fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsArthur C. Clarke has claimed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In a book about elves who use magic to create race cars, Mercedes Lackey wrote that “any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology,” quoting the author Larry Niven. Which leaves me with the question: is there really a difference between fantasy and science fiction? When it comes to a story, is there a fundamental difference between a spaceship with a teleporter device and a mage with a portal spell? What is the difference between an alien and an elf?

So readers, help me sort this out:  What is the difference between fantasy and science fiction?  Do they serve different purposes? Do you read both genres?


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

    View all posts