A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What is Fantasy?

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ran an episode called "A Space Oddity" that involved a fictitious TV show titled Astro Quest.  In the course of investigating a murder at Whatificon, a bit of byplay ensues between David Hodges, the Trace tech, and Mandy Webster, the Fingerprint tech at around the 1:00 mark on this video

So is Mr. Ed hard SF but Star Trek is fantasy?  Maybe we can call it "hard fantasy"?

What tropes of hard SF really qualify as fantasy?  Earlier in the game we identified strong AI and downloading human minds into computers as being philosophically impossible, although True Believers in the parousia of the download, when they throw off this corruptible body and put on a new and incorruptible body -- gee, that sounds familiar -- and achieve the Singularity, the Rapture of the Nerds, will never believe the Chinese Room, let alone the Gödelian proof.  In our next installment, we will ask:

Is Genetic Engineering a Real Possibility?

By a real possibility, we mean a possibility in the Real World™, not in the Platonic world of ideal abstractions, where one may merely wave a hand, o'erleap the Singularity, and cry "Make it so." 


  1. ...You ask a teaser question like that and say that it's for the next installment?!? Oy.....


    The gal is so trolling. (If we ignore writers and assume that she's a real geek-- realistically, the writer was trolling/thought it was funny/wanted to make a statement.) If it's fine to say that Mr. Ed is SF because it's a different world where at least one horse developed the ability to talk, then a TV show where the speed of light isn't a solid barrier has at LEAST the same defense.

    It's sort of like how Dracula is a techno-thriller (stolen from the Kitty Norville books) because the characters are using all the newest technology, even blood transfusions! (Sure, it had a bad case of science marches on, but that happens.)

    If I had to come up with short definitions of SF and Fantasy, I'd say that Fantasy deals with idealized settings, and fiction deals with idealized people. Maybe "archetypal" instead of "idealized."

  2. Thanks for the clip, I enjoyed it.

    "No; 'fantasy' is anything that travels faster than the speed of light, which is why Albert Einstein, if he were alive today, would slap your face." *grin*

  3. And I thought the spoof so captured the essence of "Cap'n Kirk and the Beautiful (and Scantily-Clad) Space-Alien" theme.


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