… Or, I am a Picky Bastard.
I read an article recently, and I swear it wasn’t just for the pictures. It was actually a reasonably insightful article about fathers in fantasy. (Article) Now, I generally agreed with what the article had to say, and it did get me to think about father figures in some of my favorite books, or rather, the absence of such. Then I started reading the comments, and I got irritated. “Why did you get irritated, Rob?” you may ask. “Well, let me tell you…”
The folks who responded to the article were blaspheming.
First off, there were the umpteen ignoramuses that said something along the lines of, “OMG! CNN, you’re so awful for ever posting this drivel. This isn’t news. I SCORN YOU! SSCCOOOORRRRRNNNNNNNNN Youz! FOREVER!” Ok, morons. No, it isn’t news. This is why it’s in the “Living” section of the site. The “Living” section contains semi-opinion articles and observances about life in general. It is intended to be entertainment, rather than news. Get over yourselves, please. Either that, or shove a turkey baster filled with arsenic down your throat and squeeze the bubble.
The second blasphemous irritation was the commenters’ complete disregard for, or inability to identify, genre. Now, I know I’m perhaps overly particular about a lot of things. I know I’m a grumpy badger of a man. I also know that my opinions of genre identification don’t necessarily match your typical lit professor’s definitions. But screw them! I’m right. They’re wrong.
Fantasy and sci-fi are two different things that seem similar. It’s like the difference between jelly and preserves. The differences might be academic, but to the cook, they still F’n matter. (Preserves are better, just so you know.)
The typical definition of fantasy, according to www.reference.com is: “8. a. literature having a large fantasy content b. a prose or dramatic composition of this type”. Obviously, the people at Reference don’t necessarily abide by the concept that you can’t use a word to define itself. So, let me fix this for you, in relation to literature anyhow. I’m cool like that. I’ll help you out. Just don’t go quoting this stuff to your literature professor. They’ll shit bricks. No. Really. Bricks.
But, before I do that. Let’s discuss sci-fi. Most will know that “sci-fi” is short for “science fiction.” Complex, I know, but please follow along. I’m standing on this soap box, and my feet are starting to hurt. Science fiction is a concept that I like. Science fiction, as a concept, is the reason I love Star Trek, Stargate, and many others. Sci-fi is filled with gizmos, gadgets, wondrous creatures, and vast comparisons of cultures throughout time. I think though, there’s one thing that really sets it apart from Fantasy, rather than simply being a subgenre of fantasy. It could really happen. Yep. Scoff at my delusions if you will, but it’s true. Sci-fi has, in fact, inspired many scientists. We’re weaponizing lasers (pew pew), developing vehicles, and improving on technology all because sci-fi inspired scientists to be creative. You want proof:
See Kirk and his tablet computer from the 1970s.
And, that isn’t the only instance. There are several instances of documentaries (or articles) that show us that scientists are inspired by sci-fi. The theories that creative geniuses like Heinlein and Roddenberry show off in their books and television show up in real life in one form or another, though maybe with less 70s styling. Even when these things, light speed for instance, can’t be done with what we currently know of science, they can be researched and theories can be revised, updated, or just plain proven wrong. Even so-called scientific “laws” can end up getting a second look. So, all sci-fi is possible, or at least approachable.
Then there’s fantasy. Fantasy is made up of various things, like magic spells, talking pandas that shoot fireballs out of their eyes, and swords that guide the hand to strike the vitals of even the most fearsome of beasts (that aren’t badgers). Fantasy is made up of those things which are only real in our dreams (or nightmares). We can’t research how to cast fireballs. Santa Claus doesn’t and never will deliver gifts to gatherings of talking woodland animals. Deposed queens don’t raise dragons to help them take back their stolen throne. We don’t need to worry about some Hitler-esque jackass having a Ring of Power that lets him rule over us. All of these things are fantasy because they’re impossible. They’re purely in the imagination. They reside in the fantasies of their creators and can never make a real life appearance.
But a data pad can, and does exist.
The space elevator, as imagined by Arthur C. Clarke and other sci-fi authors is being researched. (Wikipedia)
I haven’t heard about any breakthroughs in dragon breeding recently though, have you? No. Because dragons are fantasy creatures. Even if we gene splice a Komodo Dragon with Pteradactyl DNA, we won’t get a fire breathing dragon with super magical abilities of doom. We’d just get a cool looking critter that has a poisonous bite and a bad attitude. Kind of like a teenager that just got grounded from using his phone.
In short. Science Fiction is a realm of imagined POSSIBILITIES. In contrast, Fantasy is a realm of imagined IMPOSSIBILITIES. Now, I know I could have just said that, but then I wouldn’t have been able to rant about the subject, and isn’t that the point of blogging? Getting a good rant off your chest. I feel better now. I’ve identified someones that were wrong on the internet, and gave them a good talking to. As my friend Bon says, “Like ya do.”