37. Fantasy, Whatever That Is

220px-Mårten_Eskil_Winge_-_Tor's_Fight_with_the_Giants_-_Google_Art_ProjectIt has been a grand ride.

Since I started reading science fiction in the late fifties, I have seen the rise of Amber, Witch World, the Dorsai, the Lensmen, LeGuin, Zelazny, Ellison, Varley, Ballard, and hundred of others. I was there for the Tolkien revival and the revival of other fantasy writers under Ballantine.

Through the years, avid readers waged war on one another over the most trivial of notions, just like any other family. If you called science fiction “sci fi” (never mind SyFy) you were beyond the pale. You had to call the genre science fiction, or maybe SF; but then you had to argue whether that stood for science fiction of speculative fiction or . . . I’ve forgotten what the lesser contenders were.

Mimeograph and USPS were the internet of the early sixties. Whole forests went to the pulp mills to make paper to support arguments about what was or was not science fiction, whether fantasy was worth considering, and where one ended and the other began. Then Heinlein published Glory Road and sent shock waves through the SF community by landing with one foot squarely in each camp.

I mention all this because, although my publications so far have been science fiction, I have spent more time and taken more satisfaction writing fantasy. I’ll spell that out in the next few posts. Most of those works remain unpublished, but you can see some short stories in Serials.

Today, everything goes, but you still have to declare your allegiance. I recently dealt with a publisher who required that you shoehorn your submission into one of about forty SF/fantasy sub-categories.

All of this is probably subsumed under Clarke’s Third Law, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Put another way, the Creation as given in Genesis is fact, allegory, or fantasy depending on whether you are a fundamentalist, a religious liberal, or an atheist.

Put still another way, if it tastes like fantasy, it is (for you) and if it tastes like science fiction, it is (for you).


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