Dear Gina, Did You Know that You Can Have Chocolate AND Peanut Butter?

I bet you totally did not know that, because in your not-a-review you seemed baffled that there might be science in the fantasy. That you did not know that science can be in fantasy–even in epic-type fantasy– was very obvious and it made your not-a-review kind of funny in an insulting way because you couldn’t even be bothered to oh, grab a geek from the lunch room and find out about this fantasy stuff before you decided to write the review about a program you knew you wouldn’t like. (I keep harping on that, I know. I just can’t believe that you did that. It makes no sense at all and I must poke at it like a sore tooth.)

If you had asked that hypothetical geek in the lunchroom, “Hey, why is there some kind of global warming thing going on in this show?” The hypothetical geek would explain to you that actually there is often quite a lot of science in fantasy (and also, there can be science fiction in fantasy, and fantasy in science fiction.) There can also be social commentary and real world issues mixed in with your elves and swords. (Also, they would explain that crazy seasons aren’t just about global warming–it might just be the Ragnarok, which features three long apocalyptic winters back to back without any summer.) Therefore, a fantasy which featured apocalyptically long winters might also be about global warming or even nuclear winter.

They might also point out to you that fantasy–like every other form of fiction–must be true to the real world in such a way as to increase suspension of disbelief. Diana Wynne Jones points this out with exceeding brilliance in her The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land where she goes over every single fantasy trope and cliché that has ever appeared in a fantasy novel in such a way to make anyone who has ever contemplated writing fantasy wince in shame and revise his or her manuscript frantically. The Tough Guide has saved a few writers from disaster and has caused many a fantasy reader to giggle with a kind of semi-embarrassed delight. If you could not find a hypothetical geek in the lunchroom, you would have done well to find yourself a copy of this book.

Two writers who often combine science and/or social commentary within their fantasy works are L.E Modesitt Jr. and Diane Duane. Duane’s Young Wizards makes extensive use of science, particularly astronomy. Several of the characters use technology and even have magical abilities related to the repair or creation of technological devices. (One character in particular has made friends with a giant super computer). L.E. Modesitt Jr. discusses feminism, gender equality and other social issues in his Recluce novels. (And generally deals with environmental issues in many of his other works.) Another writer, Steven Brust, has frequently included science and occasionally technology in his Dragaera/Vlad Taltos series. (The Dragaerans have knowledge of genetics; and can actually identify individual genes using magic, for instance.) Zelazny’s Amber novels are a mix of fantasy and science fiction (leaning toward fantasy) and many urban fantasies and paranormal romances have used at least a little science and technology to get by.

In short, yes Gina, there can be science in the fantasy. There can also be social commentary and real world issues cleverly disguised as fantasy world issues.

Deeply disappointed that Lorrie Moore does not write about giant eagles,




Filed under Meta, Ramble

2 responses to “Dear Gina, Did You Know that You Can Have Chocolate AND Peanut Butter?

  1. And also, winter is coming!I read the review – the woman is utterly clueless, but I loved your responses!

  2. Thanks. "Gina" may become my personal vocabulary word for "clueless non-fantasy/science fiction/genre fan who causes tooth-grinding irritation."

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