Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by { Emilia }, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } alta moda Moderator

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    Which do you prefer and for what reasons?

    I grew up being a SciFi fan. As a kid I watched Star Wars and Star Trek (not the original runs, I'm far too young for that :p) and as a teenager I even read some of the SW novels (Timothy Zahn is the only author I still remember). There really wasn't any quality fantasy on TV and I just didn't have any exposure to fantasy literature.
    I know my parents hated Narnia because of its theocratic fascist ideology. :p

    Anyway, along came the Lord of the Rings (the book, not the movie at first) and I slowly started getting into fantasy. I've read numerous fantasy series since then... and virtually no science fiction at all (eh, I guess Otherland is SciFi actually).

    I was so tired of the technology in scifi and preferred the (equally silly) fantasy settings. These days the opposite is true. Fantasy literature can be very repetitive and obviously there's only a few gems in a sea full of rubbish novels.

    Again: Which of the two do you prefer? Have you changed your opinion over time like I have (repeatedly)?
    Can you suggest any smart scifi that isn't focused on technology? I really love Sergei Lukyanenko's scifi work (also enjoyed his fantasy-themed Nightwatch novels, though).
     
  2. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    It's hard to say. I think it sort of depends on the medium. Like for literature and videogames I much prefer fantasy; however, when it comes to TV/film, I definitely steer more to sci-fi.

    That's not to say there isn't a lot of amazing science fiction literature, of course there is. But so much of it tends to be heavy handed and high concept. For me "the magic" of getting caught up in a good fantasy story is so much more indicative of the medium.

    It's sort of the same with video games. The worlds in fantasy are usually more romantic and airy. They have a clean, ethereal ambiance to them. Sci-fi games, on the other hand, are usually dirty and often dystopian. Harsh. And really too much on flash. I'm playing a game, I want to lose myself in the environment.

    OTOH, I prefer my movies to be high-concept and flashy. And find swords and wizards to be kind of dull.

    He's the only one worth remembering. :p
     
  3. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Both, it depends on the book or film. Reading Lord Of The Rings for the first time was almost as seismic an event for me as seeing Star Wars in 1977 ! You could argue that they're both fantasy I suppose, but after seeing Star Wars I read 2001, which is definitely sci-fi. Apart from Star Wars, my favourite movies are Terminator and Aliens.

    I have read, and continue to read more sci-fi (most fantasy isn't a patch on LotR) but have spent since before Christmas working my way through (and loving) A Song Of Ice And Fire, but am ready to get back into space soon !

    I'd be hard pressed to choose and wouldn't want to be without either...
     
  4. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I loved the Nightwatch series! Very entertaining! I've been meaning to look into his other books.

    At this point, I think I'm more into fantasy than sci-fi, despite having likewise grown up with Star Trek, Star Wars, Foundation, and so on. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back the other way at some point, but for now, I am immersed in fantasy and sci-fi that is nearly fantasy anyway (mostly because it's what I'm currently writing).
     
  5. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } alta moda Moderator

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    Some good points there. For me it also depends on the medium a bit. I generally don't enjoy Sci-fi video games because I don't enjoy being immersed in a Sci-Fi setting. The elephant in the room is Mass Effect, though which I really love.

    For movies I think the issue is that there simply isn't a lot of good Fantasy around at all. So it's hard to decide. There's really nothing decent apart from LOTR whereas there are many good Sci-Fi movies (Blade Runner, Children of Men, Gattaca, 12 Monkeys, Inception, Moon...) and some are worth watching for the visual candy alone (Sunshine, Fifth Element, JJTrek).

    For novels I've noticed that most Sci Fi novels I've read (not that many) had terrible character building which annoys the hell out of me.
     
  6. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm very picky as a reader, and though I've always thought of myself as a fan of "sci-fi and fantasy", I've really not read a ton of either.

    When it comes to sci-fi, the books that I can name off the top of my head that I own are the Time Patrol stories by Anderson, Foundation series by Asimov, Legion Of Space books by Williamson, a couple by Hamilton, The Lensman series by Smith (natch ;)), the Terro-Human History stuff by Piper and a smattering of single books by a few others.

    For fantasy my preference was always for the non-traditional, anti-Tolkien stuff. Moorcocks Champion Eternal books, Zelazny's Amber series, and then appreciating earlier and earlier fantasy works like Vance's Dying Earth books, the works of Clark Ashton Smith especially the works that inspired The Dying Earth, Zothique. Leibers Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, the works of Lord Dunsany (probably my favorite writer) and a smattering of one off's and anthologies.

    For some reason winter has always put me into a fantasy mood, and I prefer fantasy books, shows, or video games during the cold months.

    I think I lean more towards "fantasy" (really more New Wave or Dark Fantasy) than sci-fi. I've little interest in most modern fantasy (that includes the bulk of stuff written for the last 30 years) as most has seemed way too derivative of Tolkien, is the same tired old story, or is some jack ass trying to show that he can out world build Tolkien by giving us a level of insanely inane details about the most mundane shit.

    But I really don't read all that much these days. As for recommendations, well I don't really have any for sci-fi as most of the stuff I like is old and most modern audiences may not take to it. Ditto for the fantasy that I like.

    Though if I were to recommend any fantasy, I'd recommend Lord Dunsany. He was the biggest name in fantasy pre-Tolkien, is a huge influence on Neil Gaiman (Stardust is a major homage to Dunsany), was a big influence on Lovecraft as well.

    The guy's writing was magical in itself and many have tried to copy it's style, usually failing. Simple, elegant, whimsical and always beautiful.

    “And little he knew of the things that ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thought for the wonder of later years, and tell of happening that are gone clean away, and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us, over the rolling centuries, even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills."

    “If one who looked from a tower for a new star, watching for years the same part of the sky, suddenly saw it (quite by chance while thinking of other things), and knew it for the star for which he had hoped, how many millions of men would never care?”

    “Once I found out the secret of the universe. I have forgotten what it was, but I know that the Creator does not take Creation seriously, for I remember that He sat in Space with all His work in front of Him and laughed.”


    “There is indeed a great deal of futility amongst the human race which we do not commonly see, for it all forms part of our illusion; but let a man be much annoyed by something that others do, so that he is separated from them and has to leave them, and looks back at what they are doing, and he'll see at once all manner of whimsical absurdities that he had not noticed before; and Ramon Alonzo in the shade of his oak, waiting for the noon to go by, grew very contemptuous of the attitude that the world took up towards shadows.”


    My favorite quote of his

    “All we who write put me in mind of sailors hastily making rafts upon doomed ships. When we break up under the heavy years and go down into eternity with all that is ours our thoughts like small lost rafts float on awhile upon Oblivion's sea. They will not carry much over those tides, our names and a phrase or two and little else.”
     
  7. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I just like a good book.
     
  8. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Option C: weird/surreal stories.
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Honestly, I'm an omnivore. Science fiction, fantasy, horror . . . it's all the same to me.

    Mind you, I have my preferences when it comes to subgenres. I'm not big into hard sf or epic high fantasy. Left to my own devices, my tastes run more toward the Weird Tales end of the spectrum--Lovecraft, Matheson, Sturgeon, etc.--than Heinlein or Tolkien.
     
  10. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Neil Gaiman, then?

    If you're looking for really weird/surreal, I'd recommend Shaun Tan.
     
  11. Miss Chicken

    Miss Chicken Little three legged cat with attitude Admiral

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    I like both but roughly speaking -

    I tend to like to read fantasy more than science fiction
    I tend to like to watch science fiction more than fantasy

    though there are exceptions to both of these statements.

    Edited to add - I love Neil Gaiman in any medium. I can't wait to see American Gods on the screen.
     
  12. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    Quite a lot of both. Sometimes I find an entertaining mix of both, but generally I tend to like them separate, I doubt I could do without either.
     
  13. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Neil Gaiman isn't bad, but I find him a little hit and miss. I'll definitely look into Shaun Tan, though.
     
  14. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Eat any good books lately? :p
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Depends on how far back you want to go. There's plenty of classic fantasy films that predate the LOTR movies: The Thief of Bagdad (1940's version), Jason and the Argonauts, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, The Raven (1963 version), Dragonslayer, Excalibur, etc.
     
  16. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Dragonslayer blew my mind when I first saw it on HBO back in the 80s. I think it still holds up relatively well today, too.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I confess I haven't seen it since it debuted in 1981, but I remember really liking it--and vastly preferring it to the original Clash of the Titans which came out the same summer.

    And Vermithrax Perjorative is still the best name for a dragon ever.
     
  18. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I saw it again a few years ago and thought the design for Vermithrax Pejorative (agreed, great name) was fantastic. I'd have to watch it again, having seen the Desolation of Smaug to really compare the two. But what I think worked best for Dragonslayer was its convincing, yet low-budget (by today's standards) methods for conveying a world of fantasy and magic. It conveyed a gritty "realism" (a sense that it was a place where character really lived and struggled with their environment) that, in some ways, foreshadowed Braveheart and LOTR.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    For a long time, Vermithrax was my second-favorite movie dragon, with first place going to the animated dragon at the end of Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

    Which is another classic fantasy film now that I think of it . . . .
     
  20. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Personally I prefer scifi. I'm mostly indifferent to fantasy.

    For the record, Star Wars is actually Fantasy. Its basically a fantasy tale with scifi trappings. Gene Roddenberry was actually interested in ensuring that the tech he was showing was at least plausible. Conversely, Lucas was in no way concerned with the mechanics of the universe he was creating.

    That Star Wars is more fantasy is probably why I prefered to watch Star Trek.