Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Gotham Central, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    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.

    Jan
     
  2. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    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:

    or what Mr Keating had to say after trashing the Pritcher Method of analyzing poetry in Dead Poets Society:

    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.
     
  3. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because fantasy is way better than science fiction. That's why.
     
  4. Maple Dog

    Maple Dog Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  5. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.
     
  6. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    "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.

    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.
     
  7. Maple Dog

    Maple Dog Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  8. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    *cough*Alcubierre drive*cough*
     
  10. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    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.
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Back in the 1970's, writers in Starlog referred to Star Wars as science fantasy, since it was regarded as in between science fiction and fantasy, as it were.
     
  12. RB_Kandy

    RB_Kandy Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree with those who say Sci Fi is a sub-genre of Fantasy.

    As for why do women prefer fantasy over sci fi? Damn, I really don't know, but I too have noticed that. Normally I am really quick to speculate on the inner workings of female behavior, but I got nothing.

    As for the success of Twilight; this has nothing to do with the appeal of "fantasy" and everything to do with the seduction of sexual metaphors and hot guys with washboard abs.

    It is my belief that Twilight (and similar movies and shows) appeal mostly to girls between the ages of 11 and 14, when they are beginning to sexually mature. They may not have "true" sexual desires at these ages, but certainly their hormones and neurology are preparing them for it, and these metaphors are stimulating their repressed or under developed sexual needs.
    Let's face it, Twilight isn't about evil scary vampires and scary werewolves, it's about super hot sexy young super men who are charismatic and cliched.
    While I have only caught glimpses of Twilight from my mother and neice watching the films, I can already spot the cliche of a "dangerous guy I shouldn't be attracted to, but are." and "nice safe guy who loves me, but I don't feel the same way".
    Furthermore, vampirism in and of itself is a sexual metaphor. The sexy vampire sinks his teeth into you for the first time (you've lost your virginity). Any time a creature has a compulsive, lustful, need to transform you into one of them, you are losing your virginity upon transformation (metaphorically).
    The compulsive lustful need to drink blood is symbolic of wanting to get laid.
    Twilight is a soft-core porn and romance that just slaps the label "vampire" and "werewolf" on the actors.
    The appeal of Twilight does not reflect the appeal of fantasy.

    The difference between sci-fi and fantasy is strictly aesthetic.

    Fantasy: picture a knight, on a horse, with a 15th century English castle in the background. There are elves by his side firing arrows at an oncoming crowd of knights and elves.

    Sci Fi: Picture a goofy dressed warrior with a laser gun, a star ship in the background, a bunch of aliens by his side, firing lasers onto a crowd of other aliens.

    Cowboys vs Indians, cops vs robbers, humans vs aliens, humans vs orcs, allies vs axis, British navy vs pirates, Yankees vs confederates. It's all the same game, different aesthetics.

    As for the notion that science fiction is "scientific" oh rubbish!
    Let's compare star trek to harry potter.

    1.Harry Potter uses a teleportation stone that works on "magic",
    Scotty uses a teleportation device that works on "science".

    2. Harry Potter uses his wand to shoot a "magic" bolt of energy at someone.
    Kirk uses his phaser gun to shoot a "scientific" bolt of energy at someone.

    3. Harry Potter uses a magic spell to make a roast appear out of thin air, in his bag.
    Kirk uses a scientific food replicator to make a roast appear out of thin air, on his table.

    4. Harry Potter uses this "magic" spell to get out of a tight jam "Confundus Expecto Patronum Stupefy."
    B'Elanna Torres uses this "technobabble" to get out of a tough jam "Run the plasma through the tachyon dispersal matrix into the neutrino flux regulator."

    5. In some episode of Harry Potter, Hermione used a magic spell to create a force field around them to keep them from being seen by their enemies.
    On some episode of Voyager they used some sort of tachyon arm band to avoid being scanned for by their enemy.

    There is nothing scientific about science fiction.

    Fantasy is sci-fi in a medieval period, sci-fi is fantasy in the future. Both can be utopian or dystopian, and all of it is cops and robbers.
     
  13. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Well as some people have already pointed out, there is some science fiction which can be described as 'hard', since it keeps within the boundaries of known science. Moon is a good example.
     
  14. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^^No "hard" SF is plausible as true scientific speculation, which is no problem since it doesn't aim at the kind of accuracy opponents of SF pretend it does. At least, not since Jules Verne, but that was so early on he can be forgiven. Also, he was kidding himself.

    Military SF is a genre where the pseudorealism is essential to willing suspension of disbelief. How does arbitrarily miislabeling the prose style help anyone shop, much less understand?

    Further, how does arbitrarily labeling Kage Baker, Catherine Asaro, Justina Robson and Sandra Macdonald science fantasists make them less geeky and more cool, like Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurel K. Hamilton and Diana Gabaldon?

    Science fantasy is a stupid term, evocative of nothing but confusion. Wells' "scientific romance" was better than that.
    Calling either Wells or Verne "science fantasy" is plainly bizarre, much less someone like Olaf Stapledon. Calling Kim Stanley Robinson's Capital trilogy or Joan Slonczewski or Greg Egan fantasists is positively crazy.

    There's a threadbare pretense of reasonableness, brought in by idiosyncratic notions of plausibility as the only acceptable meaning of realism. The question is why people are so aggressive about this issue? Ordinary readers have no great difficulty in distinguishing SF and fantasy. The true attempt at a bastardized blend of SF and fantasy is steampunk, which is fueled by an unseemly love of imperialism.

    But for whatever reason, something is pushing buttons too hard for people to understand what they read. Or write, since claiming the difference is strictly esthetic is completely inconsistent with the claim that SF is a sub-genre of fantasy.
     
  15. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Well allow me to retort.

    Science fantasy sums it up perfectly. And for the reasons I outlined, it might make it slightly less unappealing to the masses.
     
  16. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    So now I'm a Literature Tsar? Cool. Do I get a Winter Palace made of books?

    No. Well, actually, yes: I'm claiming exactly that, that both are vacations, two particular examples of a larger category. To build on Deckerd's words, "science fantasy" and "magic fantasy" are both part of "fantasy".

    As for the rest of your posts, you seem to enjoy talking to yourself more than talking with people, so I'll leave you to your favourite past-time.

    The Alcubierre metric, while a theoretically interesting speculation, is still pretty implausible, from the humongous energy requirements, to the issue of information transport, to the problem of impacting a speck of dust at superluminal speed. Compared to that, creating an orc with genetic engineering would be rather mundane.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The OP clearly is taking the position that fantasy and sci fi are different genres. Otherwise, there isn't much to this topic, is there?

    But clearly there is some real world distinction in the popularity and appeal of the elves & wizards stuff vs the spaceships & aliens stuff, regardless of what label you want to slap on each. That distinction shows up in book stores and on TV, and somewhat less distinctively in movies. Hopefully this thread won't descend into a boring semantic quibble.

    And I doubt that rebranding sci fi as "science fantasy" is going to do much to enhance its appeal. I'm sure book publishers would have done it by now if it were that easy.

    In terms of why one is more popular than another, yeah. People have been taught to believe aliens and robots are dorky and angsty teen vampires are cool, so they respond differently to the "stuff" in each genre. You can have the same story, but perceived differently, because of the "stuff."
     
  18. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This is probably pretty easy to explain actually...

    Women, from an early age, are socialized away from the very things that might have translated into an interest in science fiction. Think about it, even as kids, boys are necouraged to like things such as rockets, robots, computers and machines of every sort...i.e. the things that are at the heart of science fiction. Girls on the other hand are forced fed images of faries, princesses, handsome princes, evil witches, magic etc.

    Just look in the toy isles in stores. The boys are being largely being shown the technical world of today and the adventure of the world of tomorrow. Girls are being shown pretty things and images of a fanstatic mystical past.

    Some women rebel against that sort of socialization (and it becoming a bigger issue these days since its been discovered that it impacts the willingness of women to go into things like the sciences) and do their own things and comout as the rabid scifi fangirls that we all know and love :D

    Others go with the flow and end up more as followers of more adult versions of the fantasies that they grew up with.
     
  19. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think there's a difference in the way some women relate to things - they seem to be more attracted to a character or characters within a film or novel than the rest of us. You only need to look at the 'shippers', slash enthusiasts, militant Janeway fans, Xena followers, cosplayers etc.

    I'm probably going to get 'Guys do that as well' thrown back at me, but none that I know do. And yes, I know it's wrong to generalise...that's why I was careful to use 'some'.

    I'd also say that fantasy appeals more to women as it is more 'romantic', and I don't mean that in a boy meets girl kind of way. More in the idealised, heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious way...
     
  20. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I'm definitely on the SF and fantasy are basically the same thing side of this. Both are a method for the author to create fictional worlds in order to tell stories that could never be told in the real world. Sure one is based on magic, and one "science", but really they serve the same purpose either way, to separate the fictional world from the real one.