Friday, June 26, 2009

Star Trekking In Search of Scifi/Fantasy Divides

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were discussing steampunk and the steampunk movement in Japan, and he said, "most Japanese steampunk movies are just regular movies in a steampunk setting anyway." He pointed out that Star Wars is a science-fantasy, a fantasy set in space, and said, all scifi are just regular stories with added science, even Star Trek.

My first instinct was to argue but it did make me think.

There are just some stories which can't be told in another genre. I could be wrong in this, but, to state a few examples:

Howl's Moving Castle is predicated on Howl's living between two worlds - our Earth (where he has a nephew who has a computer) and the fantasy world, where he spends most of his time. There's a weird spell going on with a John Donne poem. In the movie, his curse is inextricably tied to Calcifer's. Neither of these stories would have worked realistically in a science fiction story, not without a huge stretch of imagination.

Gaiman's Mirrormask, book or movie, could never have been told in anything else but fantasy, nor his Sandman.

Tron, which kinda is a fantasy, what with the weird religion and all, probably wouldn't have worked without the technological component.

Miles Vorkosigan's adventures could probably work as a fantasy series, but it would be sorely lacking the same panache.

Stargate SG-1 would definitely have been significantly less cool without the science, though. I mean, shit, Samantha Carter the astrophysicist. What would have been her counterpart? A wizardess. Not even half as cool.

But Star Trek? Hmmmm...

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