23 Apr 2011

Is fantasy the same as Science fiction, or is it a narrative genre in its own right Part I

When I first started this blog I was worried I wouldn't know what to write. However now I realise the problem is choosing what to write.
I sat for ages in front of my PC debating whether or not I wanted to write about this topic or my unbridled rage over the white peace poppies.

I have decided to leave the rant to FB, and write briefly on this topic which was inspired by one of my followers (sounds a bit like a cult doesn't it? Kool aide anyone?) comments . Thank you Tim.

So are fantasy and Science fiction effectively the same genre, or are they different?

At university I learnt about the various genre of film; the Western, The Gangster film, Horror etc.  These genres would have stylistic elements and share common themes. The Western for example, would be be set, rather obviously in the old west. Traditionally these films typified the journey of a hero who generally tamed the wild through conflict. Whether that was the country (nature) its self, or criminal men who preyed on society. Typically these heroes were men who although defended civilisation, were not part of it. Although they were sometimes civilised by a doe eyed farmers daughter, or a school maarm.

I was also taught that Science fiction was not a genre on it's own, but merely a setting for another type of narrative. I disagreed with that idea then, as I do now.

One of their examples was  Blade Runner the 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. My lecturers argument was along the lines that Blade Runner  was essentially a film Noir movie, just set in the future. And they are right. The set, lighting and production of Blade Runner is classic film Noir. The added narration also giving it that Sam Spade sort of feel.

But my lecturer was also wrong. Science fiction literature (both film and writing) is about the impact of  science and/or technology on the characters or the characters society (Alien life is included in the umbrella of  science as well).  A common theme appears to be the dangers of science and individuals stepping over some ethical boundary and suffering the consequences.  In Blade Runner  that technology is the Replicants, an artificial human like slave race that desires freedom.

To me Science fiction is it's own genre. Yes it can be a setting and a vehicle for other styles of narrative, but also has its own themes and styles.

So what is Fantasy? Is it a separate genre?

Now I am not too flash on this "post a blog" thing yet so I have broken up my thoughts to make this one of the two part post.  By doing so this is still a blog and not a bloody essay, and also may keep you interested.

Part II coming soon

Enjoy your Easter break everyone.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have an answer for you :)

    There are three things you mention: Genre, Narrative, and Setting. If SciFi is a seperate genre, we should be able to have a sifi genre in a western setting - and we should be able to have a western genre in a sifi setting. SteamPunk seems to provide some basis for the first - as does Back to the Future part "whichever one they go into the past". And a western set in a sifi setting? That would be Serenity.