My thesis about science fiction is that (for the most part) it reflects the framework of my Provisional Conclusions: science fiction recognizes humanity’s existence within a vast, ancient universe; it recognizes that human perception of reality is incomplete and sometimes misleading; it recognizes that human culture, including religion, is contingent; most of all it recognizes change and the scientific method as key factors in understanding how humanity interacts and engages with the greater universe; and finally it speculates on potential futures, negative and positive.
(That science fiction is concerned with issues outside the relative bubble of human culture, where mainstream literature resides, is why SF is so often considered ‘escapist’.)
Fantasy, in contrast, prioritizes elements of human nature and human culture – including the imagining of endless variations of the supernatural illusions humans are subject to – over concern or engagement with the greater universe, or concern with historical context. Horror may be either fantasy or SF, though if the latter, it responds to recognition of the greater reality of the universe with fear, as existential threat to one’s person or one’s species.
My project about science fiction (and this blog) is to explore to what extent typical and canonical SF works support, or depart from, this framework.