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What is the difference between fantasy and science fiction?

The fantasy genre traffics in the impossible, whereas science fiction can be thought of as speculative fiction that draws its internal logic from the real world.

Fantasy fiction draws on the exploration of themes covering religion and philosophy, power, history. It holds such themes at a distance and within worlds where impossibilities are possible, and magic rather than science is the dominant knowledge and skill-base.

Science fiction is similar but with science as its building block and settings more likely to be dystopian versions of our own world.

We can’t define fantasy by its magical creatures—science fiction uses these with aplomb. Alternate realities and societies are also fully utilised in each genre. Magic and Science shape realities, influencing design, fashion, transport, weaponry, language, education, and travel. Common to each is the grand quest and the heroine’s journey, stereotypes, and tropes.

Time for some lists:


· Magic

· Mythical creatures

· Supernatural powers

· Mysterious settings, such as castles, hidden caves, etc

Science Fiction

· Advanced technology

· Alien creatures

· Enhanced powers

· Dystopian or futuristic settings affected by climate or war or in galaxies far, far away.

Stories that encompass both (science fantasy?) broaden horizons further than either can alone. Reflecting on the elemental knowledge and instinct that we carry inside of us. When we can’t explain a strange incident using science, then magic must be involved.

The fundamental difference appears to be the mind make-up of the writer and reader. Dreamers both, certainly. Yet one dreamer seeks and accepts magic and supernatural forces and the other, science and technology.

Perhaps the difference comes down to the old right brain/left brain dominance factor of the writer and reader?

1 Comment

May 11

It’s all just interpretation. I don’t use the word “sci fi(science fiction). I call what most call sci fi, fantasy and call what most call fantasy, mag fi(magic fiction).

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