The Sword and Laser discussion

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what do you think is better fantasy or sci-fi

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message 1: by Christos (new)

Christos | 165 comments Personally I think sci-fi is a lot better.


message 2: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments I like both when they're well-written, but hell, right now I'm in love with cyberpunk.


message 3: by Camilla (new)

Camilla Hansen (malazanshadowdancer) | 64 comments I enjoy the magic aspect and I'm not sure I've encountered this in any sci-fi? At least it's more common in fantasy, which is why it's my favourite :)


message 4: by Magda Żmijan (new)

Magda Żmijan | 76 comments I'm a fantasy loving person. Where there's magic, strange creatures, dragons etc - that's where you can find me ;)
but I've read some SF books, I even liked few of them.
Lately I've read Gravity: The Complete Trilogy - mechanically it's SF but it reads like fantasy. I loved the third story :D


message 5: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3506 comments Mod
Up until I was 17 I was a strictly laser and then I discovered Tolkien.

Now I'd say I'm 40% laser. 60% sword

and these 2 genres would make up more than half my reading for pleasure.


message 6: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6748 comments Mod
I assume you mean to solicit people's personal preferences, and not start some kind of nerd war with people arguing about which genre is superior to the other...because it's completely subjective and debating it would be futile.

I tend to read more fantasy and watch more sci-fi.

If not for S&L I wonder just how much Laser I'd really read. I've enjoyed most of the Laser picks, but when they are done I go right back to fantasy for my personal reading.

It's one of the best parts of the club for me. It encourages me to read more sci-fi.


message 7: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Rob wrote: "I assume you mean to solicit people's personal preferences, and not start some kind of nerd war with people arguing about which genre is superior to the other...because it's completely subjective a..."

Hello, would you tell me some good sci-fi dystopias to read? I need to draw up a list form my phd on feminist cyberpunk. Thanks


message 8: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 192 comments i find i come across more book in fantasy i cant finish or dislike but i do like them equally.


message 9: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 829 comments Totally depends on my mood.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Serendi wrote: "Totally depends on my mood."
yeah, this.


message 11: by Pickle (last edited Mar 19, 2013 04:45AM) (new)

Pickle | 192 comments Foram wrote: "Rob wrote: "I assume you mean to solicit people's personal preferences, and not start some kind of nerd war with people arguing about which genre is superior to the other...because it's completely ..."

two books that possibly fall into the category you're looking for but are completely different from one another:

1. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
2. Mortal Engines


message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott (dodger1379) | 124 comments Read fantasy
Watch sci-fi

Very rarely will I watch any fantasy that I like - it always seems more fun in my head.
Very rarely will I read any sci-fi that I like - the sci-fi that I read tends to read more like a fantasy novel

All comes down to personal preference and mood


message 13: by Travis (new)

Travis (the_hero_of_canton) | 55 comments Sci-fi is my go-to genre but I like fantasy when I'm in the mood. Grossman and Bakker are awesome but even bad OSC is still good to me.


message 14: by Paul (last edited Mar 19, 2013 05:24AM) (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 489 comments Camilla Mejlby wrote: "I enjoy the magic aspect and I'm not sure I've encountered this in any sci-fi? At least it's more common in fantasy, which is why it's my favourite :)"

I'd say that if it includes magic it is, by definition, fantasy - even if set on spaceships. (of course, there's Clarke's Law: any sufficiently advanced tech will appear to be magic to a less advanced society). Likewise, books like The Shadow of the Torturer are SF despite outward appearances.

I read a lot more SF. I grew up reading fantasy, but gradually got turned off by the increasing length of the books and series; so much of it is padding and repetition. I sometimes go back to the fold on recommendations (for which this group is excellent!) but am still frequently disappointed. I think it's because so much fantasy is pure escapism, while I like some relevance mixed in, whether social or moral, and for me most fantasy lacks that.

I find there is some fantasy that delivers that: Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Graham Joyce, Jonathan Carroll. There also seems to be a lot more quality short fiction in fantasy than SF - although now that Ellen Datlow and Terri Windlings Years Best Fantasy and Horror anthology has ended I'm not sure where to find it. Still, I have lot's of back issues to go at.


message 15: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments The answer is strawberry oatmeal. Yum!


message 16: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments I read more fantasy and watch more sci-fi. Gaming is pretty much split down the middle. Lots of Skyrim and Mass Effect. I find if I read too much of one genre, I have to switch it up for a change of pace.


message 17: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments I tend to read more fantasy though do love me the lasers. As David Eddings said "a science fiction writer needs to tell you how the clock works, a fantasy writer just needs to tell you what time it is. That's why we write better stories."


message 18: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 701 comments Well, I don't think either is "better" and that it's even quite futile if not outright nonsensical to claim that one genre is better than another.

To answer to the question I hope you meant: Overall I read more fantasy than sci-fi, especially of the epic kind, but my reading is really all over the speculative sub-genres. I definitely appreciate some solid sci-fi from time to time.


message 19: by library_jim (new)

library_jim | 212 comments I was going to say I think this is a false dichotomy but then realized that sounded a bit lit. major douchey, so I'll just say I like them both.

Anyway, I tend to be one of those that think of Fantasy being more all-encompassing and "science fiction" and "sword & sorcery" and such as subsets of the overall Fantasy or Speculative umbrella. But I don't usually want to split hairs. I just want to read good books.


message 20: by Bill (new)

Bill Cooper | 9 comments Paul 'Pezski' wrote: "Camilla Mejlby wrote: "I enjoy the magic aspect and I'm not sure I've encountered this in any sci-fi? At least it's more common in fantasy, which is why it's my favourite :)"

I'd say that if it in..."

This is exactly why I prefer sci-fi. Although I find great books by great authors (like the ones you've mentioned) that prove me wrong, on a whole I feel that there is too much padding and repetition where I feel like I'm just reading an updated version of LotR. Thankfully, this club has shown me otherwise, but I still will always prefer sci-fi; it just interests me more.


message 21: by Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth (last edited Mar 19, 2013 04:46PM) (new)

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1861 comments Scott wrote: "Read fantasy
Watch sci-fi"


I more or less agree with this. I got into reading fantasy as a teen, influenced hugely by my mother, and can't remember reading a great deal of sci-fi, which always sounded pretty boring. I used to think I didn't like sci-fi at all until I realised how many of my favourite films and t.v. programmes are of that genre. But I've really enjoyed some of the laser picks from this club, and embracing my inner-laser.

I think I may have been initially put off by how masculine a lot of sci-fi appeared to be, and I never much liked front-covers with spaceships, like I would see a cool ship and buy the book just for that...I mean, sure, spaceships are cool, but need something a little less superficial to attract...ooooh, is that a dragon? Coooooooooooool!

But I think when it comes to t.v. sci-fi wins because all that dry technical babble I couldn't get my head around in the book has become a shiny toy of awesomeness on screen, whereas the heroic protagonist from fantasy which worked so well in my head is suddenly camp as hell and saying stupid things all the time which didn't sound so stupid when they were written down. But it's been proven that both can be done well and terribly. I'm liking the more recent, gritty attempts at fantasy.


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark Why does one have to be better than the other? You can enjoy one more than the other or both equally.


message 23: by LegalKimchi (new)

LegalKimchi | 112 comments I would say, purely on books, fantasy has better writers currently. Current sci fi tries to be too artsy and bascially too cool for itself. More about concept then character (which happens in fantasy too a lot).
But Fantasy authors seem to be having a character driven push as of late.
That being said, old man war's is my favorite book.


message 24: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1137 comments I tend to prefer S.F. to F. but I read a lot of both.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I have read both,but I really prefer fantasy.


message 26: by Dharmakirti (last edited Mar 19, 2013 08:03PM) (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments Ever since discovering The Belgariad during junior high, I've been a fan of fantasy.

I do read and enjoy sci-fi but a space battle just doesn't fill me with as much excitement as does a sorcerous conflagration.


message 27: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments Scott wrote: "Read fantasy
Watch sci-fi

Very rarely will I watch any fantasy that I like - it always seems more fun in my head.
Very rarely will I read any sci-fi that I like - the sci-fi that I read tends to read more like a fantasy novel"


I'm the opposite. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the most popular movies tend to be Fantasy. Most of my hour-long TV viewing is Fantasy: Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, True Blood.


message 28: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments Ruth wrote: "I think I may have been initially put off by how masculine a lot of sci-fi appeared to be, and I never much liked front-covers with spaceships, like I would see a cool ship and buy the book just for that...I mean, sure, spaceships are cool, but need something a little less superficial to attract...ooooh, is that a dragon? Coooooooooooool!"

Nicely played.


message 29: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments I think I'm probably 70-30 split SF/F. I've always read *some* Fantasy and I'm sure the ratio has fluctuated wildly over the years, but I prefer SF over every other genre.

SF just seems cooler, while Fantasy so often falls into the same cliches and tropes.


message 30: by Cliff (new)

Cliff | 69 comments I've personally leaned towards Fantasy over Sci-Fi. But I attribute a large part of that preference in what I was trying to get out of reading.

In most cases, I'm looking for an escape and Fantasy accomplishes that better for me. Sci-Fi (I realize this is going to make me sound simple) often requires me to have to think too much and that detracts from my reading for pleasure. But sometimes I'm in the mood to be challenged.


message 31: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments SF does often have an intellectual cover charge that Fantasy doesn't. Not always, but frequently.


message 32: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (matthewdl) | 341 comments Overall, I read more Sci-Fi than fantasy. About 70-30 I think. I like books that have a bit of social commentary or some sort of thought experiment and i think that's what pulls me more towards sci-fi. That being said, my list of most cherished books has a disproportionate amount of Fantasy in it (American Gods, Tolkien, etc.)


message 33: by Gary (new)

Gary I think fantasy is harder to write well, particularly these days. We live in a world that is very accepting of technology, and we put up little fuss with the basic premise of SF. Nobody has to explain what a starship does. Fantasy novels often have to introduce topics and define them, and even if done well there's a fundamental disconnect between the reader and the subject.

I always appreciate the accomplishment of a piece of literature, and fantasy is a tougher mountain to climb, so when it's done equally well, I prefer magic to mesons.


message 34: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments I will say s/f can deal with issues and ideas a bit better but lets be honest fantasy ages better.


message 35: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Cardin | 68 comments I am blessed to enjoy both. But for either to succeed they have to grab me emotionally. I have to CARE about the characters...that must be a universal thing? Perhaps not, it seems like lots of readers enjoy an uncaring, morally ambiguous protagonist.


message 36: by Magda Żmijan (last edited Mar 20, 2013 01:40AM) (new)

Magda Żmijan | 76 comments Gary wrote: "I think fantasy is harder to write well, particularly these days. We live in a world that is very accepting of technology, and we put up little fuss with the basic premise of SF. Nobody has to ex..."

I can't agree with you here. I'm not a writer, but my imagination always goes to fantastic creatures, magic, castles not to star ships and robots. It's easier for me to imagine city transformed into wild land full of dragons than to some sf scene.
maybe that's why I prefer fantasy :)


message 37: by Candice (new)

Candice Nunu (nunu_noodles) | 52 comments I love both, but I seem to fall more easily into fantasy worlds than sci fi worlds. Fantasy is my brain luxuriating on the couch with a fluffy blanket :)


message 38: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments Gary wrote: "I think fantasy is harder to write well, particularly these days. We live in a world that is very accepting of technology, and we put up little fuss with the basic premise of SF. Nobody has to ex..."

I actually think the opposite. Sci-fi often has different or advanced tech that needs explaining (some more than others) whereas in fantasy, its easy to say, "well dragons are here because magic" and not need too much explanation.


message 39: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Gunzel (jeffgunzel) | 18 comments I actually enjoy both, but I read more fantasy than anything else. I think I am just more drawn to it since reading RA Salvatore and Terry Goodkind as a kid.

I once heard fantasy referred to as lazy sci-fi because it's easier to write. Not sure I agree but it was still an interesting point of view.


message 40: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments Christopher wrote: "I will say s/f can deal with issues and ideas a bit better but lets be honest fantasy ages better."

I have to assume you're talking about a very narrow subset of Fantasy here, since a lot of Urban Fantasy can get dated rather quickly if the author ties it too closely to current events. For static, stale, same ol' same ol' Epic Fantasy -- what's called Extruded Fantasy Product -- of wizards and barbarians and dragons, yeah, that doesn't change, because that world never changes.


message 41: by Carrie (new)

Carrie  (icanhasbooks) | 66 comments I would have to lean more towards fantasy, only because that is what I have read more of. Lately I've been searching to find some good sci-fi so I can branch out to that area.


message 42: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments I recommend checking out the essay Dragons Over Spaceships: Fantasy and Science Fiction as Cultural Prostheses by R. Scott Bakker.

An excerpt:
Given the cognitive opacity of the future one might expect a culture to offer ‘cognitive seeming’ accounts of what we might expect. Since we know only that the future will be different, and since what we want is cognition–or the semblance of it, anyway–what need is someway of getting from here and now to there and then which gives the impression of cognition. What we need, in other words, are pseudo-cognitive transformation rules that provide the semblance of a horizon of expectation. Since science is the paradigm of knowledge, one might expect these rules to be ‘apparently scientific.’ Since technological innovation is the obvious ‘problem,’ one might expect it to constitute the primary locus for these rules.

In other words, one might expect the development of science fiction or something like it.

Given the gap between the intentional world of our experience (what is commonly called, following Husserl, the Lebenswelt, or ‘lifeworld’)–the world we recognize–and the deintentionalized world described by scientific theory–the world we cognize–one might expect a culture to generate surrogates, worlds where recognition is cognition. Since the scientific deintentionalization of the world has caused this lacuna, one might expect these alternate worlds to repudiate the validity of science. Since all we possess are pre-scientific, historical contexts as models for ‘intentional worlds without science,’ one might expect these to provide the models for these alternate worlds. Put differently, one might expect culture to provide ‘associative elimination rules,’ ways to abstract from the present, for the production of alternate intentional contexts which conform to, and so repatriate, the otherwise displaced space of our experience.

One might expect the development of fantasy literature or something like it.



message 43: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments "Academiaspeak Shields at maximum, Cap'n! Comprehension penetration less than 7% and holding!"

"Lacuna matata, yeoman. Watch that Interpolation Meter if you please."

"Aye aye, sir!"


message 44: by Rasnac (new)

Rasnac | 336 comments I like the funny pages :)


message 45: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments Trike wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I will say s/f can deal with issues and ideas a bit better but lets be honest fantasy ages better."

I have to assume you're talking about a very narrow subset of Fantasy here, ..."


even that fantasy only ages as badly as any other fiction, on the other hand it can take weeks for something in s/f to start feeling out of date. predictions have a sell by date that is often shorter then milk. please don't misunderstand me i love s/f


message 46: by Peter (new)

Peter | 1 comments Fantasy. Magic, sword, bows and arrows, dragons, etc... I just love it all!


message 47: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Weis | 126 comments Scott wrote: "Read fantasy
Watch sci-fi

Very rarely will I watch any fantasy that I like - it always seems more fun in my head.
Very rarely will I read any sci-fi that I like - the sci-fi that I read tends to r..."



Ooooo yes!

I've always loved to read Fantasy. Since I was a kid... but the movies and tv shows let me down more often than not whereas sci-fi on tv and in the movies I *love love love* even when it's cheesy and bad... but sometimes I have a really rough time getting into the book even when everyone else seems to love it.

That being said I've opened up a lot more to sci-fi books the past few years, being a part of Sword and Laser and also when Borders closed, their final weekend I picked up every book that has ever looked marginally interesting to me for 90% off. That netted me a bunch (Four boxes full) of books I'm STILL going through.

I do find though that I tend to like older Sci-fi better than most new Sci-fi. Give me a Dune or Enders game style book over almost anything being released right now.


message 48: by Joël (new)

Joël (jolandaellen) I don't really like all those technical and electronic stuff.

And I find myself more and more interested in a minimalistic lifestyle.

So it's kind of natural to have a greater love for fantasy.


message 49: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8292 comments Joël wrote: "I don't really like all those technical and electronic stuff.

And I find myself more and more interested in a minimalistic lifestyle.

So it's kind of natural to have a greater love for fantasy."


Whoa... how are you communicating with us? Crystal ball? Mind = blown.


message 50: by Glaiza (last edited Apr 16, 2013 11:11PM) (new)

Glaiza | 16 comments Ditto the personal preference arguments above.

I lean towards reading more fantasy but I noticed that some of my favourite authors write books in both genres. I'm just a fan of a solid, imaginative worlds with intriguing characters - whether it's fantasy or sci-fi. I tend to like books that are a blend between fantasy and science fiction - sci-fi elements can offer an interesting backbone for a fantasy story to expand upon.

I also watch sci-fi because it's usually adapted well/in a unique way whereas fantasy film adaptations can be rocky (excluding lotr and game of thrones.)


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