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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science Fiction & Fantasy

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

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Old September 28 2012, 08:10 PM   #91
Nerys Myk
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I avoided the Pern novels for years because of the word "dragon". Then the girl I was dating explained it was actually Science Fiction. The dragons were alien creatures and the human colonists had reverted to a medieval level of society because of a natural disaster on their world.
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Old September 28 2012, 08:28 PM   #92
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
I avoided the Pern novels for years because of the word "dragon". Then the girl I was dating explained it was actually Science Fiction. The dragons were alien creatures and the human colonists had reverted to a medieval level of society because of a natural disaster on their world.
Yeah, Pern is definitely science fiction. It's dressed up to look like fantasy, but it's really not. That's one of the things that really drew me to the series in the first place. I actually prefer fantasy over science fiction, but I love it when the two genres are blended together like they were in the Pern books.
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Old September 28 2012, 09:37 PM   #93
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Ubik wrote: View Post
Um...I don't know if this has already been suggested earlier in this thread, but it is not the plausibility or even the possibility of the imaginary science or technology in the work of science fiction that differentiates it from most fantasy. What makes it science fiction rather than fantasy is whether, inside the fictional world, those fictional characters consider it a form of science.

Science and magic are NOT the same thing. Even implausible or impossible science is not the same thing as magic. For example, magic, to function, often relies on the personal skill, power, concentration, etc, of the user. Scientific experiments, however, once understood, and with a good, clear instruction manual, can be reproduced, more or less, by any shmoe off the street. Science is provable and repeatable, given all the same variables. It is knowledge that can be passed down and used by anyone who desires to. But no matter how much Frodo memorizes the right words, and states them in the right tone, he'll never be able to scream, "THOU SHALT NOT PASS!" and make crazy shit happen. Only Gandalf can do that. It's not repeatable. That's one of the reasons it's magic, and not science, and why LOTR is fantasy and not science fiction.

Warp drive may be as impossible as Gandalf's spells in our world, but inside the fictional world, that world conceives of warp drives as science. Anyone who studies warp drive long enough can work one. Warp engines work the same way, no matter who's controlling them, and given the same variables, they will always work the same way. So, it's impossible (or fictional, rather) science, rather than magic, or fantasy.

This difference is not, to my mind, superficial or merely set-dressing. It suggests something very different about the way that fictional world works, and the relationship between those fictional characters and their fictional environment. DO they, in fact, live in a world that is potentially understandable and controllable by the masses, given the opportunity? Or do they live in a chaotic world of magic, in which only a certain elite few will ever have control, and, in any case, nothing is predictable, provable, or repeatable anyway? Those are very different fictional worlds, and it changes everything about the story, or at least the good ones.
A very interesting point of view. But it's rather easy to pick up counter-examples. The D&D magic system, for example, works exactly like science: every schmuck can learn magic with sufficient intelligence and study, and spells works exactly in the same way every time they are cast (tho it can be said it is more a consequence of game requirements than an actual narrative choice). On the other hand, the Force is Star Wars (or any other kind of psyonic power -- telepathy, telekinesis, etc), while arguably science-fiction, works exactly like your description of magic.

In general, I don't think the distinction is between fantasy and science-fiction, but actually between aristocratic and democratic narratives (and this is one of the reason I prefer Star Trek over Star Wars: Starfleet officers might seem like naive do-gooders, but it's better than patronizing and self-important Jedi knights...)
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Old September 28 2012, 09:48 PM   #94
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Ubik wrote: View Post
Warp engines work the same way, no matter who's controlling them, and given the same variables, they will always work the same way.
Unless it's Wesley and the Traveler...
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Old October 1 2012, 01:29 PM   #95
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
In general, I don't think the distinction is between fantasy and science-fiction, but actually between aristocratic and democratic narratives (and this is one of the reason I prefer Star Trek over Star Wars: Starfleet officers might seem like naive do-gooders, but it's better than patronizing and self-important Jedi knights...)
Roddenberry's atheism crept into the Trek narrative - SF people time and again dismiss mysticism/religion/or even magic as naive or outright stupid.

In the TNG episode The Devil's Due Ardra is debunked from being a god with magical powers to nothing more than a con artist. In Who's Watching the Watchers religious belief systems are outright called backward and stupid.

And of course on DS9 the Profits are referred to as 'worm hole aliens,' by the SF folks.

Wars as you say has far more elements of fantasy than Trek does as the force like with the wizards in Harry Potter inherit their special powers.
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Old October 1 2012, 02:06 PM   #96
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Will at any point your argument connect with what I said?
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Old October 1 2012, 02:19 PM   #97
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
In general, I don't think the distinction is between fantasy and science-fiction, but actually between aristocratic and democratic narratives (and this is one of the reason I prefer Star Trek over Star Wars: Starfleet officers might seem like naive do-gooders, but it's better than patronizing and self-important Jedi knights...)
Getting into David Brin territory there. Although I don't disagree with you. As often as TNG can be a punching-bag even here, I still love that show for its attempts to seriously and optimistically portray high minded ethical approaches to difficult problems... while Star Wars is so much chosen one Joseph Campbellian adventure stories.

Zombie Cheerleader wrote: View Post
I avoided the Pern novels for years because of the word "dragon". Then the girl I was dating explained it was actually Science Fiction. The dragons were alien creatures and the human colonists had reverted to a medieval level of society because of a natural disaster on their world.
I've never read the Pern novels, but didn't they start out as a fantasy premise and then later reveal their science fiction underpinnings or whatever? There's a fair bit of fiction that blurs the distinction between the two genres, and 'science fiction explanation for why things are happening as if this is basically fantasy' is one of the most common examples.

I know that Ron D. Moore lamented that his Pern TV series fell through because if it had worked out the show would have been on the air around the time the first Lord of the Rings movie hit theatres, for what that's worth.
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Old October 1 2012, 02:48 PM   #98
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Zombie Cheerleader wrote: View Post
I avoided the Pern novels for years because of the word "dragon". Then the girl I was dating explained it was actually Science Fiction. The dragons were alien creatures and the human colonists had reverted to a medieval level of society because of a natural disaster on their world.
I can't tell if you're joking or serious. I'm assuming it's a joke, but I can't tell for sure.
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Old October 1 2012, 03:02 PM   #99
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I assume Zombie Cheerleader is completely serious. Why would he be joking? From my familiarity with the Pern books, his tale doesn't surprise me in the least.
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Old October 1 2012, 04:01 PM   #100
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I mean the fact that he was repulsed by reading a book about dragons, but he's perfectly happy to read a book about SPACE dragons. You know, making fun of the elitist sci-fi types for looking down on fantasy for no real reason?
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Old October 1 2012, 04:43 PM   #101
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
I mean the fact that he was repulsed by reading a book about dragons, but he's perfectly happy to read a book about SPACE dragons. You know, making fun of the elitist sci-fi types for looking down on fantasy for no real reason?
Well, given his approximate age and when the books were published (circa 1970's), I was going to chalk it up to youthful prejudice, incidentally to which he was confessing. I await his clarification.
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Old October 1 2012, 11:38 PM   #102
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
Looking at popular fiction of late, one cannot help but notice that Fantasy based stories seem to have larger audiences than science fiction. Why do you think that is?

One thing that I have noticed is that of the two genres fantasy does seem to draw a larger female audience. Thus is its popularity based more on the fact that it is easier to draw both men and women to fantasy tales where as, in general, science fiction has a harder time drawing in a female audience?

Star Wars is probably the most popular "science fiction" franchise out there (just ahead of Star Trek) and yet it is basically a traditional fantasy tale with some scifi elements.

Why does science fiction seem to struggle to capture the popular imagination yet fantasy thrives?
At the moment, I would say it's because of the fact that we aren't doing much manned space missions if any thus the interest and curiosity in exploring space or other worlds which inspired people to create science fiction tales to do so in our own imaginations has declined.
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Old October 2 2012, 12:11 AM   #103
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Yet Avatar is the biggest hit movie of all time. Why does the lack of manned space exploration not impact movies like it does TV or (I guess) novels? Not to mention video games, where sci fi and space-based scenarios are very common and popular.

The thing that explains this best is gender preference, which maps to both genre and media. Women and girls like fantasy/supernatural and also TV. Men and boys like sci fi and also movies and video games. I don't really follow the book business but I wouldn't be surprised to find that women read more, while the guys are busy with video games. People only have so many entertainment hours during the day.
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Old October 2 2012, 02:11 AM   #104
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Conscious Circuits wrote: View Post
Kelthaz wrote: View Post
I mean the fact that he was repulsed by reading a book about dragons, but he's perfectly happy to read a book about SPACE dragons. You know, making fun of the elitist sci-fi types for looking down on fantasy for no real reason?
Well, given his approximate age and when the books were published (circa 1970's), I was going to chalk it up to youthful prejudice, incidentally to which he was confessing. I await his clarification.
Conscious Circuits is correct. In the days of my misspent youth, I avoided the books because I thought they were fantasy books, a genre I wasn't fond of. (Mostly because nothing I read in the genre managed to hook me like LOTR) Nothing against fantasy, it's fans or dragons, really. I just didn't care for it back then. These days I'm more than happy to read books about dragons. The last book I read was A Dance With Dragons and before that, the fantasy book The Wind Through the Keyhole. Currently I'm reading Sky Dragons and The Sisterhood of Dune.
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Old October 2 2012, 02:54 AM   #105
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
I don't really follow the book business but I wouldn't be surprised to find that women read more, while the guys are busy with video games.
If you take the YA (Young Adult) market as a sample (which, currently, is my area of expertise), I'd say your assertion is correct. Young women overwhelmingly prefer fantasy-based books over sci-fi; and YA novels are marketed overwhelmingly toward young women, as opposed to young men.

That's not to say that exceptions do not exist (The Hunger Games, is certainly more sci-fi than fantasy; authors like Beth Revis - Across the Universe / A Million Suns trade in sci-fi; Scott Westerfeld, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Charlie Higson are popular for a more male-centered readership). But at this point, these examples are relatively few and far between.

All of which is interesting, considering that fantasy used to be targeted almost exclusively toward young males (e.g. The Hobbit & LOTR and their sundry spinoffs).
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