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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old September 24 2012, 02:55 AM   #16
Nerys Myk
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Most of the stores I've worked and shopped in have placed Science Fiction and Fantasy together, usually under the heading "Science Fiction." To the General Public there might not be a difference. Big name authors will usually wind up where they made their "mark". No matter what Stephen King writes it wind up on the horror shelves. If Danielle Steele writes a SF novel is gonna wind up in Romance. I'm sure there are stores out there who are more stringent and go strictly by content.
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Old September 24 2012, 04:17 AM   #17
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Samuel Walters wrote: View Post
stj wrote: View Post
Essentially, the seeming defeat of Communism was also the seeming defeat of Enlightenment itself.


ETA:
I think one issue with Sci-Fi is a fatigue with the whole World of Tomorrow™ concept. Considering we've had decades of reality dispel much of the speculation we had in the 20th century, that makes audiences much less willing to suspend disbelief for a Sci-Fi future. Fantasy just *is* and as long as the fantasy world is internally consistent, then audiences seem more willing to suspend disbelief.

I do think Sci-Fi is, essentially, harder to create because it's so closely tied to the limits and restraints of our knowledge. The more we advance, the more aware we are of our limitations. As such, FTL-based stories, galaxy-spanning story worlds, alien-contact tales, and idyllic/utopian futures are harder to accept as plausible. I think this is why, in part, why dystopian stories have taken hold. There's currently no limit to how far a society can fall given future technologies.
I don't see why science fiction has to be any sort of "topia" whether utopia or dis utopia, the real world lies somewhere in between those two extremes and a realistic future world should lie their also. To give you an example, Star Wars is not a utopian setting, and its not a dis-utopian setting, it is a setting of conflict to be the backdrop of interesting stories. I think Star Trek is the same, though there are episodes where it is portrayed as a utopia. There are no perfect societies, besides perfect societies are boring, what interests the reader is conflict and its resolution, a utopia isn't very entertaining, as everyone gets what he wants without struggle, and the struggle is what makes the story interesting. The thing about disutopias is they try to make grim predictions about our future world, and I'd rather just read an interesting story set in an interesting universe, a universe where everything went to hell is a bit discouraging. The real world and a future world based upon it allows for many interesting conflicts without it necessitating that this world be "Hell".
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Old September 24 2012, 04:27 AM   #18
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

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I'm not sure this is true or even have any evidence to back it up, and I certainly mean no disrespect to anyone that may love fantasy, or even writes fantasy, but to me, fantasy just seems easier to justify. You don't have to explain why vampires or magic exists, the way you might have to explain how a technology exists or how humanity evolved to the point of space travel. I personal think it's much more easy to simply say, magic or supernatural creatures are here and common place.
I often wonder for instance, whats so special about a creature drinking blood? mosquitoes and bats drink blood, and there are many sources of blood besides just people, that is the inconsistency of vampires. There is very little difference protein-wise between human blood and animal blood, the reason why there are vampires is that vampires for some reason not explained go after human blood, and it is that act of going after human blood that brings them into conflict with humans, but its much easier to drink animal blood. No one really cares if you raise a herd of cattle to drink their blood. To me vampires are just dumb if examined scientifically.
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Old September 24 2012, 05:13 AM   #19
Nerys Myk
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Good thing they aren't based on science, then.
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Old September 24 2012, 07:55 AM   #20
stj
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Science-fiction, save for a few hard SF novels which are too boring to even contemplate, is straight-up fantasy with just a slightly different cover.

Asking why fantasy is more popular than science-fiction is like asking why sports is more popular than football.
You're surreptitiously redefining "fantasy" as "not-realistic" instead of looking at what there actually is. SF is supposed to be realistic. Fantasy is not. Realism as a mode of literature rather presupposed that the world made sense (another Enlightenment idea) while fantasy doesn't, whereas SF does. Fantasy can be serious (not necessarily solemn, indeed the manifest nonsense is rather discordant with solemnity) but it is not pseudorealistic.

Further, the SF=fantasy hypothesis fails the acid test from real live readers. Kage Baker, Catherine Asaro, Justina Robson and Sandra Macdonald write SF/romance hybrids. Fantasy/romance hybrids are written by authors as diverse as Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurel K. Hamilton and Diana Gabaldon. The readers can tell the difference, and they don't like SF. You may be trying to say the difference is stylistic, but in literature style is hugely imnportant. This is true even if you don't hold to English lit cliches about what's good style.

PS So-called hard SF can be quite fascinating if you've ever taken an interest in the world around you. Not one hard SF novel is a textbook.
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Old September 24 2012, 01:31 PM   #21
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

This may seem too simplistic and I'm sure there are many, many exceptions but my impression is that fantasy is more likely to be character driven than SF is. My preference is for character based material so I tend to end up prefering fantasy over SF. I want the science to be important, but definitely secondary to characters if I do read SF.

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Old September 24 2012, 03:46 PM   #22
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

STJ, it's not so much a "rejection" of Enlightenment, as a recognition of it's limitations and failures. Sometimes the only thing that makes sense out of the world is to realize that it in fact does not make sense, at least within the materialistic, secularized frame of reference the Enlightenment proposes.

I'm reminded of this scene from TMP:

SPOCK: V'Ger has knowledge that spans this universe. And, yet with all this pure logic, ...V'Ger is barren, cold, no mystery, no beauty. I should have known.

KIRK: Known? Known what? ...Spock, what should you have known?

SPOCK: This simple feeling ...is beyond V'Ger's comprehension. No meaning, ...no hope, ...and, Jim, no answers. It's asking questions. 'Is this ...all I am? Is there nothing more?'
or what Mr Keating had to say after trashing the Pritcher Method of analyzing poetry in Dead Poets Society:

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
For all the technical advancement the Enlightenment has given us, it has in powerful ways taken as much or more from our spirits, reducing us to mere cogs in a vast universal machine. A love of Fantasy is a rejection of that diminishment.
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Old September 24 2012, 05:39 PM   #23
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Because fantasy is way better than science fiction. That's why.
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Old September 24 2012, 05:52 PM   #24
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
Because fantasy is way better than science fiction. That's why.
I disagree,fantasy is not better than sci-fi,it depend on the quality of the story,for example the twilight series kinda screwed the whole mythology of the vampires and werewolves,with the retarded sparkly thing,and made them too hard to kill,WTF was the author snorting when she thought of it?

as for sci-fi some count too much on space battles etc,it does not need to always be in space to be sci-fi.
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Old September 24 2012, 06:45 PM   #25
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Sci fi has an image problem of being for geeks. Vampires and horror tinged supernatural stuff can be seen as cool.

Funny how superheroes were also for geeks not too long ago and now they're in all the biggest movies. Sci fi needs an image makeover.

I often wonder for instance, whats so special about a creature drinking blood?
Sexual metaphor. As always sex sells, and sci fi tends to be sexless. That no doubt is a big part of the problem. Of course Tolkein was pretty sexless too and I don't read enough fantasy to know whether the puritannical streak endures. GoT is very popular and also raunchy, no coincidence.
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Old September 24 2012, 11:30 PM   #26
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

stj wrote: View Post
You're surreptitiously redefining "fantasy" as "not-realistic" instead of looking at what there actually is.
The difference between "fantasy" and "non-realistic literature" is fuzzy at best, and mostly propped by some SF fans who incomprehensibly feel demeaned to admit they enjoy fantasy literature.

stj wrote: View Post
SF is supposed to be realistic.
"Supposed" by who? If that was true, then SF fails miserably, because it is not realistic in the slightest. Warp drives are no more realistic than orcs.

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Realism as a mode of literature rather presupposed that the world made sense (another Enlightenment idea) while fantasy doesn't, whereas SF does. Fantasy can be serious (not necessarily solemn, indeed the manifest nonsense is rather discordant with solemnity) but it is not pseudorealistic.
I disagree. Some SF fans like to pretend it's realistic, but it's not. I suppose it enhances their enjoyment of the story, but that's just that: one more layer of fiction, a framing story to make the story feel close to the reader. Functionally, there is no difference from an author pretending to tell "the history of the future" and him pretending to tell "a story he found in an ancient, mysterious tome", or "an adventure related to him by the protagonists". It's just window dressing to make the story more "believable": of course, readers know that already, but they might enjoy the game because, pretend or not, the emotional punch of the story is enhanced, and that is all they ask from the writers.

As for fantasy not being solemn, I think JRR Tolkien might want to have words with you. Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings are both internally consistent universes, with their own established rules and mileage. The only difference is that Star Trek call the foundation of the wonderful stuff the characters can do "science", but I can assure you, it is not. As they say, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and anything indistinguishable from magic, by all means and purposes, is magic.
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Old September 25 2012, 12:29 AM   #27
Maple Dog
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Sci fi has an image problem of being for geeks. Vampires and horror tinged supernatural stuff can be seen as cool.

Funny how superheroes were also for geeks not too long ago and now they're in all the biggest movies. Sci fi needs an image makeover.

I often wonder for instance, whats so special about a creature drinking blood?
Sexual metaphor. As always sex sells, and sci fi tends to be sexless. That no doubt is a big part of the problem. Of course Tolkein was pretty sexless too and I don't read enough fantasy to know whether the puritannical streak endures. GoT is very popular and also raunchy, no coincidence.
In Star Trek TNG there were obvious hint about sex,was not hiden,it can be as you say a metaphore,without having too much sex to the point that the show/story turns into a porn,like it is in a vampire series on tv.

makes you wonder if its done for viewers who ar too stupid to imagine it in their heads.
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Old September 25 2012, 12:49 AM   #28
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Yes, yes, I've seen you Literary Tsars issue the ukase that SF is Fantasy before. But you're still wrong. On a very simple esthetic level, you're basically claiming that a hiking trip down the Appalachian trail and a cruise to Bali are the same because they're both vacations!

But perhaps I wasn't clear enough about one thing: for SF, "supposed to be realistic" is never more than "pseudorealistic." The best pseudorealism of course is the best scientific speculation possible, but if it's nothing but science fact, it's not really SF, is it? My point was that a style that aimed to pretend to be real, to be somehow connected to this world, is not at all the same as a style that aimed to evoke magic, to create another world somewhere else away from the mundane. I don't think style is everything (some more or less redefine language itself as "style,") but ignoring this is far, far too philistine even for me.

On another level, realism says there's no such thing as magic, a proposition SF formally agrees with. (Much SF is written badly in that it subverts its own stylistic nature!) The pseudorealistic trappings are indeed often used just to help willing suspension of disbelief. Certainly the fantastic elements in fantasy are not added to assist in willing suspension of disbelief. If anything they are added to use willing suspension of disbelief against tiresome reality. Sorry, but it seems a little obtuse to miss this rather dramatic esthetic difference.

Partly you are misusing "realistic" as a synonym for "plausible." This is far too subjective to be usable. For instance, you are simply incorrect that warp drives are no more plausible than orcs. Orcs somehow live in nonexistent giant cave systems without light and without food and without fuel and without water. If you think that's as plausible as warp drive, there's something wrong with your BS detector. If it's supposed to be scientific, no matter how truly absurd it is, it's SF. And if it's supposed to be magic, it's fantasy. Everything else demands you set yourself up as THE JUDGE.

This is particuarly unfortunate because, in fact, there are quite a few SF works, including classics by H.G. Wells or Jules Verne where the pseudorealistic elements are not just another gimmick for willing suspension of disbelief. A definition of SF that reads out classic works of undoubted SF is worse than useless, it is actively misleading.
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Old September 25 2012, 09:21 AM   #29
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Warp drives are no more realistic than orcs.
*cough*Alcubierre drive*cough*
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Old September 25 2012, 09:36 AM   #30
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I'm with iguana on this. I reckon if the name changed to science fantasy, it would do away with two of the major problems of the science fiction genre; 1) that it's too unattractively geeky to be cool and 2) that the 'science' is bunk. So then you would have fantasy and science fantasy, which a very small niche for the totally geeky true science fiction.
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