Personally, I think science fiction vs fantasy is entirely
based around how it's handled in-universe. Not out-of-universe
, but in-universe
. The question is: Is the technology treated like something vague and mysterious, with uncertain roots and/or properties that may take much training or understanding to master? Or is it something that's "down to earth" and treated as normalcy, of which people have a very solid understanding of, complete with research and experiments?
One is a "Fantasy" mindset. The other is that of "Science Fiction". Fantasy is also based around the past, while Science Fiction is based around the future. When these two elements mix - ancient and/or unknown powers mixed with a futuristic setting/technology, or
, the opposite - strange forces in the past that are treated very matter-of-factly and have been extensively researched to the point that all it really takes is some basic knowledge of how to use them - then it's "Science Fantasy".
Lord of the Rings doesn't try to explain any of its magic. It just "is". It's supposed to be wild, mysterious and ancient - and it's also set in the past, with solidly medieval technology. Thus, Fantasy. Similarly, Doctor Who never makes any sort of attempt to explain the TARDIS, or, usually, any of the technology they come across - but given that the TARDIS, arguably the centerpiece of the series, is supposed to come from a "highly advanced civilization" I'd classify it as Science Fantasy - very tentatively. Star Wars doesn't really try to explain "the force", or lightsabers, or blasters, or anything else. I mean, in the prequels they sort of
tried (midichlorians!) but... they didn't really. Science Fantasy.
Star Trek, while whimsical at times, is solidly science fiction by this definition. Mass Effect is also solidly Science Fiction, because they treat their Element Zero like an actual element that has been critically studied and is well-understood. Stargate, while almost as whimsical as Star Trek, I think also qualifies as solid Science Fiction.
StarCraft, with the psionics, may well be Science Fantasy. So does Warhammer 40k.
EVE, I think, falls very
firmly into the category of Science Fiction.
Harry Potter is "Present Fantasy", for lack of a better term. It's a fantasy series set in today's world.
Matrix 1 is science fiction. I don't know what the hell the others were. They hardly made sense to me.
Silverware wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:16 pm
Where Mass Effect has an element that magically can reduce mass to negative if electrically charged.
Portal doesn't bother to explain it's portals, so one can call space magic on those.
Mass Effect very solidly explains how Element Zero is supposed to work. There is no "magic" about it - it's not meant to feel magical. It's meant to feel mundane. It's something people deal with in their daily lives. Sure, it's not realistic, but if you say "It's not real, so therefore it's not science fiction" then you'e cutting out a vast
amount of science fiction - classical and modern. Your definition of Science Fiction, by the way, ends up labeling a lot of early science fiction as "science fantasy", which I believe makes it fundamentally flawed unless you really plan to rewrite the classification of all those old books, magazines, and stories.
Portal is science fiction. They don't really try to explain the portals, but they act like it's natural technology and there's nothing strange about it. It's normal stuff in-universe, and they're in a science testing facility.
It doesn't get much more "science" than that. It's also clearly set in the future or present, which makes it a solid SciFi.
Battlefield Earth is a strange thing. It's set in the future, people have the technology of the past, but there are people with technology of the future, but that technology is treated like it's magic. I don't even know. If I was to guess, it's Science Fiction: Set in the future + the aliens, at least, treating their equipment as science.
A Wrinkle In Time is decidedly Fantasy. Some bits here and there look like they're supposed to be futuristic (especially closer to the end) but everything is very fantastical the whole way through.
Steven Universe is Science Fantasy. They have spaceships and such, but also mystical powers nobody understands. Future tech + magical magic = Science Fantasy.
Steampunk - anything steampunk - is mostly Science Fantasy. It's mostly set in the past (or with past technology) with the addition of things that are decidedly future technology OR things that people aren't really sure how they work (usually in the form of "what makes flying ships fly")
Final Fantasy is decidedly Science Fantasy.
I mean, it has "Fantasy" in the name, but people have magical tech and futuristic tech. Science Fantasy. Same as Star Wars.