Science Fiction and Fantasy

1221 WordsSep 17, 20055 Pages
The question is whether it is possible to distinguish between fantasy and true science fiction. I am reminded of the analogy, attributable I believe, to Theodore Sturgeon, of the elf ascending vertically the side of a brick wall. In a science fiction story the knees of the elf would be bent, his center of gravity thrown forward, his stocking cap hanging down his neck, with his feet quite possibly equipped with some form of suction cups. In a fantasy, on the other hand, the elf would simply stride up the wall in a normal walking posture, with his stocking cap standing straight out from his brow. What is the difference between these scenarios? The typical answer is that the science fiction story must play by the implicit rules of the…show more content…
But it is suggestive of a much deeper and wider interest in the theme than many has been willing to recognize. So far, literary criticism has not adequately dealt with this fact. In light of the cultural influences already mentioned, these essays, by and large, take a generally Christian and theological approach to the topic. This is by no means the only possibility, but it is a good beginning, especially as numbers of works recognized as outstanding science fiction have overtly Christian content the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, for instance. In many books intended to introduce science fiction and/or fantasy to those who are not familiar with the field, there is a curious shilly-shallying about the difference between science fiction and fantasy. Typically the author starts off by stating confidently that the difference consists of the fact that science fiction deals with what is scientifically possible, whereas fantasy deals with what is not scientifically possible. Then the author loses his or her nerve a bit, because, after all, faster than-light travel is, so far as we know, scientifically impossible, and much modern science fiction could not do without it; the solar system is now too small for science fiction. And then there is that good old science fiction theme, time travel, which may be not only scientifically impossible, but somehow logically impossible. So, the grand generalization dies away in a flurry of qualifications, and the subject is
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