which addressed both. The debate is gone but my statement is there. In other words, you can argue this or that character (Man-Wolf) may be Science Fantasy. Someone will disagree. The debate may bring out salient facts but it probably won't be appropriate for the Wikipedia and further may distract from informing people about what the salient facts are. If there is another page where you can insert things you know without appearing to pass judgement or at least making a judgement call, those are more appropriate places to do so. Jplatt39 01:32, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

I say that since those comics use fantasy (thor) and science Fiction (Captain America) in the very same groups, then YES, they can be science fantasy! I would like to know how they CAN'T be. Corrupt one 04:06, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
scifi-fantasy is space opera basically, the ultimate artform of the west. Hidden dialogue and cheesy effects; Starwars, dune, superheroes you name it.

Magic science[edit]

This appears to be a reference to dying Earth fiction, like Jack Vance. Especially since the only reference is a game. Does anyone have info that this term for the subgenre is widely used? Goldfritha 02:42, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

You seem to have nailed it.[edit]

Google and Altavista both list kits for teaching science under the name "magic science". The game's website specifies it's a "dying" world. Do what you think right to it. Jplatt39 10:47, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

There is Technomancy and magitech, each which is distinct from alchamy in that they consider magic and science to be seperate forces that can work together. I am interested in making an article on magitech mysel;f and would like any research you can send my way. Thanks, Corrupt one 06:10, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

impossible and implausible[edit]

“scientifically impossible features such as faster-than-light travel, time travel, and paranormal powers like telepathy.”

I change it from impossible to implausible on the grounds that saying they are outright impossible seem at little to sweeping

Joeyjojo 03:15, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

What is impossible when using science fiction, let alone fantasy, or science fantasy? Corrupt one 04:09, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

For SF: violations of the rules of math (2+2=5); violations of the known laws of science without credible introduction of new scientific principles which explain the apparent violation(s). And for fantasy: if the rules of the fantasy are not consistent within the narrative, then it becomes moronic and impossible to continue with (which may explain why so much television pseudo-SF is unbearable). --Orange Mike 04:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I'll give you the maths, but the topic here was that things were not possible at all in science fantasy. In science FICTION, all kinds of devises can be made, so as a whole almost everything can be done scientifically (Mad Science DOES count, even if it seems to look at the rules of physics as like a book written in another language in in the same colour of the page, thus making almost ANYTHING possible there). Fantasy uses magic, and while I agree magic most often DOES follow rules, almost anything is possible, expessy when Gods are involved (even more so if they are drunk, high, stones, and having moodswings as a result of madness [makes for some ammusing storylines, though]).

Besides, this is all besides the point. The point is that everthing can be explained away with science fantasy, and I was agreeing with the original comment. Corrupt one 00:18, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Cannon-fired spacecraft[edit]

The article uses Jules Verne's story of a cannon-fired spacecraft as an example of an “impossible” device, saying ...the cannon that launched the Columbiad in Verne's From the Earth to the Moon is now known to be certainly unfeasible in theory as well as fact. This is incorrect; the concept has been researched recently and is considered plausible, using cannons with additional propellant chambers. See Project HARP, Supergun, Project Babylon, Gerald Bull. I suggest using a different example instead. Freederick 10:04, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

How is this science FANTASY? It is science fiction, as far as I can see, since there is no magic involved. Corrupt one 04:01, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Changing definitions[edit]

Science fantasy actually has TWO definitions I hve found.

The first one lays in the old definition of Fantasy, which is any work that takes place in a fantasical world. From this come Science Fantasy which means Science fiction in a fantastical world. Examples would include The Time Machine by HG Wells. Jules Verne's Vouyage to the Moon, and other such stories. That is opposed to contemporary Science Fiction, which was based on the current world.

As the term Fantasy was changed to mean stories about magic, so to did Science Fantasy change its meaning. this second definition reflects that by being stories that contain magic and science fiction both in them.

Anne McCaffrey has been put on record denying her Pern series of Books being Fantasy as the dragons are all bases on SCIENCE, not magic. This helps reflect the change of meaning.

I would like your input. Corrupt one 02:38, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Since you're looking for input, I think another look at Anne McCaffrey's stories might be a good idea. Not only did the early ones first appear in John Campbell's "Hard Science Fiction" (as opposed to Space Opera like those Emil Petaja Otava novels I've mentioned) Analog Science Fiction and Fact but Campbell hired wildlife illustrator John Schoenherr to do the first covers and illustrations. Given that Jack Gaughan was certainly available, that editorial decision does indicate that Campbell and by extension its early audience never intended to read them the way they read Andre Norton's Witch World novels. Schoenherr's official biography states he is an Emeritus Member of the American Society of Mammologists. Campbell tended to use him when speculations about interesting aliens suggested someone with a solid grounding in biology. He did the first Sand Worms, again, visualizing these creatures while Herbert, like MacCaffrey, was writing what became the first novels to win them a wider audience outside the field. While Analog was a prestige market, both MacCaffrey and Herbert had good enough reputations so they could have sold these stories to anyone they wanted (Herbert was most closely identified with Galaxy Science Fiction at the time). The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction would have brought as much welcome attention, which would have been helpful in selling those books, and would have welcomed the stories being written however the authors pleased (something Campbell wasn't known for). That most peoples' impressions of the Dragonflight novels first comes from the Ballantine/Del Rey books which play up the fantasy elements visually, doesn't change that fantasy had only a very superficial role in its creation. Norton reportedly cherished a large page by Gaughan where he worked out the visual concepts which dominated his illustrations to the Witch World Series. He brought an eclectic and broad knowledge of the history of Technology, of art, and of Science into his simple illustrations. You can argue by this what I've said that these books were science fantasy. The truth is she wrote Juvenile novels, very well. The Murdoc Jern stories had covers by Robin Jacques before Jeff Jones got the paperback covers. Jacques was a childrens book writer and author. Eventually the Witch World stories started appearing in hardcover. As Juveniles. With Gaughan covers. If you want to be reductionist, then yes they are science fantasy, or no, they are juvenile novels. MacCaffrey's denial that her books are fantasy relates to more than just simple pontificating: her process was more grounded in the study of biology on some levels than is the case with most books. Campbell would have assured it.

As far as your suggestion that Verne and Wells are fantastical, this would suggest that Philip Wylie is fantastical, which to some minds cheapens and demeans the satire of works like The Savage Gentleman which inspired Doc Savage, or Gladiator, an acknowledged influence on Superman. Jplatt39 14:07, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Corrupt One: It would help if you could cite sources for the old and new senses of "science fantasy" you suggest--if there has been a change, then it should be possible to trace/map/outline it and show something about how the term has shifted and in what direction. Gary K. Wolfe's entry in Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy does some of that, pointing to Judith Merril's use of it "as a generic term that blurred the boundaries between science fictigon and fantasy, and thus permitted the inclusion of both kinds of stories in [her] anthologies." Like Brian Stableford (in the Nicholls & Clute Encyclopedia of Science Fiction entry), Wolfe sees the term as imprecise. Stableford says that it "does not necessarily contain [supernatural elements], though these may be present, often in quasirationalized form." He continues, "Science Fantasy is is normally considered a bastard genre blending elements of sf and fantasy." Wolfe and Stableford both recommend Brian Attebery's essay on the subject in Twnetieth-Century American Science Fiction Writers, Part 2: M-Z (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 8, part 2). Then there's the SF Citations for the OED site, where there are several entries, including this one, in which it is pretty much equals "science fiction" (; and this one, which reflects the "normal" sense referred to by Stableford ( (The book that came out of the "jessesword" site is now out, but I haven't seen it: Brave New Words, Should be pretty useful.) RLetson 04:29, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I will start to cite referances from Dictionaries, encyclopdias and other things, but I will take me a little time to put them together.

Also, Jplatt39, when you start going on, I can't make out what you are saying. Please stay to the point. Also, when you say things like the chaoice of cover illustartion indicates how something was mean to be read there are two problems. First of all, most people don't know and don't care who the illustrator was, only how well the draw and in what style. Secondly, it may be classified as original research, and faulty at that, since it does not seem to have anything backing it up. I would appreciate it if you could stick to the FACTS in future. I do NOT appreciate getiing over a monitor full of your ramblings that I can't make sense of.

Oh, incidentally, Jplatt39, what do YOU mean by Science Fantasy? It is a bit hard to understand what you mean by it when you don't come out and say WHAT you think it is. Please you simple terms and do NOT go on and on with examples about minor parts. I put a similar request on my discusion page when you added more to it, but you mustn't of read it. It would help me a lot. Thanks. Corrupt one 23:48, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I just double checked, but on the article page there is no definition of Science Fantasy quoted. Here is a definition I found before and put on the discuion page. It was under "A third definition?"

This definition I am adding to this segment comes from The encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholis.

In the entry on Science Fantasy, it mentions that there has never been a clear definition, but latter on states what I wish was the definition in the Wikipedia article

"Science Fantasy is normally considered a bastard genre blending elements of sf and fantasy; it is usually colourful and often bizarre, sometimes with elements of HORROR although never centrally in the horror genre."

To help show the difference in the definitions, would you mind providing some? I sure that since some people out there are very into litriture, they would of looked at the definitions. Corrupt one 23:54, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Serling's definition[edit]

I removed the two paragraphs that state objections to Serling's definition, because the objections don't seem to me to make sense. I hope editors will give some thought to this, so here are the two paragraphs.

One problem with this definition is that it depends, not so much upon what the real world actually is like (human knowledge of what is possible being at best an approximation) but upon local and temporary conceptions of what the real world is like. According to this definition, H.G. Wells's The World Set Free was "science fantasy" in 1913, because it described a technology not known to be possible at the time, but by the 1930s, when atomic fission could be contemplated, it had become science fiction. On the other side of the coin, under this definition, much early "science fiction" like Jules Verne's, intended to be plausible extrapolations of existing technologies when written, might now be considered "science fantasy" on the basis of its impossibility: the cannon, the Columbiad, that launched the projectile in Verne's From the Earth to the Moon is now known to be certainly unfeasible in theory as well as fact. However, it is presented with the utmost (pseudo-)scientific seriousness: there is no hint of fantasy about the cannon at all.
Another problem is that using this definition, a good deal more than half of all stories published as "science fiction" would ultimately be classifiable as science fantasy, for employing little more than handwaving for scientifically implausible features such as faster-than-light travel, time travel, and paranormal powers like telepathy. [1]

The reason I don't think these are valid objections is that Serling specifically says that "science fantasy makes the impossible plausible." Wells' story was never science fantasy in this definition, because it didn't actively contradict existing knowledge. Not contradicting existing knowledge is one of the basic principles of normal science fiction. The author is entitled to almost any sort of circumvention of present knowledge, but not to flatly contradict it. Thus, faster-than-light travel requires some sort of dodge that gets around the speed-of-light limit, but is not absolutely forbidden in science fiction. To be science fantasy in Serling's definition, the story might postulate that one could accelerate very hard to reach c+.001, which does contradict known (and well supported) science.

This said, I don't claim that Serling's definition is the only one possible; but the two paragraphs above don't seem to constitute an objection to it. Zaslav 00:00, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Serling's definition appears to be misquoted. He did not actually address or even mention the science fantasy genre explicitly, if Science fiction#Definitions is correct. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:32, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
"It's been said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things: science fiction the improbable made possible; fantasy, the impossible made probable" (Rod Serling "The Fugitive" Twilight Zone March 9, 1962)
I should point out that by the then prevalent Newtonian mechanics of 1913 H.G. Wells's The World Set Free was science fantasy and even by Einstein standards some 20 years later Wells was still talking nonsense--"...the three atomic bombs, the new bombs that would continue to explode indefinitely... This liberated fresh inducive, and so in a few minutes the whole bomb was a blazing continual explosion. ... To this day, though indeed with a constantly diminishing uproar and vigour, these explosions continue." In the real world an atom bomb explodes ONCE--period end of sentence; Wells' atomic bombs continued to explode "day to day, and even from hour to hour". Even by the standards of 1930 his atomic bombs were impossible.
I recommend reading GURPS Steampunk for an incite on the mindset the 19th century and what constituted science fiction by their standards--Frankenstein for instance was science fiction for the time (1818) Shelly wrote it but by our modern standards it is science fantasy.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:03, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure Serling's definition really ought to be credited to Serling. It's remarkably similar to a quote that's widely attributed to American mystery and science fiction author Miriam Allen de Ford: "Science fiction deals with improbable possibilities, fantasy with plausible impossibilities."

It might be of some interest that she wrote Death in the Family, which appeared as a program segment on Rod Serling's Night Gallery TV series. Tiberius P Cowberry (talk) 07:12, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Some OR in the article?[edit]

I am refering to the part that reads in the "Science Fiction VS Science Fantasy" segemtn that reads "Arthur C. Clarke's dictum that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" indicates why this is so:"

I may be off, but this seems to me to be using the Law as an explanation they have figured out. That is OR. I would like peoples oppions and ideas on how beast to remove this, without greatly affecting the segment. Corrupt one (talk) 00:15, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Sci-fi books about fantasy VR games[edit]

I have recently been working on articles on two novels, Piers Anthony's Killobyte and Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent. They are both about virtual reality games set in medieval times, with magic and dragons. The books themselves are technically science fiction, but because most of the plot takes place within the game, it has the trappings of fantasy. When I came to the article on Heir Apparent, in fact, it was called a fantasy. I changed the article to say it was both science fiction and fantasy. Would books like these qualify as science fantasy? marbeh raglaim (talk) 00:27, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

No, because there is nothing in the books to imply that the fantasy elements are anything other than a fiction within the game setting. --Orange Mike | Talk 19:13, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Okay. But then why are Anne McCaffrey's Pern books considered science fantasy? They have no actual fantasy or supernatural elements either, just things that remind us of fantasy. marbeh raglaim (talk) 16:20, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
The Pern books aren't science fantasy, and are not considered science fantasy by anybody who's actually read more than a few paragraphs of them. Some unthinking persons look at the cover, and declare "Dragons:Fantasy!" automatically. --Orange Mike | Talk 16:43, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
The Pern books aren't exactly science fantasy as it is now understood, but anyone who read the early stories when they first came out were very familiar with the close relationship between them and the Unknown stories which are discussed in the article. This was the same editor and it was the same approach to legendary materials, in contrast to Kuttner and Moore, Say, who in their Startling Stories novellas explicitly said these strange people WERE Circe or Merlin the Magician as we know them (The Mask of Circe and The Dark World). For me this is a less black and white argument than the one over Heinlein's Magic, Inc. or Glory Road. No, the Pern books are not science fantasy but yes they belong in a discussion of science fantasy. Jplatt39 (talk) 14:30, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
It's been years since I read any of the Pern books, but if I recall, at the start of the series it wasn't all that clear what was the origin of this low-tech society with telepathic dragon-riders. The distinction between fantasy and sci-fi often boils down to semantics, like whether a character is called a psychic or a sorcerer, and a lack of background knowledge of the created world can make the classification ambiguous. (Orson Scott Card's experience with trying to publish the "Tinker" stories in a science fiction magazine is a case in point.) We normally assume that when the setting is futuristic, anything that happens must be scientifically explainable, but there are lots of books and films which violate this rule. marbeh raglaim (talk) 00:46, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
If you are only discussing the Pern Books, what you said is probably correct. What was made explicit in the White Dragon, however, is implicit in the publication of Weyr Search -- and whatever its sequel was in Analog Magazine under John W. Campbell's editorship with illustrations by John Schoenherr. Schoenherr was (and is, you can send away for prints by him) a wildlife artist. He was often called on to do awesome aliens -- such as the sand worms of Dune. And that was the approach he was given to use on the Dragonflight stories. Mark Phillips's (Randall Garrett and Lawrence M. Janifer's) The Queen's Own FBI, a very funny trilogy of novellas about espers which was published there a few years before and is now available on Project Gutenberg (Both authors died young) had Kelly Freas illustrations and really got the fantasy treatment, though for different reasons calling it science fantasy would be like calling The Dresden Files a fantasy (hey, it's about Wizards, no?). Discussing Pern in the context of science fantasy makes sense when you consider that it is a very conservative, even medieval society which is the sort that is usually described in fantasy, and it is a science fictional treatment of the dragon motif, which is usually fantasy. That doesn't mean I'm claiming its science fantasy. It was and is very closely related to science fantasy. Jplatt39 (talk) 16:36, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Undid last revision[edit]

The removal of the Dragonflight stories from the discussion of stories which provide Science Fiction rationales for Fantasy elements (like MZB's Darkover) is unwarranted because this is precisely what it does and as I remember Algis Budrys's reviews of the first books (which I no longer have available) something which he at least discussed. I am aware that it ran in Analog Magazine and that John Schoenherr, who as his biography points out was a member of the American Society of Mammologists, did the cover, but it was still clearly a reinvention of a fantasy figure. Jplatt39 (talk) 19:08, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

This is still unfair to the author, who has made it clear from the very first paragraphs of the first book that this is a science fiction setting which happens to involve low technology setting. To continue to drag the books into this discussion without making this clear is to do the author a gross injustice. --Orange Mike | Talk 19:12, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
To put it another way, the books have been discussed as Science Fiction and as Science Fantasy since their publication. I am not questioning their credentials as hard science fiction (the publication history I cited pretty much proclaim them as such) but since I see any discussion of these genres and subgenres as problematic anyhow I am VERY concerned about anything as drastic as removing something which is elsewhere very much a topic of discussion. Jplatt39 (talk) 14:05, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
You will note that I did not remove them from the article, but rather clarified their status as legit SF which happens to be mistaken for fantasy or science fantasy for superficial reasons. --Orange Mike | Talk 14:21, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Ace Books[edit]

Was the use of the term "Science Fantasy" first found in the Ace Books of the 60s or was it used in Unknown? Clearly is was rejected by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction . I find it a fairly useless category myself since nearly all fantasy novels I have read accept many aspects of science. Basic stuff like; gravity, friction causing heat, not being able to see without light, 3 being more than 2; all these work in most Fantasy stories, unless supernatural powers change the rules, so are they not all Sci-Fantasy stories? Perhaps a clearer distinction should be drawn explaining where the division is between this sub-genre and the rest of the genre. How is Conan the Conqueror Science and Pratchett's Rimworld novels are not? Nitpyck (talk) 06:19, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Wolfe under dying earth[edit]

What are the fantasy elements that would move Wolfe's Book of the New Sun out of straightforward s-f? Time travel, being set in the future, advanced alien races, evolutionary changes in mankind's mental abilities and so forth are all common tropes of straight s-f. Just because it is shoehorned into the dying earth sub-genre does not make if s-fantasy or new weird even though Vance's series of stories and novels is claimed by both sub-genres.Nitpyck (talk) 06:00, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

How would you reconcile Severian's apparent death from a broken neck before his final victory with futuristic SF? Just asking. Jplatt39 (talk) 12:07, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

The Claw is a type of technology not a type of magic.Nitpyck (talk) 00:02, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

HELLO where is 40k and the Metabarons???[edit]

We all love golden age writers, but where is the rest??? No single reference to Warhammer 40,000 or the Metabarons? These are the very definition of science fantasy. No reference to Don Lawrence's Storm? It is my understanding that all these immensely popular works happen to be European. Well guess what, there are more countries in the world than USA and MAYBE you should include them in wikipedia articles. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:27, 14 October 2010‎

Scientific plausibility vs "universe evoked", proposed change[edit]

The first part of the article makes sense, up until this point:

What matters is not the effect itself (generally scientifically impossible [...]) but the wider universe it is intended to evoke. If it is one of space travel and proton-pistols, it gets classified as "science fiction" [...]; if it is one of castles, sailing ships and swords, it gets classified as "fantasy".

Those, as well as the paragraphs that follow, are unsubstantiated claims, and quite naive if I may add. I would like to take the article to another direction, by substituting it with the following:

What matters is not the effect itself (generally impossible with the science and technology existing at the time of writing) but whether the effect can be perceived as laying on a future, past, or alternative branch of our own path of scientific and technological progress.[1]
Neither flying carpets nor travelling spacecrafts currently exist. But the former is not generally perceived as laying on the same path of our own real-world technological progress, neither in the past, in an alternative branch of history, nor in the future; while a travelling spacecraft can be. A wizard does not embody the traits of the actors in our own scientific advancement; a scientist does.
The importance of plausibility of the science and technology depicted in science fiction is a debated subject by itself,[2] but science fiction makes (at least) a token effort at depicting worlds that could be either past, alternative, or future evolutions of ours. Thus science fiction is a branch of realism.[3] Fantasy, as the name itself implies, deliberately depicts worlds that are completely unrelated to ours.
Science fantasy is a blanket term for all approaches that lie between those two opposing stances, or that mix and match them, whether coming from one side or from the other.[4]

What say you?

Etatoby (talk) 23:10, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

I disagree that Fantasy "deliberately depicts worlds that are completely unrelated to ours" Low fantasy settings like those of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Greek heroes are set in our own past and therefore more related to our world then most high fantasy settings. Conversely, Piers Anthony's Incarnation of Immortality series depicts a world very similar to our own but one where magic works on a regular basis.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:26, 27 December 2011 (UTC)


I added another issue to the multiple issues template. It's important to note that "science fantasy" was a common genre designation for science fiction in the Soviet Union and East Europe; often it was the primary term used for SF, since "Science Fiction" was seen as contaminated by its usage in the west, and specifically by what many saw as the escapist, 'trivial' nature of western SF. In Russian the term used was "научная фантастика" ("nauchnaya fantastika"); this was adapted into German in the GDR context as "Wissenschaftlich-Phantastische Literatur." Sindinero (talk) 10:22, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

you seem to know some about this, so I encourage you to update the article to reflect the information above. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 06:31, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Jupiter Ascending(?)[edit]

Science fiction of science fantasy? It does contain dragons and other fantastical elements. Similarly, can the entire subgenre of space opera be classified as science fantasy?


  1. ^ Poul Anderson, "Fantasy in the Age of Science", p 270, Fantasy ISBN 48-51518