22551Re: What Is/Is Not SF? (was: NPR top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy titles poll)
- Aug 4, 2011From The Iliad and The Odyssey, to Beowulf, to tales of King Arthur and his knights, to Dante's Divine Comedy, to Milton's Paradise Lost, to Grimm's Fairy Tales, and up to modern classics such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, fantasy has been among the most powerful and popular forms of fiction. When mankind wants to tell a story that people will respond to, the tool he most often turns to is fantasy.
Here are my definitions of sf and fantasy from an article I did in defense of the fantasy genre for a Christian ezine.
You can read the full article here:
While fantasy usually gets lumped onto the same section of the bookstore as science fiction, they are really very different genres. Science fiction tends to glorify man (or at least his intellect). The mind of man may bring forth amazing things that are good or evil, but in science fiction these things always spring from men or man-like intellects. It is rare to see any hint of the spiritual or supernatural in science fiction.
So what, then, is fantasy? Shakespeare gives a pretty good definition in Hamlet, when the title character says, "There are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
At their roots, we might say that science fiction speculates on the possibilities within the natural world, while fantasy broadens its view to include the supernatural. God need not exist in most science fiction stories, while in most fantasy stories He must (even if He is never directly seen). Every fantasy story that says justice will prevail in the end, is really saying that the universe is ruled by a just God. All of the best fantasy stories, be they about the ultimate war between good and evil or the doings of the smallest of fantasy creatures, really say the same thing and suggest to the reader (whether consciously or not) the same ultimate conclusion: If the smallest of supernatural things exists, even if it is the smallest of fairies, then perhaps the greatest of supernatural things (God) exists.
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