Science fiction and fantasy have captivated audiences for decades. While on the surface they might seem opposed, they can actually blend together in an exciting subgenre known as “science fantasy.” This subgenre mixes elements of science fiction, fantasy, and even horror to create some really amazing stories.
It often takes place in a futuristic or alternate world where magic and technology coexist (kind of like my series, The Starsea Cycle). Science fantasy deals with the themes of good versus evil, power, and human nature. It also frequently explores relationships between humans and non-humans, such as aliens or mythical creatures.
A lot of IP’s that people tend to think of as science fiction are actually science fantasy. Here are a few of my favorites:
Star Wars: The series takes place in a galaxy far, far away, and at first glance, with its futuristic technology and spaceships, it definitely feels like a pure sci-fi tale. But then you have Jedi knights and the Sith Lords, who use the Force, a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together. The two sides are always in conflict, and in the expanded canon, there is even a middle path.
The Dark Tower: This series blends science fiction, fantasy, horror, and even the Old West. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and follows the gunslinger Roland Deschain on his quest to reach the Dark Tower, a powerful structure that holds the key to saving his world. In the series, you have post-apocalyptic cities, a mad freight train, portals to other realities, strange monsters, and so much more.
Final Fantasy: This RPG is a staple of my youth. It's classic science fantasy, especially starting around the sixth installment, where tech and magic are often mixed. The series explores themes of war, love, and power, and my own writing would be much different had I never been exposed to these stories.
The Wheel of Time: True, it leans more toward the fantasy end of the spectrum. But if you dig into the lore, especially surrounding the Age of Legends, you start getting into magitech aspects of the WOT universe. And considering the previous age was our world, and the One Power might be thought of as a scientific phenomenon that spurred the Age of Legends. If interpreted in this way, then the series could technically be considered science fantasy.
The Starsea Cycle: This is my own series, and I'd consider it right in the middle of the spectrum. On one hand, we have space travel, a futuristic world, colonization, and a pending alien invasion. On the other, there's mages, mystical artifacts, and prophecies. For anyone who loves the science fantasy subgenre, it should scratch all the itches.
Whether you're a fan of science fiction, fantasy, or both, science fantasy is definitely a subgenre worth exploring.