The awesome Heather Massey runs the awesome science fiction romance site, The Galaxy Express. Is it any surprise that she writes science fiction romance as well? Here she is writing about her favorite blends of science fiction and fantasy.
An Ode To Science Fantasy
On occasion, there’s nothing more exhilarating than being a fan of both science fiction and fantasy. The former involves mind-boggling stories driven by technology and explores the impact thereof. The latter involves mind-boggling stories driven by magic and explores the impact thereof. Either way, my mind is boggled and entertained.
Naturally, there’s a difference between the two in the level of realism I expect. With SF, I can have fun speculating about and also anticipating the real possibilities implied by technology-flavored scenarios, even if I won’t live to see all of it unfold. Fantasy allows me to vicariously experience phenomena that I know will never happen, but that I want to imagine as possible anyway. Screw the laws of reality!
Part of the time, I crave a “pure” SF experience; other times nothing other than a “pure” fantasy experience will do. However, many stories don’t work that way. Historically, science fiction and fantasy have been so entwined that it’s been nigh impossible for authors/filmmakers to keep them separate. While a “pure” reading experience in either genre can be had any day of the week, there are probably thousands of stories straining mightily against the SF and fantasy genre conventions.
So what’s a gal to do? One solution, of course, is to become a fan of science fantasy!
Science fantasy is that nebulous, ever-shifting realm between SF and fantasy. In addition to SF elements, the genre includes but is not limited to things like magic, spiritual worlds, alternate dimensions, paranormal elements, mythology, planetary romance…basically anything beyond the ordinary that’s not accounted for by science and/or the technology of the setting. Impossible, implausible, illogical…you name it, science fantasy’s got it.
Why science fantasy rocks the casbah
Ironically, because of its hybrid nature, science fantasy is a very accessible genre whether we’re talking hardcore or casual SF/F fans. Is it any wonder that films and books with the widest mainstream appeal tend to fall under the science fantasy label rather than, say, traditional military SF or cyberpunk?
Many of these stories deliver a good old fashioned flight of fancy that make our imaginations catch fire. Plus, science fantasy lends itself to action-adventure and romance elements, not to mention just plain fun, weird stuff. Sometimes the fantasy aspect is a small slice; in other stories it takes up nearly the whole pie. Either way, there’s a little something for everyone.
Finally, science fantasy delivers the ultimate speculative adventure: worlds where technology and extraordinary phenomena like magic or the supernatural co-exist. Combining SF and fantasy validates the best of what both genres have to offer. Chocolate and peanut butter taste great separately, but put them together if you want your taste buds to really sing.
What’s wrong with science fantasy?
Yes, there are the heated arguments stipulating that many science fantasy tales are simply straight-up fantasy stories masquerading as science fiction (STAR WARS is the most oft-cited film example, and I daresay we can now throw AVATAR into the mix as well). OMG how dare they! It’s not real science fiction if it doesn’t stick to the real-science formula, right? Well, that depends on whom you ask. Each answer you get will have you running around in circles.
Sure, many science fantasy stories induce serious suspension of disbelief issues. The science in them, or lack thereof, can’t be bothered with things like plausibility and the laws of physics. The idea of mixing magic and technology is fantastical in and of itself. Frankly, you either buy into the concepts or you don’t.
Also, science fantasy muddies the waters, especially concerning reader expectations. Nothing beats entering a story that begins like a military SF novel and BAM! wraps you up in a big bear hug of fantastical elements. It certainly helps to have a clue going in as to which path a story will take. SF/F readers are constantly faced with the decision of whether or not they should adjust their expectations.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with science fantasy—nothing at all!
Science fantasy has been around a long time, and as long as the stories are entertaining—not to mention out of this world—it will be around for years to come.
Let’s keep the conversation going. What’s your favorite science fantasy story (books, films, TV shows, etc.)? How do you envision the genre evolving over the next 5-10 years?
Heather’s debut erotic sci-fi romance novel, Once Upon a Time in Space (Red Sage Publishing), features the last living descendant of Christopher Columbus on a desperate quest to find a new world. Standing in his way is Raquel, the deadliest space pirate in the galaxy.
Visit her author Web site at www.heathermassey.com.