This is a question I’m asked repeatedly and it’s one which I’ve written about previously. It seems to be asked by readers who tend to shy away from this kind of fiction, the impression being that the stories are all about strange creatures with large, bulbous heads, glowing red eyes and crocodile skin. Certainly, there were early ‘B’ movies and comic magazines that promoted this kind of stuff (and still do), but Sci-Fi and Fantasy have come a long way since then.
Interestingly, with that thought in mind, a journalist colleague who writes a column under the name, Mr Grumpy, reviewed my books recently and said: ‘I have not read sci-fi since I was a young man and must say the first 60 pages of Bill’s book proved intriguing. In fact, I’m unable to put the book down at night and this has caused the wife much grumpiness because of the bedside light.’ So now he is waiting patiently for the third book in the series – hopefully he will not be disappointed!
However, to answer the question: Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I would suggest the reader, with an open approach, reads as wide a selection of the two genres as possible. This, at least, will give some idea, and probably an enjoyable surprise or two, of what is on offer.
There is also what might be described as a third genre that the reader might explore; and is usually referred to as Science Fantasy. To explain this, as I did in a previous article, and which other authors have suggested is a very simplistic answer, is the following:
Sci-Fi (Science Fiction) deals with what may be possible through science, technology, and the real world. This would, for example, include stories by H.G. Wells, based on known science at that time. While Fantasy explores the impossible world, say, of J.R.R. Tolkien; and of magic, the supernatural, zombies, vampires, mythical gods and whatever else the imagination can conjure up.
And then, there is the third genre, of course, which incorporates elements from the previous two, such as Star Trek and Star Wars where the science of the future combines so readily within a fantasy world. I would include my own books, The Timecrack Adventures, which tell of parallel universes and time travel in a mix with fantastic beings, in this genre.
There are many more examples in your local library or book store, so why not take a look and see what’s on offer?