Five Reasons Science Fiction Is Better Than Fantasy


To supplement the Five Reasons Fantasy Is Better Than Science Fiction, I’ve decided to create this list of the exact opposite. I am a science fiction nut, after all, and what science fiction nut doesn’t think about his/her favorite things about his/her favorite genre? Enjoy:

  1. Spaceships
    Sure, science fiction doesn’t have dragons and unicorns, but it does have awesome spaceships. Okay, so not all of the spaceships in SF are all that great, but a lot of them are. I wouldn’t mind owning the Enterprise. I’d throw some awesome parties on that ship!
  2. Gadgets and Technology (all forms)
    Gadgets, of course, are better known as a James Bond thing, but SF has a lot of gadgets too. Everything from all those handheld gizmos in Star Trek to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (don’t panic!). Then there’s all the lovely technology that makes SF so wonderful (nanotech, cyberspace, robots, universal translators, automatic, self-cleaning toilets that also clean your bumb for you, give you a quick shave, and send you on your way to work…).
  3. Expansive Interstellar Geography
    Unlike fantasy, SF is not limited by location. In a fantasy world, you can theoretically see everything there is to see in a single lifetime (or a couple if you’re one of those reincarnated folks). But SF has many planets with many cultures and geographies. Imagine all the amazing things you could see! Aliens cities and artifacts and even new human ones with new cities. And this is, in theory, limitless, because there are likely trillions of planets in our universe. Unfortunately, I think if you visited them all you’d probably explode. It’s one of those rules in the Bible or something…look it up if you don’t believe me.
  4. Fantasy Simulation
    Well, with the invention of virtual reality (cyberspace, etc.), SF has the luxury of recreating any environment imaginable, but in the safety of one’s own home, or in a corporate complex, which likely isn’t all that safe at all. So, while a fantasy world may be wonderful to live in, isn’t there something to be said about having the best of both worlds all in one package? Well, SF offers you that opportunity, or at least the characters that populate SF stories.
  5. The Future
    This particular item is mostly to poke fun at LoopdiLou, who vehemently contested my inclusion of the same thing in my Five Things Every Science Fiction Story Should Have right up until Kim Stanley Robinson put her straight during a Q&A sessions at UC Santa Cruz. I’m quite interested in the future, as you all may well know. It explains why I read quite a lot of science fiction for fun, because the future is fascinating and wondering where we will be in ten, twenty, even a hundred years is ripe with amazing speculations and imagery.

What things would you add to this list? What thing would you omit? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

18 thoughts on “Five Reasons Science Fiction Is Better Than Fantasy

  1. My hubby says Sci-Fi is better because it challenges people to try to create technology or explore new research in order to make those futuristic visions real.

    I can’t disagree with that outcome, but I still enjoy fantasy too. 😉

  2. Yes, but even people as great as KSR can be wrong, and he corrected himself, thereby making me the right one, and you the wrong one, which is wonderful, because I constantly get to rub all these wonderful things in…you know, like my cyberpunk class that you can’t take. *poke*

  3. Yes, I’m sure you do. But that might be the migraine you had this evening talking. I’m fairly certain you actually love me very much and it’s quite unfortunate for you because I’m engaged to a wonderful woman. Strange how that works, eh?

  4. Glad to see you giving equal time to both genres…certainly the safe thing to do! 😉

    I’d have to add ‘jaunting, jumping, whatever term you want to call it’ to the best things about science fiction. Being able to travel 1000 miles at a thought would be pretty darn cool. It would make it possible to squeeze out that very last minute of sleep before jaunting off to work.

    I need one of those toilets by the way, in case you know anyone who is selling them.

    “because the future is fascinating and wondering where we will be in ten, twenty, even a hundred years is ripe with amazing speculations and imagery.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

  5. The number one factor which gives SF a slight edge over fantasy for me is the thought “things like this might actually happen”. We MIGHT one day recieve a signal from aliens like in Carl Sagan’s CONTACT. We might one day be facing the ethical quandaries related to the rights of robots and animal species uplifted to human (or greater) intelligence.

    I don’t get that added thrill when reading fantasy– much as I may love it.

  6. Carl: Well, I try. I admit that I feel much more comfortable talking about science fiction primarily because any time I talk about fantasy my fiance attacks me.
    Is “jumping” really necessarily a science fiction element? I mean, it can work within a science fiction story, but the same can be said for fantasy, right? I tried to give things that only exist in one or the other (might have failed).

    David: I totally agree. That’s a great suggestion too! I expect we actually will be faced with that robot quandary, by the way. I don’t think it’s up to a “might” anymore. Some people are already having conferences about the subject…

  7. You’re probably right. I just finished reading The Stars My Destination again last night so I have jaunting on the brain!

    I also forgot to concur wholeheartedly on the spaceship front! Growing up in the first Star Wars generation, backed up by reruns of Star Trek, I couldn’t help being captivated by these machines. Perhaps it is the science fiction equivalent to guys and cars. I mean I’d go so far as kissing a Wookie to have the Milennium Falcon dropped off in my driveway!

  8. Hmm. I posted a comment, but somehow it’s missing. I have my suspicions…coulda been a rip in the space/time continuum.

    I still stand by my original opinion: fantasy all the way. It’s hard to beat riding on dragons and shooting fireballs from your hands.


  9. Netta: I’ve had that happen before. I’m sorry it happened to you though :(.

    I will pose a question to you though. What if you ride a robot dragon and shoot giant fireballs via an implant in your hand?

  10. Sci fi is absolutely better, because with the right tech you can actually create the fantasy worlds that otherwise only exist in imagination.

    Also because there are rules to follow. A god can’t just show up and say “Poof, you’re a cookie”. There has to be a molecular deconstructer(sp?) built by some evil genius to turn her enemies into unique flavors of cookies that she then sells the patents for millions of dollars…but I digress.

    The point is, sci fi is better because there are rules that have to be followed, a framework if you will. It gives a story more plausibility.

  11. Well that’s an interesting way to look at it. Although, to be fair, fantasy usually has to have rules of some sort, otherwise it’s crappy fantasy. I can’t stand fantasy without limitations…

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