Sunday, February 27, 2011

What’s Your Science Doing in My Fantasy?

The following is an actual transcript between myself (Scott M. Roberts) and Eric James Stone, one of the other assistant editors at InterGalactic Medicine Show:

graveroberts: None of the InterGalactic Award winners were fantasy.

eviljerkfacestone: LOL

graveroberts: What?

eviljerkfacestone: watching kittens on youtube. One just fell in a blender

graveroberts: You are sick.

eviljerkfacestone: there are no dragons in real life.

graveroberts: Once again: what?

eviljerkfacestone: Trinity County, CA has dragons. dragons == fantasy.

eviljerfacestone: LOLOLOLOLOL! ROFLMAO! in the toilet! Round and round!

graveroberts: You are sick.

Sifting through this macabre and disturbing conversation, I gleaned this: some individuals believe that including creatures typically viewed as fantasy creatures (werewolves, vampires, dragons, trolls, editors with a soul, etc.) necessarily transforms the story to fantasy.

I’m afraid I disagree.

For me, a fantasy—even a contemporary fantasy—necessarily relies on some sort of mystery, or miraculous impossibility, underpinning its setting. The dragons in Trinity County, CA are not mystical; they’re examined, controlled, and catalogued like bugs in an entomologist’s office.

Which is not to say it isn’t a good story; genre aside, it’s a GREAT story. Let’s get that out of the way right now: the genre a story is in—or not in—doesn’t matter in the least to its quality. I’m comfortable with genre bending. Bend away, my writerly amigos! But don’t ask me to call your Astro-Zeppelin Galactic Ranger series, with Tolkienesque elves and Martinesque undead anything but a fantasy. Despite its being set 22,000 years in the future, in space.

Here are some great genre-bending stories:

The Dragons of Spring-place, Robert Reed

Monster Hunters International (series), Larry Correia

The Dragon Age (series), James Maxey

--Scott M. Roberts

Asst. Editor, InterGalactic Medicine Show

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