What Is the Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

When discussing various writing genres, it is common for people – both writers and readers – to lump science fiction and fantasy together under the catchall term “speculative fiction.” On a general level, this comparison between these two genres is accurate. However, these two very close kins are inherently different on many levels. Let us look at the difference between science fiction and fantasy creations.

Science Fiction Vs. Fantasy: Identifying Major Literary Differences

1. Possibility Vs. Impossibility

Science fiction, also commonly known as Sci-fi, is a fiction literature genre whose storyline and elements are imaginary but are based on science and scientific facts. Sci-fi novels and novellas follow a logical and plausible theme and prose that has scientific backing.

Follow a logical and plausible theme means that the occurrences and events presented in sci-fi literature are possible to occur. Science fiction needs to be set in the future where technologies used may not be available but are still not beyond the realm of scientific theory. It is essential that sci-fi creations make sense within the natural laws of the universe so that the readers can connect the now and the future.

On the other hand, fantasy as a genre deals with mythical, magical, or supernatural occurrences that have no scientific backing or explanation and cannot possibly occur in our real world. Fantasy stories told in an imagined world, often entirely different from our own, which involves a mystical base.

For example, a sci-fi creation may present a space ship that travels faster than light. The writer would hope that in tomorrow’s world, such technologies can be possible owing to advancement in science and technology. On the contrary, fantasy creations might present human characters with abilities to fly or are bulletproof, something that does not and is likely not to exist in our reality.

2. Concept

Science fiction deals with scientific concepts while fantasy creations are merely written on the foundation of imaginative ideas.

3. Heroes And Heroines

Fantasy and sci-fi creations have different types of heroes and heroines. With fantasy creations, the heroes are usually mythical creatures or humans with supernatural powers.

The use of mythical creatures or supernatural humans is however different with Sci-fi creations which present real human heroes with unique talents and skill sets that make them formidable risk takers, valuable leaders or effective problem solvers which help them succeed in the end.

4. The Setting

Often, science fiction works are almost always in the future. A sci-fi story would extrapolate our world across time and explore what would happen in the advent of new futuristic technologies. Pundits maintain that today’s disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual realities were envisioned and inspired by yesterday’s sci-fi works.

On the other hand, fantasy literature setting is almost always in a world so different from ours, and often in the past. This past could be ancient or medieval, and often involving magic. Fantasy works present an alternate world with mythical occurrences that would only be possible through imagination.

Conclusion

Understanding these science fiction vs. fantasy differences will help you create or choose a clarified genre that satisfies your readers. Often, readers look for specific literary identifying marks in a fantasy or sci-fi novel.

Being aware of the difference between science fiction and fantasy can help you blend and shade these two genres to create literary works that can move readers seamlessly between the possibilities and the impossibilities.


5 thoughts on “What Is the Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

  1. eLPy – Hello! I am a writer, reader, creator person. I self-published a poetry collection back in 2013. At present I'm writing my first novel (woo hoo) with plans to publish later this year (fingers crossed!). My blog is for readers, writers, and creators. I like to talk about what I'm reading, maybe why and what I think about it. I also like to talk about writing. This time around I'm spicing it up a bit by adding some serial pieces so to speak. This is the eLPy Dimension because it is the world as I see it and I see a lot. It's not right or wrong here. It's not my way or the highway, it's just here's what I'm thinking. What do you think? I love dialogue and encourage yours. Cheers everyone. Thank you so much for visiting and HECK YEAH!
    eLPy says:

    Nice useful post. Thank you! I will ask, would you really say that Fantasy is OFTEN set in the past? I’ve not read huge amounts of either but I enjoy them. Just curious. Cheers!

    1. Upon consideration, I believe I’ll reword the statement a little. It is not so much ‘…the past…’ from a historical perspective as a more primitive societal situation, which may be post-apocalyptic, medical, historical, or event prehistorical. This is the condition of the story and the situation is driven by some precurse technological activity with the story or chronical having caused the primitiveness, and of course, the other major fantasy characteristics would need to be in play.

      1. eLPy – Hello! I am a writer, reader, creator person. I self-published a poetry collection back in 2013. At present I'm writing my first novel (woo hoo) with plans to publish later this year (fingers crossed!). My blog is for readers, writers, and creators. I like to talk about what I'm reading, maybe why and what I think about it. I also like to talk about writing. This time around I'm spicing it up a bit by adding some serial pieces so to speak. This is the eLPy Dimension because it is the world as I see it and I see a lot. It's not right or wrong here. It's not my way or the highway, it's just here's what I'm thinking. What do you think? I love dialogue and encourage yours. Cheers everyone. Thank you so much for visiting and HECK YEAH!
        eLPy says:

        Okay, I understand your perspective. Thank you!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply