I write. You’ve probably guessed that by now. Comic fantasy, to be precise. Well, it is if it makes you laugh :-).
Recently I was talking with another writer about that. No, not the comic part. The fantasy. We were talking about Fantasy, and we were talking about Science Fiction. But mostly we were talking about the differences between them.
Very quick and totally non-scientific surveys among those we knew had led to a surprising conclusion. A lot of people who seemed to like Science Fiction said they didn’t much like Fantasy. And a lot of people who liked Fantasy?
Yup. You got it :-).
So why would that be surprising? After all, Science Fiction is all technology, ray guns, strange planets, aliens and whether Zogblargian Flar is better with or without garlic. Or taste buds. And Fantasy? That’s magic, lightning wands, eldritch dimensions, demons and the down sides of pomegranate seeds eaten in hell. Totally different, right?
Weeeeeeeell… maybe :-).
It seems to be a requirement that once someone reaches a sufficient level of importance they make some Laws. And surprisingly often, the number three creeps in somewhere. So Sir Isaac Newton had his Three Laws of Motion. Dr Isaac Asimov had his Three Laws of Robotics. Johannes Kepler did it for planets. And Arthur C Clarke (according to the Asimov-Clarke Treaty of Park Avenue ‘the world’s second best science writer’) had his three too. Here they are:
1: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Let’s look at that third one. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Which also would seem to mean “Any magic is indistinguishable form a sufficiently advanced technology.”
So is there really a difference?
Here’s something to maybe think about:
First Mage Cardelian checked the pentagram. The ruby on the dexter point was smudged. That was bad. It might give the demon a path through the ward. Or the demon and his familiar. Or the demon, his familiar and the hordes of hell. Cardelian smiled to himself, stepped in and polished the ruby against his robe before setting it in place again. He opened the Book of Theramis, and began the chant. He paused. 'I summon thee Great Demon of Kathos' Was the accent on 'Kath', or 'os'? He flipped to the back of the Book. Ah. Right. In a moment, the rubies at each point of the pentagram began to glow. The air inside the wards shimmered, and the walls of the palace at Kuldar appeared round him.
Chief Engineer Baker examined the transporter chamber. The Kubasi crystal looked cracked. That wasn't good. Trying to warp a Kappa wave through a cracked crystal was a quick way to need a new transporter chamber. And a new ship. And maybe a new solar system if the solar flare cycle was in the wrong phase. He replaced it with one of the spares. Baker switched on his omni-scope and ran through the warm up routines. Not that he didn't know them by heart, but you couldn't be too careful with Kappa waves. He wasn’t happy with the readings from the sensor array. He nudged the vector-translitorator a little. That, he thought, should do. Stepping on the portal disc, he stepped off into the Dendrani desert.
There you are. Science Fiction. Fantasy. Is there a difference, really? And if you like one, do you like the other? I’d love to know. So the floor’s open. Feel like telling me?