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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fantasy and Science Fiction

Today we're going to have two guest blogs since last week was RWA National Convention. Please welcome PAN author Eilis Flynn.

Is there a difference between fantasy and science fiction? Of course there is. One has a background with no logic or rationale, while the other has a background that's all logic and rationale. They still have a lot in common, though, because fantasy has a lot of science in its basis.

I'm putting together a workshop on dragons around the world with Jacquie Rogers for the Emerald City Writers' Conference in October, and the research we've been putting into it has made us think about the science in fantasy. Komodo dragons (better known as Komodo monitors or monitor lizards, I think; I'm typing this far, far away from all my notes) don't have that much in common with the dragons in fantasy, but it's clear how the dragons of fantasy came about. The Komodo lizard is big and it's deadly, and the basis of the fantasy dragon's fiery breath may have as its origin the venom that helps the lizard bring down its prey. (An off-topic useless fact: that giant lizard, according to the Wikipedia entry I just read, can also be found on the island of Flores, where the remains of the "hobbit" skeleton were found in recent years. A giant lizard. A small humanoid skeleton. Gigantism and dwarfism on the same island! Is that fascinating or what! But I digress.)

I should also point out that Yasmine Galenorn's "Smoky" the hot hot hot! dragon has nothing, but nothing in common with the Komodo dragon. Smoky is also a shape-shifter, and again that doesn't have much in common with the lizards of real life -- until you think about it; how many times have you heard about reptiles shedding their skin? In effect, they're changing their shape, aren't they?

I could go on, but I won't. I've got to do a heck of a lot more research, and dragons are a fascinating topic to do it on. The Komodo lizard is a long-lived creature due to its slow metabolism, and they live a very long time, just like the dragons of fantasy. Another fascinating fact!

Fantasy and science fiction. So different and so much in common!

Eilis Flynn's latest book is ECHOES OF PASSION, on sale now from Cerridwen Press. She may be reached via her website at www.eilisflynn.com.


Jeanne Ryan said...

The best explanation of dragons I've found is dinosaur bones. What would you think if you saw these huge bones and didn't know about dinosaurs? That explains why they are so prevalent in folk tales and mythology across the globe.

Fantasy often fills in gaps science hasn't. More than just explain things, it does so in a way that taps into our unconscious. We tend to project our fears and desires more onto fantasy than science.

EilisFlynn said...

The collective unconscious is an amazing thing. I remember reading about atavism when I was a kid (Jungian theory and all that) and was fascinated.