He’s back…

Gah! Teh Internets fooled me. I thought I HAD managed – under somewhat awkward circumstances – to post while in Auckland, New Zealand. And I didn’t. My apologies. I do not like letting my friends here at MGC down. Where I come from you’re solid and reliable, or you’re nothing. So I guess I am nothing. Oh well, we start to build again. I’ve been away from the internet for 12 days and really nothing much has changed.

The level of stupid, loud squalling and make-shit-up is resounding mightly around the ‘undesirables’ like that uncouth Correia who just doesn’t know that he’s obliged to cheer for the right, er, left side. And that nasty Vox Day who doesn’t accept that he was supposed to go into the wilderness and die. tch tch. I have even had some illiterate ask me if I hated Larry. Try, squallers, if it is not beyond your intellect, to grasp the concept ‘catch 22’. Look it up if need be. Basically, one group gaming the system for years effectively means that the suddenly whining and character assassination and attempts to denigrate the writing skill of the ‘undesirables’ – a la Jim Hines – simply proves the point Larry Correia was making. Actually, all you are achieving is even more damage to your own reputation, to make your comments even more transparently dishonest and less valuable – which is an achievement of sorts I suppose. However, please do persist. It’s funny and illuminates your thinking capacity well.

Anyway, New Zealand was fascinating. Perhaps it’s living with volcanoes and earthquakes that shapes the place and people. Or perhaps it is getting to dawn before everyone else. They appeared as earthy as our Kate on good day, and less given to the bull that seems to have infected sf in the US – in other words actually interested in story, space, adventure… and not rabid Political Correctness. The rules (for noobs) of the con were summed up in one sentence by one of the organizers. ‘Do not be an ass (Antipodean = human buttocks and associated orifice). Imagine… personal responsibility! Perhaps someone should broach that idea in Wisconsin with their little con there. But all the exploding heads would probably frighten the cows. And it is a dairy state.

With a lot of flying and bus and train time, I did some reading. And of course some thinking when I was feeling sick from reading. I really don’t read in vehicles well, but oh, the opportunity! I hit on this piece in Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light.

“Then the one called Raltariki is really a demon? asked Tak.

“Yes and no,” said Yama. “If by ‘demon’ you mean a malefic, supernatural creature, possessed of great powers, lifespan, and the ability to temporarily assume virtually any shape — then the answer is no. This is the generally accepted definition, but it is untrue in one respect.”

“Oh? And What may that be?”

“It is not a supernatural creature.”

“But it is all the those other things?”

“Yes.”

“Then I fail to see what difference it makes whether it be supernatural or not — so long as it is malefic, possesses great powers and life span and has the ability to change its shape at will.”

“Ah but it makes a great deal of difference you see. It is the difference between the unknown, and the unknowable, between science and fantasy –…” (it’s on page 31 in my copy if you want to read the rest.)

I suspect by this definition I do not think I write fantasy. What about you?

21 comments

  1. I haven’t since the late 80’s, as I mentioned on an earlier post, but suddenly I am, and I’ve having a lot of fun with it. One day and I’m already up to 2000 words. (I hope Larry doesn’t see that other post, it might give away which story is mine.)

  2. I’ve always had a need to explain the magic in my fantasies. So, if it’s genetically engineered it’s Science Fiction and if it’s “Poof” it’s Fantasy? ::Snicker :: Don’t tell any one! I understand Fantasy sells better!

    1. IMO you have to “explain” the magic to a degree. If only to explain “why isn’t there a spell to get your characters out of trouble or solve their problem”.

      The Lord Darcy stories were good at that. Magic was often used as an investigating tool but it was also made clear what magic couldn’t do.

    2. Indeed. The main reason I go there at all πŸ™‚ (yes there is some good fantasy. But as a guy with a science background… far too many illogical points to much of it.)

      1. I do wonder if fantasy outsells SF anymore, with Indy publishing. The Indy writers who are doing the best are writing Space Opera and Mil SF. this could just be the bias in the groups I run with. Or it could be that the Gatekeepers don’t buy hard SF, but the readers do.

  3. I think, with a few notable exceptions, if you have 20th century or later technology, plus powers that might appear to be magic, it’s sci-fi. If you have the supernatural that is explained as such, and magic that just is, it’s fantasy. (It can have a cohesive system, such as magic in Lackey’s Valdemar/Velgarth system, but there’s no explanation for how that magic got there. Plus she’s got deities that intervene in people’s lives. That’s more fantasy than anything else.) Unicorns of the traditional style? Fantasy. Dragons? Depends on how they operate. Pegasus? Fantasy. Medieval-looking chick on the cover with lots of pastoral background? Fantasy, unless it’s set on Darkover, and even then I’d call some of the Darkover stories fantasy.

    1. Gundam is generally accepted as sci fi, despite that newtypes might well be magic users with an affinity for space caused by living in space. Not to mention that I think many mecha are soft sci fi at most.

      I did not have many ideas for original fantasy shorts lined up for the contest. The current thing I am working out the logistics of has magic, industry, and is after the twentieth. I picked it for further investigation because it was the closest feasible idea at hand to fantasy, and I thought it would qualify depending on how I handled it.

      I’d want to classify the Liaden books as both Sci Fi and fantasy, but perhaps that is in the scope of space opera. If you’ve been following the Mahouka anime, there is a case that it is both fantasy and sci fi.

      1. Eh, I’d call it a riff off of your definition. What I think of as fantasy vs sci-fi probably differs from what you, or Bob, Or Jim or Dr. Mauser think of, and y’all probably differ as much with each other as I do with you. It’s kinda like the Internet’s second-most-famous product (besides cat pictures): I can’t define it precisely, but I know it when I read it. πŸ˜‰

        1. If I’m in the mood, and it’ll give me a fight or a discussion, I can be flexible about what definition of fantasy I use.

          My current most promising seed, pared down, is pretty obviously sci fi.

          As a practical matter for that, I’m going for a definition that will let me develop the fantastic elements. I’d need some idea of how to do it if I wanted to make an engineer troubleshooting a robot factory be a fantasy.

          I don’t want so broad I can fit any idea in, or so narrow I take too long finding ideas that satisfy my guidelines.

          If I get something well executed, other opinions on genre would be relevant to marketing.

  4. If it is industrial (or post industrial) then it is SF, otherwise it is fantasy. Dog & Dragon is fantasy. The Forlorn is SF.

    1. I would have to disagree with this. Larry Correia’s Grimoir Chronicles and Monster Hunter series are both fantasy series set post industrial revolution. It’s more about the existence of magic and monsters than the existence of technology.

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