Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Take 1

My first official Science Fiction will be released next month through Double Dragon Publishing. (That’s Deviation, for those of you just joining us.) Also, the sequel to Witch-Born will be released next month as well through the same publisher. (That’s Dead Magic.)

One science fiction, one fantasy. (Yes, I count Dead Magic as fantasy even though it has steampunk tendencies in it. I mean, it deals with witches and magic, it just makes sense.)

It’s interesting to me to see the differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy. I know that you can find both right next to each other in the bookstore. They’re categorized as Speculative Fiction and in some cases you can find them all on the same shelf/shelves.

But they are very, very different to write.

That’s probably obvious since they’re also very different when you’re reading them. Still, there are unique challenges in both genres when you’re writing. For example, you have a little more leeway in Fantasy. Everything still has to make sense, you can’t just explain everything away through magic. Magic itself should have rules and everything in your fantasy world reacts to those rules.

However, the cultures, lands, people and other aspects of a fantasy world are primarily yours to decide. You just have to stick to your set of rules.

With Science Fiction — or at least the science fiction I found myself writing — there are already rules and parameters that you have to stick to. Such as our planetary system. I only visit one other planet, Mars, but trust me … the research involved in knowing that planet well enough to put people on it was astronomical.  (You can kill me for the pun later.)

Mars is a real place. It has terrain. It has features. (It has Mount Olympus. Seriously. Look it up. It’s this volcano that just kept erupting and grew to a major height. I totally swiped it for the book.) But because Mars is a real place all those features, all that terrain, had to be taken into account. I did terraform the planet to sustain life in the book, which altered the terrain a bit (aka — gave it plant life) but the mountains and the ridges and the canyons are all still there.

This isn’t to say that you can be lax in Fantasy. If you build a world and put The Lonely Mountain on one section of the map, you certainly cannot go relocating that mountain halfway through the book.

It’s more like this; in Fantasy you’re creating everything. In Science Fiction you’re finding ways to break or otherwise mold what already exists.

 

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