Right, so this might be a boring topic for some, but I think it’s an interesting distinction, so I’m going to talk about it anyway. People who don’t read sci-fi lump whole sections of literature under that one title (often including heroic fantasy, if you can believe that), like some sort of horrible mutant chimera. In reality there are some very clear distinctions in the genre.
Science Fiction as a genre includes such gems as the works of Issac Asimov, or the new Joss Whedon show Doll House. So what categorizes these as science fiction? It’s actually fairly simple: The major element in any Science Fiction story is the science. What a science fiction writer does when developing a story is to choose a particular type of technology and then extrapolate it into the future to see how people will react to it. Because the science is the major protagonist in the story, it has to be very well thought out and communicated, there is always an in depth explanation on how and why this technology works.
Science Fantasy (also sometimes called a ‘space opera’) on the other hand doesn’t rely on science for the story’s direction. This sub-genre includes epic pieces of story telling like Star Wars (personally I’m referring to IV, V and VI when I say this) and Joss Whedon’s amasing FireFly. While these stories might be set in the far future, and so require space-ships and lasers and the like, these things are more incidental to the story that the writer is trying to tell and so we don’t get a lot (or any) explanation of how the science works.
To simplify the difference: Science Fiction is a story about people’s reactions to piece or type of technology while Science Fantasy is a story that just happens to be set in a place or time with futuristic gadgets. Both genre’s are very cool and lots of fun to read (or watch), but for completely different reasons.
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- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law
– Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics.