Writing Science Fiction Versus Fantasy

In this featured video, our intrepid author answers the question, “What’s the difference between writing science fiction and writing fantasy?”

One of the similarities between science fiction and fantasy is that they both tend to have a lot of creative, imaginary elements. And it’s possible to use the same sorts of mythological structures in the story in science fiction as you do in fantasy. That’s why, as a reader, Christopher often bounces between science fiction and fantasy, one day reading Tolkien and the next Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Simmons, or Frank Herbert. For example, Dune—for all of its science fiction elements—is basically a fantasy story. This is why, for Christopher, science fiction and fantasy are brother and sister genres.

The biggest difference between the two is in fantasy an author can break the laws of physics and say, “How did that happen? Well, a wizard did it.” In science fiction, an author breaks the laws of physics, and when asked why or how, says, “Well, I reversed the tachyon field with the Flux Capacitor.”

And as strange as it may sound, one of the largest challenges for Christopher in writing science fiction, as opposed to fantasy, was that spaceships can’t go any faster than top speed when there’s an urgent need or mission—unlike spurring horses to gallop in a fantasy novel, for example. It was a fun but challenging limit to work around.

That’s it for now, folks! Be sure to check back often for more news about To Sleep in a Sea of Stars!

science fiction versus fantasy

Immanuela Meijer

Immanuela is the Paolinis' webmaster, archivist, and all around "make-things-go" Renaissance woman.