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Debate – Science Fiction Vs Science Fantasy


Posted February 25, 2016 by

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Science Fiction Vs Science Fantasy

It’s a question that has haunted geek culture for almost forty years. Wars have been fought. People have been hurt, embarrassed or worse and despite decades of conflict we still haven’t had a clear, definitive answer.

The ultimate question. The one question the defines eternity.

Which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars?

Well the answer is neither because they are two completely different things.

Ok, so that answer is probably a bit of a cop-out but the truth is you can never fairly judge to the two against each other as one is Science FICTION and the other is Science Fantasy.

Yes I know, all fiction is fantasy otherwise it would be fact but Science Fiction as a genre, despite being fantastic, is still more grounded in reality than Science Fantasy. You with me so far?

So Star Trek is Science Fiction. In the adventures of Kirk and Co. the Enterprise seeks out new life and new civilizations by travelling through the galaxy at warp speed. It gains warp speed via the warp engines, which is powered by the warp core. Inside the warp core anti-matter and matter collide with one another creating a powerful surge of energy. This energy is regulated by the dilithium cyrstals and we will stop there because this is quite possibly the most geeky and boring paragraph I have written in my life.

In Star Wars, which is Science Fantasy, The Millennium Falcon goes because it goes.

Ok, so I’m sure someone geekier (and more than likely fatter and smellier) than I can teach you the ins and outs of the Corellian vessel that is the Falcon but they would of learned that information from the countless books in the extended universe. In terms of the main narration of the four movies it appears in we only learn what is needed in order to propel the story forward.

Most people enjoy both sub-genres but Science Fantasy probably edges fiction in terms of a larger market and this is where you start getting problems. I for one enjoy J.J Abrams Star Trek films but I can see why the hardcore Trekkies would feel annoyed and disrespected by the reboot. In order to appeal to the masses many fans feel it was dumbed down and they are right. The philosophy and fable like slow burning story aspect that made the original series popular to begin with has been pretty much eradicated and replaced with scenes of people running from explosions and shouting at things. Trek films have always been a little more action packed the its TV shows because the films have more budget but for the vast majority it managed to stay true to the source material. Star Trek is trying to be more like Star Wars and in doing so it has lost a lot of its identity.

There is still room for smart Sci-Fi. Interstellar and The Martian have proved that. There is also plenty of room for Science-Fantasy to flop, John Carter and Jupiter Ascending proved that.

Some characters have no problem transitioning. Batman has just come out of a trilogy of movies that grounded him in reality. Villains had their back-story change in order to make them believable. The Joker had his perma-white skin replaced with make-up and Bane had his super steroid “venom” replaced with a muffled old timey British accent. The bat-vehicles where all ex-military equipment and The Dark Knight himself only had two major adventures before his knee packed in and he had to call it quit for eight years.

This new Batman who debuts next month is going to have a stand up fist fight with a god like alien.

Another example is James Bond. It’s hard to picture Daniel Craig’s Bond floating around in space firing lasers and driving invisible cars into ice-castles but these scenarios have all played out for the same character, the latter of which only happened four years before Craig’s debut.

Dumb things get smarter and smart thing get dumber. At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is the entertainment factor.

However I draw the line at Sherlock Holmes in space.


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Tim Buckler
Tim’s Fortress Of Solitude
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