Science fiction and fantasy fall under the speculative fiction umbrella. They draw the same readers, and share similar world-building and imaginative concepts that are not possible in our own reality. For this reason, you’ll often find these genres lumped into the same sections of your local bookstore or library.
Unlike other genres, the lines between these two fantastic genres are blurred more often than some realize. If the books I’ve read lately are any sign, the defined lines between these two genres are blurring more and more.
The “What If” Genre
In a previous blog post, I talked about the “what if” genre known as speculative fiction (read the post here). Authors of other genres may ask “what if” to set up the premise of their book, but they are confined to the surrounding reality of our world.
For the speculative fiction genre, this term means a bit more because the answers are only limited by the imagination of the author. Because of this imaginative aspect of speculative fiction, authors can explore ideas that would not otherwise exist in our world. This is important to remember because of the similarities between these two similar, but distinct, genres.
The Similarities of Science Fiction and Fantasy
First, let’s explore the similarities between Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
Both science fiction and fantasy are known for creating imaginative worlds that differ from our own. They often involve world-building, where the author creates a unique setting that feels real. Authors can explore complex ideas and themes that might not be possible in other genres, resulting in entertaining and unique stories.
These genres require readers to suspend their disbelief and accept the possibility of things that don’t exist in our current reality. This could include technology that hasn’t been invented yet or mythical creatures.
Either way, these stories of the imagination are usually epic in scale, that involve large conflicts and battles, journeys across vast distances, and battles between good and evil.
But where do they diverge?
The Difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy
The first distinction between these genres is that science fiction typically has its basis in scientific principles and technologies that are theoretically possible. Where science fiction is rooted in the possible, fantasy is grounded in the fantastic. It often relies on supernatural or magical elements that are not grounded in our current reality.
As referenced above, both genres involve world-building, but the approach is often different. Where science fiction focuses on creating a future version of our own world or imagined new worlds based on scientific principles, fantasy, creates its own rules. These rules are entirely
unique to the setting of the story and characters with imagined magic systems and cultures.
Where science fiction diverges the most from fantasy is in the explored themes. Sci-Fi often deals with themes like technological progress, exploration, and the consequences of scientific advances. Fantasy, on the other hand, might explore themes like good versus evil, coming of age, or the struggle to control power.
The other larger divergence is in the magical system. While science fiction usually relies on technology as a central plot device, fantasy often uses magic in one form or another.
How can you blend these two genres together?
Depending on how an author mixes science fiction and fantasy together, the book may be considered science fantasy. This subgenre of speculative fiction sits in the middle of the road. It borrows tropes from both sides of the subgenres.
That means we can have princess dystopian books like The Selection by Kiera Cass.
You can also have a mage that powers a star ship through space like in Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart.
If you’re looking for the famous science fantasy movies, look no further than the Jedi and Sith in the Star Wars franchise. Wizards in space with laser swords.
This genre can be fun to imagine. If you want a glow-in-the-dark pony with glittery hair that flies through space, the subgenre of science fantasy has you covered.
If you’d like to read about science fantasy more in depth, check out the previous post here.
Can You Mix Science Fiction and Fantasy in a Book?
The simple answer is yes. Really, authors can combine any genre into one book, but there are things to consider before pulling out the laptop and writing.
For one, the author needs to consider what the readers expect in their stories. In general, epic fantasy lovers wouldn’t expect space travel in the novel. Space opera fans, however, might not mind some epic fantasy tropes layered into the book.
The cover is also important to consider. If you look through the bestseller list by genre on Amazon, you’ll notice trends. For example, space opera usually has a mix of stars, planets, people, and spaceship elements in the design. That means, if an author mixes the two, the author needs to decide which side of the speculative fiction line does their book fall into, science fiction or fantasy. Why? Unfortunately, there isn’t a formal genre of science fantasy. So, for now, authors must pick whether or not the story is more science fiction or fantasy in order to appeal to their readers.
Here are great examples of novels that mix science fiction and fantasy:
Beyond the Sapphire Gate by R. V. Johnson
Drawn kicking and screaming into a centuries-old war, can a woman on the brink of madness fulfill the realm's bloodiest prophecy?
Crystalyn Creek is a tenacious survivor in her fading, hi-tech birth world. So when she spots a tome full of strange symbols at her otherwise mind-numbing job, she’s grateful for the distraction. But after her odd affinity for the book’s designs inadvertently opens a portal, she’s shocked when her carefree younger sister tumbles through.
Determined to pull her sibling back to safety, Crystalyn dives through the otherworldly doorway and becomes embroiled in an ages-long battle between light and dark magic. But when she discovers using her fascinating new power is slowly killing her, she’s angered by the knowledge that her rescue mission could fuel the death of the land… and her own demise.
Will Crystalyn survive her dangerous quest to save her sister before the entire realm falls to its doom?
Beyond The Sapphire Gate is the intricate first book in The Flow of Power science fiction fantasy series. If you like captivating characters, richly detailed world-building, and surprising twist endings, then you’ll love R.V. Johnson’s struggle for survival.
Farseeker by Joanna Star
Enlightened. Enslaved. Erased.
Earth, 50,000 years ago before the magic vanished. Invaded by aliens posing as gods, advanced civilisations crumbled. Now, these powerful off-worlders war for control of the planet, and the people who remain no longer remember what they once were. Seduced then enslaved, humanity has fallen.
Beneath the destroyed remains of an ancient temple, Thaya discovers a relic and a scroll written by the last of an advanced civilization. The scroll contains a message and a vision of a forgotten world. The relic unlocks a memory about her own past that she should not have forgotten. The truth sets her free but it comes at a great cost, and now she must flee.
In the ashes of her ancestors, Thaya fights to stay alive, but hers is not the only race beleaguered, and her survival is inextricably tied to the fate of an other-worldly being. In a journey that takes her to different times, alien worlds and across dimensions, Thaya must lose everything to find her own salvation.
Lost civilizations. Alien invasions. Humanity enslaved. Gryphons. Unicorns. Magic... In FARSEEKER, Epic Fantasy meets Sci-Fi and takes us on an incredible race through time and across worlds.
A breathtaking new saga from the creator of the bestselling epic fantasy series; The Goddess Prophecies by Araya Evermore.
Starship's Mage by Glynn Stewart
A ship that cannot leave
A Mage that will not stay
A meeting of desperations
In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Mages, Damien Montgomery graduates into their numbers—only to discover that without connections, he can't find a ship and is stuck in the Sherwood system.
Pirates attacked David Rice's jump freighter, leaving him with a dead Mage and a damaged ship—stuck in Sherwood, where a grieving father has blacklisted him from hiring a replacement Jump Mage.
When their desperate needs meet, Damien Montgomery is drawn into a conflict with the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy—and to the attention of the Mage-King of Mars himself!
The Progenitor by Sara Wright
Peace was all Xendara desired, but her enemies hunger for her power.
Princess Xendara is the heir to the throne, but her life is turned upside-down when a mysterious spaceship attacks. She learns her father had secrets. With his untimely demise, she must uncover them before her enemies remove her from power. In her quest to keep peace within the Six Systems, she discovers a power she didn’t know she had; a power that everyone is looking to exploit. With the help of her childhood friend Darijus, she unlocks long lost memories of her past, only to find his destiny is intertwined with her own. A prophecy guides her choices to the correct timeline. But can she trust a prophecy that foretells the death of a loved one? With the destiny of the Universe on the line, who she chooses to trust will divide a galaxy.
With powers her enemies aim to exploit, will she risk galactic war?
Scroll up and click read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited or Want to Buy and join Xendara and Darijus as they uncover the power of the Ancient architects of the Universe.
Have you ever read any of these?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Time Crystal by Sara Wright
The Progenitor Chronicles
Time Crystals are forbidden for a reason, but King Oren must use one to save a civilization.
King Oren’s only goal was to be a peaceful caretaker of the galaxy. But when a girl falls through a portal into his courtyard clutching a forbidden Time Crystal, his life changes.
With a cataclysmic event imminent, he must lead a group from his home system to the opposite side of the galaxy. Everyone looks to their seemingly immortal race for aid, but even with their elemental powers, they are far from perfect.
Armed with the Time Crystal, they seek to stop an exploding star from decimating an entire population. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to use the crystal. Even worse, he might die trying.
Will King Oren stop the star from exploding? Or will time unravel?
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