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A discussion of Generes...


Mary Masters
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Okay. Since we're all in the mood after getting a pre-christmas feast of geek goodness, I would like to pose a question for discussion by my fellow geeks in arms.

Namely, is Fantasy the sole perview of Elves, Dragons, Hobbits and Trolls? Or is Fantasy more of a general blanket term for any fantastic story or tale with generally unreal things occuring, but are told in a way that suspends disbelief during the telling?

Example: I call most Science Fiction I come across Science Fantasy, which is more descriptive. (Light Sabers, The Force, Faster than light travel, Transporters, Psionics)

Example: Most "real" Science fiction is actually HARD Science Fiction. (Spinning Space Stations to generate centrifugal "gravity", long multi-generation voyages between stars, etc...)

Discuss.

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Fantasy is often used to describe the genre dealing with fairytales and similar stories, but it easily includes Science Fiction as well, except possibly the most scientific of such authors.

It gets a little complicated with what the genre names means, should mean and how they are used...

Space Opera is the name of the genre where science takes back seat to flashy stories, Star Wars is perhaps the best example. The name Space Opera is in wide use, for a pretty modern (but annoying) take on it, read Peter Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction. This book would have been one of the best I've ever read if not for one tiny (read huge) plot detail, which totally destroys the story for me. Still, it is worth checking out, and most people I know who have read it haven't been as bothered as I was by said plot.

For a story where the science is more realistic, try Greg Bears Queen of Angels. (Recommended reading for Trinity I beleive)

Standing in between, with one leg in either camp, is Snow Crash. This is an extremely good book, as I'm sure Y.T. will confirm. It has its third leg stuck in a comedy vein (it's funny, but it's not comedy) and its tail is caught between one piece of mythology and another piece of fantasy. I don't personally know anyone who doesn't like it, but I have come across some people on the net who are mad enough to feel bad about it!

Uncle Renard's SF tips are at an end for this week. Remember to study the books I mentioned, there will be a test on this!

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TBH, I think genres are a bit of an arbitrary title at the best of times and an unneeded restriction at the worst. You start breaking things down by genre and you inevitably have to deal with the borderline cases. Even the most diehard science tale is going to have an element of the fantastic in it, because otherwise you have no narrative structure. And even the longest flight of fancy needs hard science even if it's only defined by what the rules of the universe are.

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I think that's true (and forgive me using a character account to post) Vixen, and I agree.

I mean, at one stretch, shouldn't Superheroes be considered Fantasy? Or even tales of Modern Magic or Supernatural subjects? And what about stories about Aliens?

Simply put, I pretty much use Fantasy to describe anything that isn't based around reality. Fiction is a story based in reality where no fantasy things occurr (unless the character is hallucinating or something).

I guess That's all I have to say about that.

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