Teen Summer Reading

Takoma Park Library

Teen Summer Reading

Genre Explorer: Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy

image of the genre explorer badge

With just a little over a month left to sign up and complete Summer Reading, I wanted to spotlight the Teen Summer Reading Program by taking a look at the Genre Explorer Badge and two of my favorite genres: science fiction and fantasy. 

Taking on the challenge of the Genre Explorer Badge is a great opportunity to examine in depth two separate genres, find out what interests you, or even what you dislike, and to explore their differences and similarities.

Partly in jest, Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game and a writer in both genressaid in an interview, "fantasy has trees, and science fiction has rivets.  That's it, that's all the difference there is, the difference of feel, perception." http://www.hatrack.com/research/articles/1989-01-howard-mittelmark.shtml

But in truth, as Orson Scott Card well knows, the distinctions are more complex and nuanced, sometimes indiscernible, and many aspects of what one loves, or dislikes, about a fantasy novel may also be true for science fiction.

In doing some online research on what others have had to say when comparing science fiction and fantasy, I came across a wonderful article written by Mark Wilson. In it he explains, "Science fiction and fantasy both explore other realities than our own. And in the sense that either way what really matters in human nature, the difference is one of setting and environment.

But there is a fundamental difference -- one of aspiration. Humanity can look forward to the kinds of achievements postulated in science fiction, while with another part of our brain we can dream of the impossibilities conjured by fantasy. Science fiction expands our world; fantasy transcends it." http://scifi.about.com/od/scififantasyfaqs/f/faq_difference.htm

It would be hard for me to say which is my favorite, science fiction or fantasy, because of how they both explore human nature and reality, but maybe one of you teens out there will make a compelling argument to sway me. 

photo of the teen summer reading display at takoma park library