The difference between science fiction and fantasy

“The difference between science fiction and fantasy … is simply this: science fiction has rivets and fantasy has trees.” — Orson Scott Card

5 thoughts on “The difference between science fiction and fantasy

  1. Actually, it strikes me as a pretty good first approximation to answering the question — even though some of the best fantasy has rivets (OMG, the Iron Dragon’s Daughter!) and some of the best SF has trees (Pacific Edge, for one). Still, the difference between the two genres is as much choice of imagery as anything else….

  2. The context of the quote is an interview with Card. He explains how one of his stories was rejected by a science fiction publisher because it was fantasy and not science fiction. Card was surprised because he thought he was writing science fiction. He then added a back story to explain how things in his story worked, and was able to publish the book as science fiction.

    His comment is glib, but as Sol said, it’s a pretty good first approximation. Rivets versus trees, technology versus magic, etc.

    I’m not a literature professor, so I’m not overly concerned with classifying what I read. I just like a good story.

  3. He is also talking about the covers of these books not the story itself. Its if the cover has rivets its sci-fi if the cover has trees on it its fantasy.

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