Definitions of science fiction and fantasy and some thoughts on the subject.


Science fiction is no more written for scientists that ghost stories are written for ghosts.
Brian Aldiss

Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us.
Isaac Asimov

It's probably a good general idea to avoid not just equations but numbers. Try to give readers a feel for the subject matter in terms of ordinary experience. Avoid the cortex; go for the hind brain.
Stephen Baxter

Science fiction is a controlled way to think and dream about the future. An integration of the mood and attitude of science (the objective universe) with the fears and hopes that spring from the unconscious. Anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out. Nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible.
Gregory Benford

In science there is a dictum: don't add an experiment to an experiment. Don't make things unnecessarily complicated. In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story.
Ben Bova

Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together.
Ray Bradbury

I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.
Ray Bradbury

Science Fiction has always been and will always be a fable teacher of morality.
Ray Bradbury

As its best, Science fiction is the medium in which our miserable certainty that tomorrow will be different from today in ways we cant predict, can be transmuted to a sense of excitement and anticipation, occasionally evolving into awe. Poised between intransigent skepticism and uncritical credulity, it is par excellence the literature of the open mind.
John Brunner

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them, into the impossible.
Arthur C. Clarke

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.
Arthur C. Clarke


Science fiction is something that could happen but usually you wouldn't want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen though often you only wish that it could.
Arthur C. Clarke

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.
Cyril Connolly

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
Philip K. Dick

If it has horses and swords in it, it's a fantasy, unless it also has a rocketship in it, in which case it becomes science fiction. The only thing that'll turn a story with a rocketship in it back into fantasy is the Holy Grail.
Debra Doyle

To write good sci-fi today you must push further and harder, reach deeper into your own mind until you break through into the strange and terrible country wherein live your own dreams.
Gardner Dozois

For Star Wars, they had me tape down my breasts because there are no breasts in space. I have some. I have two.
Carrie Fisher

Science fiction deals with unprobable possibilities, fantasy believable impossibilities.
Miriam Allen de Ford

By "scientification"... I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type of story, a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.
Hugo Gernsback

The Golden Age of science fiction is thirteen.
David Hartwell

Don't use metaphors in fantasy; your readers will take them literally. Or they may take them figuratively but if so, they'll also take your magics and transformations figuratively. Either way, you're in trouble.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden

There's a rule for what makes good fantasy work, and it's as strange as any riddle ever posed in a fairy tale: In fantasy, you can do anything; and therefore, the one thing you must not do is 'just anything.' Why? Because in a story where anything can happen and anything can be true, nothing matters. You have no reason to care what happens. It's all arbitrary, and arbitrary isn’t interesting.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden


The trouble with science fiction is that you can write about everything: time, space, all the future, all the past, all of the universe, any kind of creature imaginable. That's too big. It provides no focus for the artist. An artist needs, in order to function, some narrowing of focus. Usually, in the history of art, the narrower the focus in which the artist is forced to work, the greater the art.
Philip Klass

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.
Ursula K. Le Guin

SF is not about the future but a future.
Fredrick Pohl

The future depicted in a good SF story ought to be in fact possible, or at least plausable. That means that the writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true... and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you.
Frederick Pohl

That's really what Science fiction is all about, you know: the big reality that pervades the real world we live in: the reality of change. Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have.
Frederick Pohl

Does the story tell me something worth knowing, that I had not known before, about the relationship between man and technology? Does it enlighten me on some area of science where I had been in the dark? Does it open a new horizon for my thinking? Does it lead me to think new kinds of thoughts, that I would not otherwise perhaps have thought at all? Does it suggest possibilities about the alternative possible future courses my world can take? Does it illuminate events and trends of today, by showing me where they may lead tomorrow? Does it give me a fresh and objective point of view on my own world and culture, perhaps by letting me see it through the eyes of a different kind of creature entirely, from a planet light-years away? - These qualities are not only among those which make science fiction good, they are what make it unique. Be it never so beautifully written, a story is not a good science fiction story unless it rates high in these aspects. The content of the story is as valid a criterion as the style.
Frederick Pohl

Science fiction is fantasy with bolts painted on outside.
Terry Pratchett

Fantasy doesn't have to be fantastic. American writers in particular find this much harder to grasp. You need to have your feet on the ground as much as your head in the clouds. The cute dragon that sits on your shoulder also craps all down your back, but this makes it more interesting because it gives it an added dimension.
Terry Pratchett


Are you sure this is a sci-fi convention? It's full of nerds!
Homer Simpson

A science fiction story is a story with a human problem, and a human solution, that would not have happened at all without its scientific content.
Theodore Sturgeon


By challenging anthropocentricism and temporal provincialism, science fiction throws open the whole of civilization and its premises to constructive criticism.
Alvin Toffler

What's wrong with the modern times is that the future isn't what it used to be.
Paul Valery

The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.
H. G. Wells

"Hard" science fiction probes alternative possible futures by means of reasoned extrapolations in much the same way that good historical fiction reconstructs the probable past. Even far-out fantasy can present a significant test of human values exposed to a new environment. Deriving its most cogent ideas from the tension between permanence and change, science fiction combines the diversions of novelty with its pertinent kind of realism.
Jack Williamson

I could speculate, but it would be just speculation and the kind of thing that you would get in with a science fiction story. And if I was doing a science fiction story then I would come up with what can go wrong with this system.
Gene Wolfe
...commenting about the future of book publishing technology

Woody Allen once said: "You know there must be intelligent life in space. The question is do they have good Chinese restaurants and do they deliver?" Which is really a joke, but it is also a very profound remark. When you say do they have good Chinese restaurants, what you're really saying is, "How much are they like us?" And when you say, "Do they deliver?" you're saying, "Can they get here?" Both of which are profound questions. And at the present, we have no answers.
Gene Wolfe