The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3) The Lord of the Rings discussion


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Why do some people consider The Lord of the Rings science fiction?

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message 1: by Hold_My_Heart (Rachel) (last edited Jan 12, 2014 02:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hold_My_Heart (Rachel) It's NOT set in space, so why is lotr considered sci fi by some people? Sci fi would be more: Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly. Can someone explain why some think this goes into the sci fi category?


message 2: by Mitali (last edited Jan 14, 2014 10:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mitali I've never heard of anyone categorizing LOTR as sci-fi. It's categorized as fantasy - in fact, for most people, it's the ultimate example of fantasy.

However, some people don't distinguish between sci-fi and fantasy, or else club them under the same heading of 'sci-fi/fantasy' or 'speculative fiction', or so on. That's because there is considerable overlap between the two genres, and there are many books which straddle the two. LOTR is definitely not one such book, though - it's purely fantasy.

Sci-fi is not necessarily set in space - anything that involves a scientific underpinning of a speculative premise, such as time travel, parallel universes, faster-than-light travel, etc. can be considered sci-fi. Anything with a premise that is based more on 'magic' or other supernatural underpinnings is categorized as fantasy. But as I mentioned above, the two things could overlap. In Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, there are scientific explanations (or rather semi/pseudo-scientific) of phenomena such as Dust and Parallel Universes, as well as magical/unexplained phenomena such as Daemons and talking Bears. It's usually categorized as fantasy, but it could be called sci-fi as well.


Mark scifi is such different genre when compared to LOTR, the only reason somebody would put it in such a genre is a plain oldfashioned lack of knowledge.


message 4: by Matthew (last edited Mar 26, 2014 12:35PM) (new)

Matthew Blair If you think about it, you could actually read "Lord of the Rings" as a post apocalyptic science fiction book. Let me walk you through it. Humanity destroys itself in a great war where they engineer horrible weapons to kill each other, two of which are the Balrogs and dragons. So the last of humanity decides to go into hiding and wait for the Earth to recover.

The Dwarfs aren't human, their mutated cave burrowing creatures who spent too much time around these massive nuclear power plants that powered Old Earth. They mutated into the Dwarfs and learned that the limited amount of radiation helped sustain them. As a result they continue to dig and dig to find more of this buried waste (it's been there a while and the radiation doesn't really effect the other races). So that would make the Arkenstone from "The Hobbit" a small nuclear reactor.

When the survivors emerged from their fallout shelters they established themselves as the race of Men. One group tried to remember the works of their ancestors and established their capital in the old Earth city now called Gondor. The other half decided to forego that and make the best they could with the new world and established the country of Rohan.

However, a small faction held on to the knowledge of the old world and were able to utilize its technology to prolong their lives. These became the Elves. But they knew it wouldn't last forever and without advanced medical equipment they would die. They remembered that Earth had other colonies in space and have been trying to find a way to get off the planet and reach them. This is the "Last Journey" Tolkien talks about and they can't get there for reasons that will be discussed later. Just like Gondor and Rohan, a group of these elites decided to make a life for themselves on this new world and modified themselves to live a long life and adapt to the environment, namely smaller statures to use less energy and furry feet to forego the need for shoes. These are the ancestors of the Hobbits. However, in their attempt to engineer themselves into more perfect beings they made some mistakes which resulted in horrifying monsters. These monsters escaped and would breed and expand to become the Orcs.

Now, before ancient humans went underground they engineered a system to try to fix the earth for when they were able to return. They created the Ents to try to replant a barren earth and they created three artificially intelligent androids to act as guides and repositories for all their knowledge. Those three androids are the wizards. Saruman exists to lead and retain the knowledge of mankind, Gandalf exists to guide and teach humanity when the emerged, and Radagast to oversee the regrowth and creation of the New Earth. They also created another AI to oversee everything and attempt to make contact with their space colonies. However, something went wrong and that AI decided that humanity had to die. That AI was Sauron.

There's much more if you want me to continue, but this post long enough for now.


Donna Because they are crazy? or maybe because often at bookstores the sci fi and fantasy books are in the same section.


Gerd I never encountered anyone that would have considered "The Lord of the Rings" to be SF - however, to use SF&F has become a standard of sorts, but it doesn't mean that people are not aware that it is two different genres.


Geoffrey `Cuz they just don`t know no better.


message 8: by Matthew (last edited Mar 27, 2014 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams Narnian525♥♪ wrote: "It's NOT set in space, so why is lotr considered sci fi by some people? Sci fi would be more: Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly. Can someone explain why some think this goes into the sci fi category?"

Who says LOTR is sci-fi? Certainly not anyone I've ever head from. Is it more along the lines of people consider it to be part of the sci-fi/fantasy spectrum, because those two genres are often grouped together.

And Matthew, if you have to go to those lengths and through those kinds of mental gymnastics to think of something like LOTR as science fiction, then you've clearly taken a wrong turn and ended up in bizarro world!


message 9: by Gary (new)

Gary Well, there's no meaningful science and a bunch of fantasy elements... but aside from that, it's all sci-fi. Elves instead of aliens. Dwarves instead of droids. Eagles instead of escape pods.

There are parallels between the genres, but they are more along the lines of an emphasis on world building and plot features than anything like genre. Science fiction and fantasy are alike in the same way that samurai movies are comparable to Westerns. Alike in general theme, but very different in execution.


message 10: by Maeros (last edited Nov 26, 2015 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maeros  Lord of the rings is typically considered fantasy, which is the idea of using magical, unreal or out-of-this-world phenomena as a main plot line
'High' fantasy being set in completely new worlds eg Middle Earth
'Low' fantasy being set in our world with tweaks eg skulduggery pleasant and harry potter (although these contain elements of high as well, because they have their own societies hidden away eg Roarhaven and Hogwarts)
'Alternate-History' fantasy being set in our world with something in the past changed, for example in The Clockwork Organge, where we can infer that the Soviet Union is or has been in control of Britain
whilst Sci-fi is often thought of as involving futuristic ideas, space or aliens, it can be much more than that
Brian Aldiss defined it as "The search for the definition of Man and his status in the universe"
it's usually cast in the gothic mould and focuses on 'cultural anxieties' for example Homer's Odyssey, which whilst being classic fantasy deals with the fear of the in-consequentiality if humanity in a much larger universe, as does LotR
also within LotR we see the development of technology (sci-fi again) and how it destroys idyllic agricultural life, a vision of the industrial revolution and our ongoing fear of developing warfare and the marketing, capitalist age
so Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit could be both Science fiction and fantasy, in different ways.


Geoffrey Sci Fi is set in the future. C´mon folks,Middle Earth ceased to be after the big Flood.


message 12: by Becca (new)

Becca Hart LOTR is certainly fantasy (high fantasy specifically), not sci-fi, although as previously noted, the two are often categorized together. It's full of fantastical, arguably "magical" creatures, not futuristic technology. I've never heard it categorized as a sci-fi, either.

Curiosity question: why do you think something not set in space isn't science fiction? Isaac Asimov is arguably the father of that genre, and he wrote science fiction not set in space. The Time Machine isn't set in space, but it's science fiction. The same is true for the Back to the Future movie series.


message 13: by Becca (new)

Becca Hart Matthew wrote: "If you think about it, you could actually read "Lord of the Rings" as a post apocalyptic science fiction book. Let me walk you through it. Humanity destroys itself in a great war where they enginee..."

This is an interesting idea, but it's a stretch, at least as far as I'm concerned. And it's an unnecessary stretch. There's nothing wrong with simply calling LOTR a fantasy, period. The mental gymnastics involved in trying to think of it as a science fiction are otherworldly in and of themselves.


message 14: by James (new)

James Larkin It's certainly not sci-fi. But magic is just science we don't understand thingyo c Clarke said.
There are things that sort of sciencey in there. The palantir definitely seems like a scientific object. An artifact that can make you invisible is another. The uruk hai have a kind of genetic manipulation origin.

I'm just saying


Thor.Stormlord I believe that in the past ALL fantasy novels and columns as was the norm back then were considered sci-fi, after the rise of "real" technology did most of these change to fantasy such as epic fantasy or high fantasy book and post-apocalyptic or space sci-fi genres.Does anyone remember things being like that ? i aint googling on it..


message 16: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Some writer believe they don't write science fiction either, which still is actual today. For me Lord of the Rings falls in the genre of Fantasy but I cannot be bothered if people think it is scifi, they have the right to be wrong. ;)


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