Differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy

We all love science fiction and fantasy. Because we all like to dream. So are these two types related to each other? Have you ever thought about that?

The difference between science fiction and fantasy

Science fiction and fantasy both fall under the speculative fiction genre, in which many elements, characters and settings arise from fantasy and speculation rather than reality and everyday life. However, there is a distinct difference between science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction is based on science and technology and therefore shows scenarios that might one day apply. Fantasy, on the other hand, contains many supernatural elements and takes place in a world that does not and can never exist. Therefore, the main difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction has its basis in science and consists of possibilities whereas Fantasy has no basis of reality and is made up of impossibilities.

fantasy and scifi difference

Science fiction is based on future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes. It often deals with futuristic settings and plots such as time travel, space travel, extra-terrestrial life, parallel universes, and various futuristic scientific inventions. This type of fiction often involves various laws or theories of science. Since it contains scenarios and technologies based on science, it makes logical sense. Hence the story is plausible and can be explained through science and reasoning. Science fiction is about things that can happen in the real world.


Different world understanding

Science fiction can basically be divided into hard science fiction and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction often involves precise details, particularly physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, and shows precise and predicted advanced technologies yet to be invented. Soft science fiction is based on social sciences like psychology, political science, sociology, economics, and anthropology and is not as scientific as the hard genre.


Fantasy on the other hand, is a literary genre that uses supernatural elements as the main element, theme, or setting of the plot. Many stories belonging to this genre take place in imaginary worlds in which magical and other supernatural creatures exist. Imagination can be considered one of the oldest genres of literature. If we look at some of the oldest surviving stories from ancient civilizations, most of them contain supernatural elements such as gods, demons, and other supernatural creatures. Many legends and myths also belong to this genre. Indeed, modern fantasy fantasies are often inspired by folklore and mythology.  While science fiction seeks to anticipate a possible future, fantasy tries to invent a past that never existed. Science fiction tries to advance into the immeasurable universe and into the depths of our unfathomed humanity. In return, Fantasy reflects on obvious and yet obviously impossible worlds with clear characteristics such as good and bad. While science fiction itself in its pessimistic version is about progress, or at least its failure, fantasy often clings to ideas from the past. While science fiction imagines other species and civilizations that could often surpass us, fantasy creates a freely combinable mix of dragons, witches and trolls from the repertoire of past eras.

Putting science fiction and fantasy together is a complete misunderstanding.

What do science fiction and fantasy have in common? The only thing that really connects science fiction and fantasy is the place where the stories take place: They do not take place in our reality. Not more. Is science fiction better than fantasy, or is one of it even damnable? Neither nor. Both genres have their place. However, they are diametrically different and should not be confused.

sci fi world

However, this is no wonder in our increasingly complex world where the clear benchmarks of the past are being lost. Fantasy is like a retreat. While humans and their relatives such as elves and dwarves are portrayed as naturally goodwill, the enemies are not humans but monsters. The enemy is not a human being, he is worse than an animal, because it only kills to survive, not because it is malicious. But the monster kills for pleasure and as an end in itself. Therefore, some films that are tip the wink as science fiction are nothing more than fantasy set into the future. The seemingly obvious question “what is the difference between science fiction and fantasy?” Is therefore wrongly posed. We should rather say: Ground-breaking sci-fi enables us to foresee or even plan a future as we want to see or fear it. Fantasy is there to completely free us from the shackles of reality and to let our mind wander. Science fiction, as fantastic as the depiction may seem, such as time travel or human-like robots, takes for granted that there has to be a rational explanation for everything. The question of whether something is of a natural or supernatural nature arises only in fantasy; science fiction implicitly assumes that all there is. Fantasy, on the other hand, designs worlds that can be reached from ours or exist completely apart from it, but in which the fantastic does not unsettle, because it is a natural part of the fictional world. Fantasy novels could be seen as extended fairy tales, they live and breathe magic.