I realized something this weekend: the line between science fiction and fantasy is blurry and subjective.
While riding around town, my mom asked me what I was working on, and I told her I was writing a steampunk novel. She asked what steampunk was, and I told her “Victorian Age science fiction”. This led to one of my brothers asking “What’s science fiction?”
My brothers had I, Robot playing in the car on our way to get pizza for dinner. They also had it playing in Spanish, but that is inconsequential. Obviously, I pointed to the flip-down screen.
Dear brother of mine disagreed. He said I, Robot wasn’t fiction because it could happen. I then proceeded to explain that was the whole point of science fiction.
He fought with me about it. Silly boy.
And then I started thinking of other science fiction they might be familiar with: Halo, Star Wars, Iron Man, Men in Black, Independence Day, Star Trek, The Matrix… etc. These are unquestionably science fiction (and it’s amazing how many sci-fi films Will Smith has been in). Then I thought of obvious fantasy: The Lord of the Rings, Fable, the Harry Potter series, Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Toy Story, How to Train Your Dragon… etc.
But then, what about science fiction that leans toward fantasy, or fantasy that leans toward science fiction? What about that blurry mesh of stories that can’t be placed in either science fiction or fantasy? You wouldn’t believe how many arguments I have had with the shelves of bookstores about this.
What about Doctor Who, X-Men, Spiderman, The Time Machine, The Butterfly Effect, Fantastic Four, The Fountain, Jumper, Avatar, The Prestige, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… and so on? What about superheroes in general?
What about steampunk as a genre? I call it “Victorian Age science fiction” because for me, it is. For others, steampunk is fantasy. For another select group, steampunk is an amalgamation of select elements, and depending on those elements, it could be either (like those horrid books that mash steampunk and paranormal creatures together). Say what you want, but zombies, werewolves, and vampires don’t belong in steampunk. I feel very strongly about this.
What I want to know: where do you draw the line between science fiction and fantasy?