By Anna Zogg
Most people know what science fiction (sci-fi) is. We think of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Poul Anderson—as well as a host of current sci-fi writers with their sometimes dry and detailed explanations.
But what is science fantasy? Is it science fiction, or is it fantasy? The first time I read the phrase, I was certain it was a typo. I had no idea what that genre was or if I was even interested in writing it.
According to Wikipedia, science fantasy is a “mixed genre…which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy.” And that means…? I’ll use movie and television to explain, rather than books to illustrate since many of us have seen them or at least know about them. “Elements from both science fiction and fantasy” should conjure up images of Avatar or even The Martian—if you take out the techie details. My mind immediately goes to my favorite, Star Trek. I grew up on that television show. And yes, I was smitten with Captain Kirk.
According to the late iconic science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, Star Trek is “science fantasy…because of its scientifically improbable elements.”
Eh? What do you mean, improbable? As a regular consumer of the show, I didn’t care how the gadgets worked, I merely accepted that they did. Transporters? Of course. Beam me up! Warp drive? No doubt scientists have been working on that for decades. Green blooded, pointed-eared Vulcans? Possible. At one point, I flirted with becoming a full-fledged Trekkie and read The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss and the eminent theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Their explanation of why the science in Star Trek was impossible did not dampen my fascination of the show.
Then I figured out why I was so enthralled—and why I would eventually have to write something futuristic. Every Star Trek episode sparked my imagination with dozens of what-if questions. What would life on Earth look like in a hundred years? How would the average person function? Work? Play? Live? I started with that foundation for my stories. From there I created characters and plots, then tossed them into the future to see what would happen. The beauty of science fantasy is I—like the writers of Star Trek—could lean on the fantasy element when needed. I could create other worlds and cultures without explaining how humans traveled those great distances or even breathed the air on alien planets.
Soon I discovered that I could marry science fantasy to any genre. Murder mystery? No problem. I could conjure up a dozen possibilities for a futuristic “who-dunnit” if I wanted to write one. Romance? Absolutely. Consider Avatar, Passengers and even the charming animation, WALL-E. Where I finally landed was on romantic suspense. Placing two people, who were attracted to each other, into a dangerous future had the makings of a great story. I didn’t need to burden the reader with tedious, technical details but rather I could concentrate on the romantic and suspenseful elements.
At last I’d found my niche. Then I got busy. Moon Dancing (a novel that leans more toward fantasy) was published in 2013. Letters Across Time (a time travel story) came out in 2014, followed by my Intergalaxia Series (The Paradise Protocol, The Xerxes Factor and The Terran Summit—which was released in January 2017). My trilogy falls firmly into the science fantasy category—and was a lot of fun to write.
Now that you know what science fantasy is, perhaps you can identify some of your favorite writers of that genre. While you’re at it, you can beam over to one of my novels. Who knows? I could become one of your new favorites.
Anna is offering The Paradise Protocol FREE through Tuesday night at midnight, January 10 on Amazon Kindle. Click here to get it FREE!
Book Two, The Xerxes Factor, is also on sale for $1.99. Click HERE