Bewildering Stories

Karlos D. Allen writes about...

The Definition of Science Fiction

Karlos responds to Jerry Wright’s “What Do We Think We Are Reading,” in issue 111, and suggests a demarcation between science fiction and fantasy.

Science Fiction and Fantasy are the two kinds of fiction which require a “willing suspension of disbelief” on the part of the reader. The settings props and some of the characters are products of the author’s imagination. However, that being said, the main characters in both have to react in a rational way to the situations they are in. They have to be ‘real’ people who act and grow in ‘real’ ways. If they are not human they have to follow their own rules in a rational way.

With this in mind, Science Fiction gets its props and situations from things that we have reason to believe are possible according to our present knowledge (or at least aren’t absolutely impossible). Fantasy is the opposite. For example: “From the Earth to the Moon” was science fiction when Jules Vern wrote it. If someone were to write it now, it would be Fantasy. If a story has elements of each I guess you would ask yourself which genre the primary assumption falls into.

I really wish librarians would quit mixing them up!

Karlos Allen

Everything in Bewildering Stories invites reader participation. Our forum has some good conversations on many different topics, but not everybody visits the forum. Discussions are another way in which readers can contribute ideas on topics of general interest. Responses are welcome.

Copyright © 2004 by Karlos D. Allen and Bewildering Stories

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