Showing posts with label writing sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing sci-fi. Show all posts

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?


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 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
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 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:
(Sources are listed there.)


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:

A guided self-study course and mentoring program.

A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

Self-publishing help for children’s authors.

What Is Near Future Sci-Fi?

Steampunk is a recent sensation and is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction that often incorporates elements of fantasy. The setting is usually late 1800s Victorian Britain.

Futuristic inventions and innovations are powered by steam and introduce conflict that help drive the stories and often lead to alternate historical paths.

Steampunk generally tends to be less dystopian than its literary cousin cyberpunk.

H. G. Welles and Jules Verne were masters of using fictional machines that took their audiences on a magical mystery tour without having to leave the comforts of their home. These writers were far ahead of their time.

Today we see an emerging genre similar to Steampunk called Near Future Sci-fi.

Instead of using futuristic steam powered machines in the present setting, we see potential breakthroughs in physics, technology, biochemistry, and nanotechnology leading the way.

Near-future science fiction is set in the present day or in the next few years.

Elements of the setting should be familiar to the reader, and the technology may be current or in development. Stories about theoretical physics, nanotechnology, genetics, and techno thrillers often fall into this category.


Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes as they are commonly known. In a nutshell, wormholes are theorized and predicted portals though the space-time continuum. The term ‘wormhole’ gets its inspiration from the idea of a worm traversing from one side of an apple to the other side. The idea is that if a worm could tunnel through the apple to the other side, then a shortcut would be established.

In the same sense, a wormhole through the space-time continuum could theoretically allow matter, including people, to be transported through a hole from one point to another such as Los Angeles to Boston. For now, wormholes are filed under theoretical physics as a proposed theory, something physicists believe may be true about our universe but have yet to prove it in a laboratory under rigorous conditions.

Hollywood likes to fantasize and sensationalize wormhole concepts and place the setting in the future, develop strange characters with pointy ears, and (gulp) use wormholes for time travel, which simply is not a practical or realistic use of wormholes. But they make for a good story nonetheless.

However, using a wormhole to punch through the fabric of space (length, width, and height) is far more realistic. In fact, governments, militaries, universities, large global conglomerates, and the guy working in his garage have committed larges sums of time and resources to discovering a breakthrough in practically using wormholes to travel through space, even if it’s a short distance such as from one side of the laboratory to the other side.

We know space is already curved. If space can be folded like a piece of paper, then punching a hole through the two pieces can make a shortcut, or a wormhole.

Wormholes (also called Star Gates and Jump Points in fiction) are seen everyday in children’s TV programs such as Pokeman, Dragon Tales, Dinosaur Train, and Fairly Odd Parents and shows like Stargate, Sliders, and the Star Trek series among countless other shows. They’re also in popular movies such as Déjà Vu (Denzel Washington), Jumper (very cool movie), the Terminator series, and Contact (Jodie Foster).

After a cursory glance of my kids DVDs I see two movies with wormholes: Princess and the Frog and Meet the Robinsons.

Author: Stephen Tremp.

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