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Science Fiction is not Fantasy

There seems to be a confusion at bookstores, online, on Netflix and every conceivable place that categorizes entertainment. We have all seen it, many have grown used to it, and some may have accepted it as fact. However, I find it to be a travesty as a fantasy author. Science Fiction and Fantasy are lumped together and are often seen as the same genre. Okay, I exaggerated. I don’t necessarily find it offensive, but these are two very distinct genres that are usually confused for the same thing.

These two genres are a part of the parent genre of Speculative Fiction, so they do share similarities. In fact Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror often have intersecting elements that can be transferred from one to the other. Horror and Fantasy may both use ghosts as plot devices. However, saying Horror and Fantasy are the same would be incredibly ignorant. Most would not say Lord of the Rings is in the same genre as Dracula.

Each story is different, and there may be a plethora of blends between Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy. However, Science Fiction tends to be more grounded in reality and the planets or galaxies we all know and love. It takes elements of real science and asks what if questions. Fantasy, on the other hand, often deals with a completely different world or alternate Earth with races and creatures that do not exist. In Science Fiction such creatures may be aliens, but in Fantasy they are natives to an exotic land. Fantasy, with the exception of Urban Fantasy, utilizes Medieval technology and weapons.

Why Read Goandria?

With hundreds of Fantasy books out there, why should anyone read Goandria: The Schism? As a fan of fantasy I set out on a mission to deliver something different. Of course that is every author’s goal. Goandria offers rich characterization and the characters are the driving force of the story. Many times I read fantasy stories and became fascinated by the world presented to me, but found the characters to be flat or characters of real races or religions.

I believe that speculative fiction can be a way to address hard issues without beating the audience over the head with them. Fantasy and Science Fiction can explore areas such as politics and ask hard questions about related topics. Of course this means doing it right. An author should never push an agenda onto his or her readers. Addressing sensitive topics in fiction properly involves more of a “what if” scenario such as: What if this idea was right all along? In Goandria, I like to do this through challenging my characters’ presuppositions. Many times fantasy has obvious caricatures of real world religions or political groups, and whether I agree or disagree with what the author is saying, I find such methods distasteful.

Goandria: The Schism is also just the beginning. It is a small window into a much larger world that will be slowly revealed with each new book. It is fantasy written for those who love to get lost in a new world and want something different.

Another Cliché

Since I have utilized this blog to point out cliches I notice and try to avoid, like here, there is another one that I began to notice recently. Actually, I’m surprised I didn’t notice it sooner. This particular cliché seems more prominent in Science Fiction, more specifically Young Adult Science Fiction, but I feel it is worth noting.

What is this cliché? Let me depict it. Something devastating happens to the world, and there are a small group of survivors. They are the only ones left of humanity. A strong, independent, young woman rises up out of the ashes of human civilization. At first, she does not know her strength. She is timid, loving to others, yet unruly and rebellious. This woman has scrounged around in her world, looking to live a simple life, but then her parents die. At that pivotal moment, she finds a strength she never knew and fights back against those who seek to dominate the survivors. This bold young woman, having survived tragedies and injustices, symbolically cuts her long, flowing locks to show that a new, stronger self has emerged.

I have seen this become a reoccurring theme lately. In fact, once I noticed it, it seemed to be so common that it almost seemed silly to me. Why do these female protagonists need to cut their hair to show their change? Why do so many story tellers feel the need to include this to demonstrate character development? It seems the film Star Dust picked up on this cliché long before I did because it flips this archetype on its head and comically extends the male protagonist’s hair during the character’s transformation.

Have you noticed this as much as I have? Do you feel as silly as I do that you didn’t notice it either? Why is this such a common theme?

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