Life Defined

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Speculative Fiction and Some...

Greetings World!

     Here is a quick update regarding SoonerCon 20:
     I had a wonderful time and enjoyed all the artwork, books, costumes, etc... I highly recommend any speculative fans (representing the fantasy, science fiction, or horror genres) to attend. For that matter, I think anyone who fancies the creative arts would have a marvelous time! I not only met various authors and gamers, but was introduced to illustrators Darrell K. Sweet and Peter Bradley. In fact, I took to Mr. Bradley's art immediately! Mr. Sweet's art was as brilliant up close as I'd seen on numerous novels, but I was very impressed with Bradley's style - particularly of his elven characters. A gallery of some of his work can be found here:

   Now for my randomness:
   This eve, I have been playing an old computer game, Might and Magic IX. The graphics are outdated, but the gameplay is one to be admired. For those of you unfamiliar with said game, Might and Magic is an RPG (role-playing game) from the makers at 3DO (a company no longer in existence... unfortunately). As a result, there have been no patches to take care of little in-game 'issues' that pop up here and there. It just so happens that I ran into one such 'bug' tonight... But that is not what I have come to blog about! My point in even bringing up Might and Magic - or, indeed, any role-playing games in general - is to comment on the connection between RPGs and the fantasy/science fiction worlds. I just find it interesting how many of the same themes or archetypes may be found in each: such as a main quest/story line, a hero, and a common villain. Granted, the details differ between works, but overall, the concept is almost interchangeable. As an author and gamer, I am curious as to how many writers of the fantasy/science fiction genre also take on RPG storylines - or note the similarities. For there are so many categories and subgenres; yet they all seem to intermingle in some way! My favorite RPG of all time (so far) would have to be EarthDawn. This website contains some relevant information for those who are interested: As far as MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), my favotire is GuildWars.
     Forgive me if I tend to roam a bit on the subject, but I also stopped to consider the role of women in such writing. For the first speculative novel (science fiction, in this case), was credited to Mary Shelley, whose work is the popular tale, Frankenstein. What is the difference between fantasy and sci-fi, you may ask? Well, here's how I determine the separation: Fantasy tends to deal more with the magical/fantastical elements of a particular world, in which the impossible takes place. There seems to be a medieval underpinning with kings, peasants, knights, etc... Science fiction, on the other hand, mainly tends to dwell with more "rational" explanations of things - instances that do not involve magic, but instead define a world with technological or scientific reasonings. (As a basic comparison, I look at The Lord of the Rings versus Star Wars: a world of wizards and kings against a galaxy of saber swords and spacecraft).

    While doing some of my own exploring on the subject matter, I ran into a blog at with (I thought) quite humorous portraits of fantasy and science fiction intertwined. Taken together, some of the elements that differentiate between the two genres are quite clear (and some are just neat to observe). I'll add some of them below for your convenience. Enjoy:

Quote for the day:

      “Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”
---Lewis Carroll

Until next time!



  1. Rachel, your blog has reminded me how many grey hairs I have. Seeing as how I played Might and Magic I (the Original), and the majority of the rest of the series. It is a bit difficult when someone calls the 9th of the series 'old'. None the less, and all 'aged' banter aside, I have always enjoyed the story line of a great gaming series. To me, the participation in a story (whether through board games, paper and dice, or computer) is one thing that continues to entrance me. Richard Garrett and the Ultima series to this day continues to be one of my favorites just due to the depth of the languages that were created, the cultures, etc. This is one thing that I find quite difficult to find in more 'modern times'. The Fable series, of which I just recently finished number 3, has an interesting plot and a variety of things and actions to do... however I find them so short. I remember playing 'old' games for months on end. These games I finish in a couple of days. On one hand, I never complain about a good story, no matter how quick I finish it (books included). However, the depth of games that I have played in the past just seem so much more.

    But I digress, I prefer the same sort of things in the books I read. If I can feel a part of the novel, then I like it that much more. Granted, this is much more difficult than some sort of role playing game, because I can't change the words of a writer to better fit my story (I always cheated at Choose your own Adventure books anyways). However, the same depth that I enjoyed in the games, like the various languages in the Ultima series comparatively to the secret finger language that Silk spoke in the Belgariad series. Similarly, one other thing that I enjoyed was the details of people and the houses in the series 'A song of fire and ice'. These sorts of things help me to connect much more.

    I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with all this, but you are force, I think, to read it regardless. Hence is the duty of the public blogger. I'll leave you with this one thought regarding the blending of sci-fi and fantasy. The series that always comes to mind for me is The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman. A colony ship that was forced to leave Earth lands on a planet that's environment (to not give a spoiler) hinders the ability of machines to work. This then returns many of the occupants back into a medieval style lifestyle lacking many modern technologies. I'd be happy to discuss the blending of tech and fantasy with this series more if you're interested, I always find it unique when someone pulls it off well.

  2. Ok, call me a purist, but I like my sci fi and fantasy fi very separate...sort of like the church and state. Well, except for Star Wars, The Dragon Riders of Pern, The Majipoor series, and about a dozen others I could mention. Ok, purist? Perhaps not. Join them if you must...just leave the church out of my state, vice-versa.

  3. Sam,

    Thanks for posting! As for "Might and Magic" being 'old,' I meant not in years (as that would put my own age into question), but rather in the outdated graphics and difficulty in even running the system on current operating systems. (I don't know about everyone else, but my computer put up a nasty fight trying to get the game to even load). But I must agree with you when you mentioned the shortened gameplay for recent gaming titles. The Fable series, in my opinion, had a great story to fall upon, but the quests/storyline was indeed quite short. I think Morrowind did a great job in that way, as it focused on an extensive RPG system with a world that seemed almost endless in boundaries! Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the relative "quickness" of most of the newer games had to do with the high-quality graphics and extra effects added to the systems. It seems as if adding anything more would only wreak havoc on the game itself! :) It kind of brings up the whole gaming debate: graphics versus gameplay. Which do you prefer?
    I must admit, I have yet to read Friedman's work. But by all means, enlighten us with your reading on the topic! Indeed; it sounds fascinating to have fantasy and science fiction incorporated together in such a way. I would be delighted to hear more.

    Thank you for your input, Sam. 'Tis a pleasure, as always~


  4. My short jaunt to the States has slowed my ability to reply! Whilst being most excited at being able to see the majority of the Hunters, I was quite disappointed that we were not able to see you. Regardless, this is further motivation for an up and coming writer to visit Europe to expand her intellectual and cultural palate to enhance her writing! How’s that for a pitch?
    As for gaming in general, I’ve never been overly drawn to great graphics. A recent ‘sandbox’ style game (that honestly has little to no plot) called Terraria was released recently after just 4 months of development time. The graphics look much like some of the early final fantasy battle characters (2 dimensional pixel people). However, the game has much to offer and allows people to build their own houses, and structures, explore dungeons and jungles, etc. The gameplay is clearly what has won over in this case, since in just 1 months’ time, the game has already sold over 400,000 copies (at a reasonable 10 dollars a pop! That’s a quick $4 million if you’re counting). I concur with your judgment on the Morrowind series, however. Any game that you are paying less than $1 per hour of gameplay, is good in my book. Regardless of how snazzy it looks.
    This has inspired Marcus and I to look back into game development before all of my ‘free time’ disappears once again. Perhaps when we get things going we might be in the hunt for a good author to help develop some of the storyline…
    As for the Friedman series, I think to say too much more would just ruin the fun of reading it. My wife likes to read the last page of a book before she gets there, just to make sure things work out alright. This is much to my dismay, because it seems a bit like cheating. However, I think the successful blending of sci-fi and fantasy can only be done when both hold merit in a society. The Coldfire trilogy really doesn’t use the sci-fi aspects much at all, and perhaps that is why it works. It’s spin is to place a large enough hindrance on it that allows other aspects of society to flourish. I can think of some older series (mostly that I know because of games) like Buck Rogers and Shadowrun that put technological capabilities on par with magic and fantasy. The key with both of those is that one thing does not overshadow the other (i.e. guns don’t make magic missile useless).

    - Samuel


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