I have never believed that there is a clear cut division between science fiction and fantasy. (In fact I don’t think there is a clean line between the differing fantasy genres such as “High Fantasy”, “Urban Fantasy” etc but that’s a whole different threads worth.)
I’ve been re-reading what is considered to be a classic sci-fi series – Dune. Once again I was struck by how much fantasy there was in this sci-fi universe. I know Arthur C Clarkes law “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
However to me there are themes that definitely fade far past the borders of possible science and advanced tech, and into the realms of pure imagination.
An example of what I mean is the various themes of prophecy. Distinct from the prophecy theme is the way the way characters can see the future, or different futures plural. Also clones can have “cellular memory” belonging to the original donor, and access to memories never experienced by the original cell donor but belonging to other clones. No matter how advanced your technology, at least some of this is still going to be impossible.
I have also recently re-read a classic fantasy series – the Morgaine novels by CJ Cherryh. This is marketed and touted as one of the classic High Fantasy series, and yet the magical powers wielded by Morgaine are based on advanced technology and hard science.
And then of course there are the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey, and her son Todd. These started as pure fantasy, with some of the common sci-fi “magic” such as telepathy and teleportation (psionics to you younger chaps and chapesses) but it gradually became clear that there is a great deal of science fiction happening as well – the entire world is a colony from star faring ships that faces disaster and thus reverts to simpler technology. The dragons are in fact the result of DNA manipulation of the flying lizards. Long lost high tech machines are found in this pseudo-medieval world.
So what do you think? Is there really a nice, neat division between the genres? If there is an overlap, how big is it? Can you think of any works that have both fantasy and science fiction elements?