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charlie, computer cat

April 2019



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charlie, computer cat

Is magic the defining element of fantasy? Discuss.


If it is, where does that leave Gormenghast?
You've been reading too much Clute! :-p
Did you just have "track comments" on this post on the off-chance? :-p
No, believe it or not.
Haven't read it but I'm happy to take it as a counter example. I was thinking of ways to group fantasies for the kids in my class and realised I couldn't come up with any which didn't have some form of magic in them.
Interesting. That in some ways mimics the categories we came up with and in some ways not (mainly because the display is for a different purpose and a very different audience than the book, I think).
Impossibility-within-currently-known-laws-of-nature is the defining element of fantasy, and magic is the most prominent (but not the only) presentation of that.
I think that's probably what my sleep-addled brain wanted to say.
I'd always thought fantasy was about the setting, in that the setting was an imagined context. That may or may not involve magic. I'm also inclined to think science fiction is a subset/flavour of fantasy though, and lots of people have disagreed with me on that.
I waver between that view and not. It is interesting that one of the things that I've noticed tends to happen when trying to put a book on either side of that line is that the supernatural elements are examined as to whether they're magical or scientific and that's used as a divider.
Tricky though, because sometimes the only difference between magic and science is whether or not you understand how it works.
The Anne McCaffery books dragon books don't have magic, just giant telepathic dragons.
I was just thinking about that.
I am developing a theory, in much the same way one might a gallstone, that fantasy is different from science fiction in that it doesn't try to convince you its world is plausible. Or at least doesn't have to.

It's not that fantasy worlds aren't plausible, it's that a fantasy can just dump its world in front of you and go "there it is". An SF story has to earn your belief.

SF is tackled with a hovercraft of disbelief; fantasy gets a flying carpet.

This is not helpful.