Fantasy or Science Fiction? Does it Really Matter?

When I was growing up, one of my favorite authors was Andre Norton. During her 93 years of life, Ms. Norton wrote more than 130 books.  I have read most of them and own copies of 30 or more, tucked away in boxes.

I didn’t know until I was grown that Andre Norton was a women and that she took that pen name because when she started writing, science fiction readers were perceived as all males.

Her science fiction is what I have always referred to as “soft” science fiction.  Her plots do not depend on technology, although she does have space travel in some of her books.  Sometimes she has her characters find and deal with advanced alien technology.  Most of her books are set on other worlds in the future.  But almost all of her science fiction books contain elements of fantasy.  Many of her young characters have mental telepathy with animals or psi powers, which they are born with or develop in the course of the novel.

Her Witch World novels are now called fantasy, but when I first read them, they were shelved with the science fiction. They have elements of science fiction such as portals through time and space, and one evil race has advanced technology.  My local bookstore separates science fiction from fantasy, and her books are shelved in both sections: science fiction and fantasy, depending on the cover, title, and who shelves the books.  Why bother separating?

Why are we in such a dither about classifying and putting books into a category?  Can’t we just enjoy a good story?  Publishers and book sellers may want to target their readers with narrow categories, but most readers I know that read science fiction also read fantasy.  Many books blend some elements of both, just like Andre Norton’s books.  And that’s just the way I like it.

How about YOU?

 My Fantasy or Science Fiction? post is a spinoff  from the blog topic “Genre-bending”of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour .  Each month on a different topic, you can as a reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s posting by S.J. Reisner

Over twenty other writers are posting on the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.  You might want to check out other posts.  You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Have fun with your travels!



Filed under About books, About writing

3 responses to “Fantasy or Science Fiction? Does it Really Matter?

  1. Wow–Andre Norton was my idol when I was growing up. Her work (and later Madeline L’Engle’s) was what made me want to become a writer. I found a copy of “Moon of Three Rings” at a used bookstore a few years ago and just having it made me insanely happy. I agree with you at the frustration over compartmentalization.

    • Sue

      It’s good to find another Andre Norton fan. I think one of the reasons I liked Andre Norton so much was that her characters were usually underdogs searching for belonging. She focused on action and her books read swiftly because she always had something happening.

      P.S. Madeline L’Engle was one of my favorites, also.

  2. Pingback: If Fried Chicken Could Fly–or How Do You Choose What to Write? | SueSantore: About Books, Writing, and More

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