There is a reason sci-fi and fantasy share a section in the bookstore. Many of their storylines present two sides to the same coin.
The backdrop of a lone protagonist or a merry band fighting against overwhelming odds permeates both genres to a degree that is almost cliche. However, fans of the genres never tire of that framework to overlay new thoughts, characters, and epic battles.
At their core, the stories need to contain that human element that connects with the readers.
Even stories like The Sparrow, which center on the interaction with a completely alien species are really focused on how humans deal with what is different. How do we as people choose to understand what is alien and foreign to us?
Where the genres diverge is in the fantastic element.
In The Black Company people are able to fly with the use of magic. In Starship Troopers, they do so with the scientific aid of interstellar battleships. Flight is possible in both stories, just the means differ.
Just as I’ve talked about the overlap between Western and Samurai flicks, so we see the overlap between fantasy and science-fiction. In fact, we are even seeing that overlap in single universes. The Warhammer 40K universe and books like A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe look to bring magic to a science-fiction setting.
Even Star Wars has been called a space fantasy.
At the end of the day, most authors aren’t trying to shoehorn themselves into any category. Most of us are writing the story that’s trying to hatch from our imaginations. Some authors may write in a genre because they’ve been paid to do so, but imagination knows no constraints.
My question here is … does is make a difference? Magic or science, does it alter the underlying story? I would say only in hard sci-fi. But then again hard sci-fi isn’t about characters, it’s about science.
Are there other books or series that blur the line between sci-fi and fantasy? Let me know.
In the meantime, keep on reading, keep on searching for the perfect sunset, and keep on flying the Black.