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Topic: New to the genre and I have a couple of questions

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Subject: New to the genre and I have a couple of questions
Date Posted: 4/17/2009 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Could someone tell me the difference between Sci Fi and Fantasy?  I had an English professor who said the only difference was time travel.  If it doesn't have time travel, it is fantasy and not Sci Fi.

Is there a site like Stop, You're Killing Me for mysteries that list Fantasy authors and their novels in chronological order?

Is Jacqueline Carey's "Kushiel" series any good?


Date Posted: 4/17/2009 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2009
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Hmm, I'm not sure of the exact definition but to me Sci-Fi is "space" oriented.  Think Star Trek.  Fantasy is "magic" oriented.  Think Lord of the Rings.


Check out http://www.sffworld.com/ for more info.

Last Edited on: 4/17/09 11:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/17/2009 12:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2008
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I think your professor was barking up a very strange tree! I can think of loads of sci fi books with no time travel at all, and some fantasy books with time travel...

Paula has it right... in my opinion, fantasy is magic/alternate reality based and Sci Fi is either tech/ science/ future based, or just 'space opera'....



Date Posted: 4/17/2009 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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There is some famous author said that the difference was welds.  If there are bolts, it is SF.  If not, then F.  But the overlap with SF stories with magic and urban fantasy with tech is making the difference very slim. 

I mention Tinker by Wen Spencer.  It has elves AND space stations.

(Oh.  Bad typo.  Welds, not welts.)

Last Edited on: 4/17/09 8:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/17/2009 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2008
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Your proffessor has an odd definition.

Harry Potter had time travel via magical time turner; but it is fantasy not science fiction.

I've  heard definations like: Dragon = Fantasy  v Space Ships= Science Fiction.

                                                 Swords = Fantasy   v Ray guns = Science Fiction

                                                 Magic =  Fantasy   v  Technology = Science Fiction


Last Edited on: 4/17/09 6:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/17/2009 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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This is interesting .  I had a professor that said frankenstein and ursula le guin are both sci fi --not fantasy (le guin) or horror (frankenstein).  I wonder if there can be any clear cut split.  I have some old (1970s &1080s) ace fantasy anthologies that I would  define as sci-fi.  I wonder if it's the decade that it's published in that defines the genre.  The books being published right now  seem to have a clean cut between fantasy & sci-fi but if you look back even as close as the 90's or 80's the genres arent as clearly defined.  I would think that the use of technology would be a contributing factor to the definition but it doesn't always seem to be the case.


Date Posted: 4/17/2009 11:50 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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I think the whole rise of urban fantasy is making the dividing line even fuzzier.  It used to be that fantasy was with swords and horses.  Now the line between fantasy, SF, mystery and romance is getting blurred.  Books show up shelved in different sections in different stores.

Of course we do have a history of blurry lines.  Anne McCaffrey's Pern was due to the SF that underlined the planet's history.

Date Posted: 4/18/2009 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
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sci-fi defines things that could possibly happen (or happened, if you are into alternate reality) using concepts based on real technolgy. frankenstein would fit that defination because electricty was being used to "animate" dead muscles at the time.

fantasy encompasses ideas and settings that are solely based on whimsy or superstition- wizards and winged faeries.


Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 4/18/2009 4:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
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Ah, the genre debat rears it's head once again!  The split between SF and F are pretty much up to the individual reader, I think.  There are obvious distinctions, such as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is clearly Fantasy and Clarke's 2001 is clearly SF.  I don't think anyone would dispute those.  But there can be so many differing degrees of overlap that to me it comes down to personal preference. 

For example, most people say Star Wars is SF simply becasue it has laser guns, spaceships, etc.  However, Star Wars also has the fantasy mystical elements of the Jedi and the Force, which are the central focus of the saga.  So which is it?  I tend to think of it as Space Fantasy, because really there is no actual science in it.  They never explain in the movies how hyperspace works... much less how you could build a planet destroying laser weapon....or how a lightsaber blade just conveniently stops 3 feet out from the handle...

As a contrast, I consider Star Trek as SF - yes there are certainly Fantasy elelments to that series, but they also made the effort to base that world on actual scientific fact and current theories for the times in which each series aired.  (Actually, now that I think about it, most of it iseems based on the Theory of Relativity, that matter and energy are interchangeable - transporters, holodecks, replicators, etc.)

Last Edited on: 4/18/09 4:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/18/2009 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Hi LeeAnne,

Since everyone else is tackling  your other questions about genre I figured I would speak to your question about the Kushiel Series (Jacueline Carey).  I LOVED the first three books, the original trilogy.   The books in order are:

Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 1)  Kushiel's Chosen (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 2)  Kushiel's Avatar (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 3).   These three books focus on Phedre  and are REALLY really good!  (some pretty intense scenes... some intense sex scenes as well, though these books are NOT considered erotica).  

The next trilogy (although part of the same series)didn't grab me the same way.   The first of these is: Kushiel's Scion (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 4)

These, I believe follow Imriel, who is connected to Phedre... I will not say how.  :-)  I didn't finish reading these... but the first three?  WOW, great!

Hope that helped!  --- Diane

Date Posted: 4/18/2009 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
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LeeAnne asked: "Is there a site like Stop, You're Killing Me for mysteries that list Fantasy authors and their novels in chronological order?"

A good place to check would be the Internet Speculative Fiction Database at www.isfdb.org/

Type in the author's last name in the search box, wait for the list, and click on the author's name.

(The site can be quite wonky if you put in the whole author's name. For example if you type "George Martin" it finds -0- results. But type in Martin, and he's on the list.)

Date Posted: 4/19/2009 8:43 AM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2008
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Another website that lists fantasy authors and the books they have written (along with reviews of some of them) is FantasyLiterature.net http://www.fantasyliterature.net/ .

Last Edited on: 4/19/09 8:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2009 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
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Thanks for those links, Karen and Cora! They will come in handy.  Hey, LeeAnne! Fancy seeing you here. :)  As others have said, the lines between SF and Fantasy are rather blurry. I try not to worry too much about it and just enjoy what I'm reading. LOL

To answer your question about Kushiel series...I have read Kushiel's Dart (the first one) and loved it. I have all the rest of the books here patiently waiting for me to get back to them, including the second trilogy--they are huge in hardcover so take up a rather significant part of one bookshelf. I don't know why I haven't gotten back to themyet--Kushiel's Dart made my top ten of the year when I read it in 2006! I think because they ARE so large, they intimidate me a little bit. LOL


Date Posted: 5/8/2009 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2009
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a great website to find out all of the books a particular author has written is www.fantasticfiction.co.uk   Type in any author's name and all of the books, short stories will pop up in order....you can also search by series as well....


happy reading