Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

Key difference - science fiction vs. fantasy

Science fiction and fantasy both fall under the speculative fiction genre , in which many elements, characters, and settings are created from fantasy and speculation rather than reality and everyday life. However, there is a distinct difference between science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction is based on science and technology and therefore shows scenarios that could one day come true. Fantasy, on the other hand, contains many supernatural elements and takes place in a world that does not and can never exist. Hence, the main difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction is based on science and is made up of possibilities, while fantasy has no reality and is made up of impossibilities.

What is science fiction?

Science fiction is based on imaginary future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes. It often deals with futuristic settings and plots such as time travel, space travel, extraterrestrial life, parallel universes and various futuristic scientific inventions. This type of fiction often involves various laws or theories of science. Since it contains scenarios and technologies based on science, it makes logical sense. Hence the story is plausible and can be explained through science and reasoning. Science fiction talks about things that could happen in the real world.

Science fiction can basically be divided into hard science fiction and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction often involves precise details, particularly physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, and portrays and predicts advanced technologies that have yet to be invented. Soft science fiction is based on social sciences like psychology, political science, sociology, economics, and anthropology and is not as scientific as the hard genre.

HG Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gregory Benford, Mary Shell are some notable authors of the genre.

Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

What is fantasy

Fantasy is a literary genre that uses supernatural elements as the main plot element, theme, or setting. Many stories belonging to this genre take place in imaginary worlds where magical and other supernatural creatures exist. Fantasy can be considered one of the oldest genres in literature. If we look at some of the oldest surviving stories from ancient civilizations, most of them contain supernatural elements such as gods, demons, and other supernatural creatures. Many legends and myths also belong to this genre. In fact, modern fantasy fictions are often inspired by folklore and mythology.

RR Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia are some popular works in this genre.

Key difference - science fiction vs. fantasy

Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

definition

Science fiction is a genre based on imaginary future scientific or technological advances

Fantasy is a genre that uses supernatural elements as the main plot element, theme, or setting.

base

Science fiction is based on science.

Fantasy is not based on science or reality.

options

Science fiction describes improbable possibilities.

Fantasy describes plausible impossibilities.

concept

Science fiction deals with scientific concepts.

Fantasy deals with imaginary concepts. Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy - Infographic

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Image 1 by David Revoy / Blender Foundation - Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Image 2 by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin - (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

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