Futuristic Fantasy?

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by Azzagorn, Dec 28, 2011.

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    Azzagorn

    Azzagorn Member

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    I guess I am asking does it exist? Other than in the 40,000 universe of the gamesworkshop?

    Off the top of my head, I can't think of any... Oh wait Terry Brooks! But otherewise I can't.

    Az
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    Metryq

    Metryq Cave Painter

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    You have to define your terms. If by "fantasy" you mean sword & sorcery, quests and the like, then "futuristic" may not be a typical combination. Many authors have mixed magic and technology, such as Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, or Heinlein's Glory Road, Waldo and Magic, Inc. The flip-side of Clarke's Law is "any sufficiently repeatable magic is indistinguishable from technology."

    However, some might define fantasy as any story involving technologies or phenomena that are completely imaginary, such as FTL warp drives, alternate universes, time travel, etc. The movie Fantastic Voyage even has "fantasy" in its name, despite all the high tech trappings.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers qualify as futuristic fantasy. The subgenre is not a new one.

    The Northwest Smith books by C. L. Moore. In fact, I think if you looked at the work of pulp writers in general you would find a fair amount of it.

    "Psi" powers is just another word for telepathy and telekinesis, so any books that rely too heavily on that could be called futuristic fantasy. In that case, quite a bit of Andre Norton's "science fiction" fits.
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    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Sword and the chain Joel Rosenberg? fantasy setting but they try to bring the modern world into the fantasy? Not sure, I might be stretching.
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    Ray Pullar

    Ray Pullar Licensed operator

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    Charles Harness: The Paradox Men, The Rose and many others.
    Frank Herbert: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune etc.

    Both belong to the sword & blaster school of space opera (the Dune books rule out use of firearms because of the shielding technology forcing a return to sword fights).

    P.S. See also the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels (John Carter of Mars, The Chessmen of Mars etc.) as the grand-daddy of this sub-genre. Both Harness & Burroughs strongly inspired the young Michael Moorcock whose work (e.g. the Hawkmoon fantasies) influenced the W40K setting.

    It would be worth looking at Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure quartet: City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wanhk, The Dirdir, The Pnume.
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    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    All of the Star Wars story types are pretty much firmly within Futuristic Fantasy. I've always thought of Dune in a similar vein, in that it was fantastic in nature. Likewise, I would include the John Carter books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, even if he was born in the 19thC.

    I could also make an argument that Heinlein's Starship Troopers is, in many ways, a fantasy theme (brave warriors fighting monsters) in a futuristic setting.

    Not really futuristic, but aliens and telepathy are at the core of Chocky by John Wyndham.
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    elvet

    elvet Easily amused

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    I'm reading one now - The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan. It's a sequel to Steel Remains.
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    woodsman

    woodsman Double-stuff Oreos!

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    I tend to think of most SF that isn't relatively hard as fantasy... A lot of Dick and le Guin for example.

    Glen Cook's Dark War series has magic powered space craft and space exploration alongside atomic weapons and powerful orders of magic users.
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    AMB

    AMB Advanced Muddle Brain

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    Butbutbut!! They happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    As Teresa said, a lot of pulp writers did such a combination, from Robert E. Howard (Almuric) to Jack Vance (the Dying Earth tales; The Dragon Masters) and so on. Even Heinlein has done some which at least border on that, such as Glory Road, Waldo, and Magic, Inc. (or several of his short stories, such as "--And He Built a Crooked House--" or "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants"). Not necessarily fantasy in the sense usually meant today (a semi-feudal society; castles; magical creatures such as one encounters in mythology and fairy tales, etc.), but most definitely fantasy for all that.

    And then you have writers like Harlan Ellison, or Ray Bradbury, who are usually called "science-fiction writers", but who would be the first to tell you that they are nothing of the kind, they are fantaisistes or fantasy writers because, though they often use tropes also used in science fiction (robots, space ships, alien planets, etc.), they seldom pay any attention to scientific accuracy or probability, using such things for their metaphoric and emotional significance. Fritz Leiber also did a fair amount of this sort of thing; even his "Gonna Roll the Bones" (included in Ellison's anthology Dangerous Visions) is a blending of science fiction, folktale, and outright fantasy. Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, J. G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, and even Brian W. Aldiss, have all done things which are more in the line of science fantasy, or futuristic fantasies, than either "straight" fantasy or science fiction.

    Or, for that matter, those which cross back and forth across that line, such as Anne McCaffrey's Pern, Andre Norton's Witch World stories, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover, etc. Or Joanna Russ's Adventures of Alyx, among others.

    In other words, there's one heck of a lot of it out there, depending on what definition one applies to "fantasy"....
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    steve12553

    steve12553 The Enigma of Steel

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    I still gotta think that if the author believes he/she is writing Science Fiction that it is even if the Science is bad or outdated. If the author takes you to a land of swords and dragons but explains it with Science (good or bad) it's still Science Fiction. I would have to reread the Barsoom novels to define them because I don't really remember whether John Carter felt there was an explanation for his travels or not. Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers relied on Science although not well thought out. I would call the Dune series Science Fiction but the first three Star Wars movies relied on the Force which made them Fantasy. (The prequels did a poor job of explaining The Force and making them Science Fiction, poor as they were.)
    Someone mentioned Starship Troopers. Heinlein had Science for every part of that. Telekinesis has a scientific definition even if it floats in the questionable range.
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    Connavar

    Connavar New Member

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    Jack Vance: Dying Earth, Planet of Adventure novels, The Last Castle, The Miracle Workers

    Leigh Brackett: The Ginger Star( Erik John Star book 1)

    Northwest Smith by CL Moore
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    Ray Pullar

    Ray Pullar Licensed operator

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    I don't think membership of this genre by a work is purely a matter of whether putative scientific principles explain the events of the story or how things work in it. It has more to do with the style and the atmosphere of the writing plus a combination of the archaic (swords, aristocracy, hokey religion) with some advanced technology.

    Another work occurs to me as possibly belonging to the sub-genre: The High Crusade by Poul Anderson. It relates the tale of a group of medieval knights & men-at-arms taking to the stars. And Anderson is commonly regarded as a hard SF writer (although he also wrote fantasies such as The Broken Sword).

    Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun deserves a mention and M. John Harrison's Viriconium as well.
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    That's SF set in the past, not fantasy set in the future. I don't remember the details but, however logistically implausible, other than the usual FTL, I don't recall anything making it purely, strictly fantasy. 'Course, my memory is generally poor.

    But this is getting bogged down in the perpetual indecision of "what is genre x?" and the OP never clarified what he meant.

    As possible items that might fit, maybe stuff like Kuttner and Moore's Earth's Last Citadel and some of their other science fantasies might qualify, but these were written as being loosely understood to be science fiction - they both wrote outright fantasy[1] and these aren't that.

    Also, I think Cherryh's Morgaine saga would qualify if the background was important though the foreground is pretty thoroughly fantasy-like.

    Silverberg's Majipoor began as definitely a very thorough blend of fantasy-feel and SF elements but I understand it became more fantasy oriented as it went on (I was satisfied after the original 3, so I'm not sure). That might qualify.

    If you treat Goldstein's The Dream Years as a fantasy (a story with time travel about surrealism), some of it is set in the future, at least.

    Some of Tanith Lee's "SF" might be better read as futuristic fantasy, such as Day by Night.

    Some Zelazny is heavily fantasticated, though usually billed as SF with genuine SF elements.

    And, yeah, much of PKD. And some Sturgeon. And if we're including Harness, we have to include much of van Vogt.

    Star Wars might be the definitive example, though the Force is probably more plausible than the spaceships. :)

    But it's kind of impossible to cite useful examples without clarification of what we're supposed to be giving examples of. ;)

    [1] Or at least Kuttner did - seems like most Moore is always mixed with some vague touch of SF at the least - I think "alternate dimensions" tend to be SF handwavium more than fantasy and I think those even occur in Jirel.
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    Azzagorn

    Azzagorn Member

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    Wow I feel a tad dumb now! But thanks for the tips.
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    Ray Pullar

    Ray Pullar Licensed operator

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    The story ends in the far future.

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    elvet

    elvet Easily amused

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    I'm going to mention 2 SF series that had more of a fantasy 'feel' to me, so you might check them out.
    Dan Simmons Hyperion books
    Tad Williams Otherworld books
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    As it begins. But that's just the prologue and epilogue, as Wikipedia notes - the entire 21 chapters (the "main events") are assumed to be c.1345 (and it's still got spaceships and aliens and such :)).
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    In A Princess of Mars, Carter is overcome by some gaseous emanation in the cave where he has taken refuge from a band of (iirc) Apaches, and awakens on Mars... yet his body is back on Earth, as is seen when he loses consciousness on Mars and awakens back on Earth, with his clothes and acoutrements decaying due to the passage of time and exposure to the elements. No explanation was given, any more than you have with Lesingham in The Worm Ouroboros....
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    Galacticdefender

    Galacticdefender SUN STEALER

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    I think Dune has enough of a science fiction element to be considered science fiction, and not fantasy. Warhammer 40,000 is the best (and most AWESOME) Science Fantasy universe I can think of at the moment. I guess Star Wars could also be considered futuristic fantasy as well.

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