Fantasy or SF? You decide

There is science fiction and there is fantasy, and never the twain shall meet. At least, that is the silly notion adopted by so many SF writers, readers and reviewers.
Personally, I find the StarTrek world, which I dearly love, to be one of the greatest fantasies in fiction. Beam me up, Scotty? Really? Warp nine, Geordi? Sure. Just let me reverse the polarity…
The distinction, as best as I can see, is that science fiction sometimes involves spaceships and uses pseudoscience as a basis for the magic of faster than light travel, teleportation and other marvels. One way I’ve heard that particular hair split is that science fiction is the genre of things that could conceivably exist somedayonedaymaybe  but just haven’t happened yet, and fantasy is the genre of things that can simply never be without positing some sort of secondary-world factor.
A bit of a distinction without a difference, considering that time travel and mind power stories are usually classified as science fiction.
This is something that has been on my mind the last couple of months as I’m working furiously on my first straight SF novel. Well second if you count my comedic novel. AbductiCon, in which time-traveling androids kidnap a SF/Fantasy convention, hotel and all, and fly it around the moon.
My soon to be republished trilogy, The Were Chronicles, is something else that further blurs the standard SF vs fantasy distinctions. It’s a world of Werewolves, and Wereowls, Weremice and Werecats. Is it fantasy? Most would say, ‘of course’. Werewolves have been the stuff of fantasy – and nightmares – for eons, always conjuring up images of howling murderous mindless beasts.
But if I could show you that there is a genetic science underlying that world, would that make it science fiction? I set out to develop a genetic basis for the “being Were” thing, which is touched upon in the first book in the series, Random, and is more fully developed in the next two books, Wolf, and Shifter.
I wanted Weres to be real. I want the reader to start glancing nervously at the person sitting next to them on the bus or the subway and start to wonder whether that strange fox-faced sharp-featured woman or the pig-nosed broad-featured guy dozing in the corner actually turns into the things you think they might be turning into, when the moon is right.
I realized that the way to do that, to make them that real, was to develop a genetic basis for Were creatures. And I was just the woman to do that. After all, I do have a a MSc in Molecular Biology and Microbiology and even, briefly, worked toward getting a PhD in the field.
It all started when I sat down to write a wildly fun short story about Were-critters. The short story stopped being “short”, in any sense, very quickly. And started being a lot more solid, a lot darker, a lot more sophisticated…and I heard once again a still small voice I had not been listening to for years.
My long-gone youth, glittering with science, was speaking to me once again. And so I set out to do what is, likely, flatly impossible. After all, if Were had a “true” genetic basis, they would probably already exist. That did not stop me, however, from sitting down and working out how it would all work, if they did exist.
I was faced with the problem of a question of  science in a head-on collision with fantasy. ‘High Science and High Fantasy walk Into a bar…’
The crash was spectacular, the debris on the story road was fascinating, and putting everything back together again in a new and never before seen shape…was exhilarating.
You can read an excerpt from the first chapter of Random by clicking on ‘Free Story‘ in the menu at the top of the  blog.
It’s all real, the Were world. There is science behind it. Honest.
And my WIP? SF or fantasy. You decide.
Were logo
On another matter, the readalong of “The Secrets of Jin-shei” by MCS-Books is on-going. The third and last Twitter discussion (you can follow along and find earlier ones by using #mcsreadalong in Twitter) is at 12 pm Pacific Time on Wednesday July 25.  There have been several discussion videos put up about aspects of the book on Youtube – you can find the first one here, the second one here, and there will be a third and final one on Sunday July 29. On the preceding Saturday (the 28th) there will be a Q&A video with me, answering questions about the book, on the same chanel. Come join in!
Quote of the day
If you’re only reading the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~ Haruki Murakami
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