Is It Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

 

Contributed by Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer

 I’ve always loved fantasy, so it’s a natural fit that I like writing it for children.

But what exactly is fantasy, and how does it differ from science fiction?

FANTASY

The simplest way to explain fantasy is that it doesn’t exist in the real world. Your imagination is the only limit when writing fantasy. This may be why I gravitate toward it.

If a story has supernatural or magical elements, it’s fantasy.

Fantasy allows you to delve into all sorts of topics, even difficult ones, and it comes across in a more digestible way than realistic fiction.

For example, in my chapter book,, Walking Through Walls, the main character, Wang, joins the Mystical Eternals and learns how to walk through walls.

In the sequel (still in progress), Wang has the choice to morph into a dragon at will or get another incredible ability.

Another example of fantasy is talking animals. This type of fantasy can have the protagonist going off on a journey alone or with friends. A children’s writer couldn’t have a child do this in realistic fiction as it could give the child dangerous ideas. There are lots of topics that can be introduced using talking animals.

In my picture book series, The Adventures of Planetman, the protagonist has supernatural vision and can fly. One of his friends has super speed, and the other is super strong.

These scenarios couldn’t possibly exist within the natural laws of our universe as they involve supernatural elements.

With fantasy, the writer can create new worlds and new beings. It can rain meatballs. There can be magical fairies and wizards. Science and realism are not factors.  

Think of Superman, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

SCIENCE FICTION

Science fiction is also out of the ordinary but is based on scientific principles. The elements of the story can exist within the natural laws of our universe. The scientific basis helps explain the extraordinary things that go on in the story.

These stories usually involve future scientific elements, such as space travel, aliens, time travel, and environmental catastrophes.  
 
An example of science fiction is Batman. All his abilities are from gadgets that are based on science. While some of them may be a bit far-fetched, they are in the realm of possibility.

Just think of all the gadgets and inventions created that are based on movies, books, and even articles. It’s astounding.

Driverless cars.
Holographic images.
The submarine.
The rocket.
The cellphone.
The taser.
The smartwatch.

Science fiction movies include:

World of Worlds
Contact
Altered States
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Matrix

Sci-fi books:

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Contact by Carl Sagan
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Children of Men by PD James

A MIX

A mix of fantasy and science fiction is just that, a mix.

In these stories, there are elements of sci-fi and fantasy. An example of this genre is Star Wars.

While Star Wars easily falls within the sci-fi genre, it also has elements of fantasy, such as a force field. Although, in 2015, Boeing patented the first-ever force field to protect against shockwaves.

But even with the force field coming into existence, Star Wars also has lightning bolts from fingertips and levitations. These elements are pure fantasy.

So, if you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy for children, are you sure which it is? 

This article was first published at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2022/10/09/writing-for-children-is-it-fantasy-or-science-fiction/
(Sources are listed there.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR





Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, rewriter, and coach. If you need help with your story, click HERE.

Karen also offers authors:

FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN COURSE
A guided self-study course and mentoring program.


HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S FICTION BOOK
A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS
Self-publishing help for children’s authors.




6 comments:

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

I know there is a large audience for sci-fi and fantasy. I read some but not to the extent of many others. Your explanation of the distinction is great and appreciated.

Terry

Karen Cioffi said...

I'm glad it was easy to understand, Terry. I used to read a lot of fantasy. I was never crazy about crime / suspense. Lately, I seem to read more for work, children's books and nonfiction on writing.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Gotta agree with Terry. If anyone is thinking about writing fantasy for the first time, this article is the perfect place to start!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks, Carolyn. I find the topic so interesting, especially how many things came into existence after conceived in a writer's mind!

Linda Wilson said...

I agree, too. I've never written either one unless you consider ghost stories fantasy? Sci-Fi? Anyhow, your article has helped me understand the difference between these two genres. Thank you, Karen.

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, ghost stories are paranormal, but within the fantasy orbit.

How to Sell Your Book in Bulk

  by Suzanne Lieurance Did you know that studies have shown that most self-published authors sell fewer than 200 copies of their book?   Tha...