Thursday, October 6, 2016

Is Fantasy Sci-Fi?

When I met the man I would later marry we were both in college. He loaned me his copy of Dune over the Christmas vacation; I suspect he wanted to make sure I'd see him again, if only to return the book. Dune is a great science fiction novel. We both loved the sense of working out how the planet's ecology could evolve, and imagining the mysteries of space travel. But my soon-to-be-husband was much more tied to the science while I loved the characters, the mind-reading, future-sensing aspects of it all. He showed me other books that filled his shelves - all volumes that I would today term "hard sci-fi." Meanwhile my own collection was growing with a Christmas gift of the Lord of the Rings, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, and more esoteric offerings my future spouse termed "fantasy." He said "fantasy" in the same way he said, "Oh dear. My sister writes," when I told him I wanted to be an author. Fantasy was most surely not his thing. He did, however, greatly enjoy Lord of the Rings. And he loves the Game of Thrones books...

Pause for thought - I think he delights in the politics and plots, while I love the characters, magic, and future-sensing aspects of it all...

But fantasy and scifi both serve the same end, to drive our earthbound, today-bound minds into thoughts of elsewhere, elsewhen, elsehow, and to wonder how earth and today relate to it all. Freeing the readers' imagination as well as the writers', they let us bring what we value and know to a place that works differently. Perhaps we learn why we value these things, or perhaps we begin to change our minds. Who know? But on the way we're entertained, and that's fiction, science or otherwise.

Anyway, I was entertained, enthralled, and inspired to view things differently as I read these science fiction novels this last week. So find a coffee and see which ones you'd like to try.

A Mage of None Magic by A. Christopher Drown, builds on a well-timed and well-told creation mythology and its consequences, past and present, in a pleasantly different world from our own. The author does a great job of letting readers see through his characters' eyes, and I enjoyed the multi-threaded tale. I think the switches in storyline might annoy my husband, and he probably wouldn't like the magic - not enough yet for him to figure out the logic. But there's more to come. Enjoy with some elegant complex 4-star coffee.

Transport by Peter Welmerink would be much more my husband's cup of tea (or coffee). Set in a near-future world that suffered near-total collapse, it crosses Mad Max with space marines, builds a very believable post-viral Grand Rapids Michigan, and tells an exciting military story with rapid-fire absorbing narration. Enjoy this dark tale with a fine mug of dark 5-star coffee.

Devouring Wind by Dale Cozort will probably appeal to my husband too. It's the second Exchange novel, and they're probably best read in order. But the author gives just enough backstory to motivate this novel, and it stands alone perfectly. An alien world, part linked to ours. Refugees, from scientists to escaped prisoners, struggling to survive. And a second alien world offering a dangerous intersection. Great characters. Great science. Great plot. Enjoy with a perfectly complex four-star coffee.

The Discovery of Socket Greeney by Tony Bertauski might not be his sort of thing, but perhaps he'd have enjoyed it when younger. Young Socket lives in the near-future, enjoys very cool computer technology, and doesn't enjoy rules. But a shadow appears to him in a computer game, and a sudden glitch threatens to bring down the system. More importantly, it threatens to reveal Socket's secret identity, and he's not sure he wants to be any different from who he's always been. A really cool story, and the start to a really cool series, this one should really appeal to reluctant boy readers, and I love it. Enjoy with some four-star complex coffee.

Feedback by D. L. Richardson is another science fiction tale aimed at teen and pre-teen readers, with another intriguingly new take on its science. This one's set in the present and blends dying-teen-angst with CIA spy thriller. It's an odd combination, and the teen angst felt more real than the action-adventure. But it's a fascinating premise and its stars do shine by the end. Best enjoy this one with two cups of coffee, one dark five-star and one fast-drinking two-star to follow up.

Finally, Everville, the fall of Brackenbone, by Roy Huff falls firmly onto the fantasy bookshelf. It's not the first in the series, but it reads well enough on its own, as a hero takes an unlikely helper from our world to a land of dragons, giants and lilliputians to save all worlds, including our own. Enjoy with some full-flavored well-balanced three-star coffee.




2 comments:

Jean H. said...

Sheila, I enjoyed this post on several levels: How your and Steven's tastes in books complement each other and had a big influence on your budding romance in college. And the discussion of sci-fi vs. fantasy. John's brother Tom was here yesterday. He had finished my Alcatraz book on his flight. He asked if I ever thought about writing sci-fi. He said my stories made him think of sci-fi. But sci-fi isn't my thing; I don't even think of my stories as fantasy. More like magic realism. I think the main diff between sci-fi and fantasy is the scientific element. Thanks for your thoughts on the topic.

Sheila Deeth said...

Good point - where does magical realism fit into sci fi and fantasy? I shall ponder that one.