Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Believe It Or Not – It’s In The Genres

This is not a post about politics, though it does refer to terms such as “fantasy” and “fiction”, so some may wish to debate that point.

Browsing the shelves of any book retailer one will usually see the “Science Fiction” (SF) section alongside the “Fantasy” shelves. Quite often, they even lump the whole lot into a “Science Fiction/Fantasy” corner. As I regard myself as being in the SF camp, this used to annoy me mildly as they are two distinct genres, though there are more successful examples of crossovers between SF and Fantasy than in, say, SF and Horror (with a few notable example, such as Alien).

The BBC Blakes' 7 Liberator: British made craft from the late Seventies of which you don't see much these days ... like Austin Allegros.

Now I’ve nothing against Fantasy, but it seems that these days the Fantasy books are overwhelming the “true” Science Fiction tomes, by which I mean the stories that take the current stage of scientific development and extrapolate that along a direction of progress to produce environments that are still believable if not currently possible. It is no coincidence that one of the most successful and noted of science fiction writers was himself a scientist – Isaac Asimov – who also wrote many factual science textbooks. His contemporary Arthur C Clarke also came from a scientific and engineering background.

By contrast Fantasy is rooted in supernatural and religious philosophies and pure magic. Of course, there have been some very successful mixing of the two: many regard the Star Wars movies as being the best SF films ever made – yet they are actually SF/fantasy crossovers. In fact, as any schoolboy knows, Blade Runner was the best SF film ever made. Unless you think it was 2001, or The Matrix….

I think one could come up with a number of theories for the apparent edging out of “true” SF. I suspect it’s a lot to do with the success of both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, particularly following their transfer to the big screen.

Yet something also nags me that it may also have something to do with a perceived dumbing down, or even plain ignorance of science among so many people these days. I could rant on about boosting science in schools and usurping the likes of media studies, but I did say this wouldn’t be about politics didn’t I?



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