Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Science Fiction

One of the genres of the Fantastic, a term which also encompasses Fantasy, Supernatural Fiction and supernatural Horror. Readers, writers and critics are more secure in their understanding of the nature of sf than when they attempt to define fantasy, but the entry on Definitions of Science Fiction in the SFE and the entry on Science Fiction in Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy (1986) by Gary K Wolfe (1946-    ) amply demonstrate that this security is only relative. In this encyclopedia the term science fiction (sf) normally refers to a genre separate from but overlapping with fantasy. By contrast with fantasy – which can be quickly defined as a body of self-coherent but impossible narratives – the label sf normally designates a text whose story is explicitly or implicitly extrapolated from scientific or historical premises. In other words, whether or not an sf story is plausible it can at least be argued. At its best sf contains a Sense of Wonder analogous to fantasy's Recognition or Slingshot Ending. [JC]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.