What is science fiction?

in truth, the line between science fiction and fantasy has always been vague.

Although it’s been a relatively short period of time, I can’t exactly recall how I found my niche as the designated ScFriday writer for DragonFlyEye.  I’m a two-time graduate from RIT, which means I naturally have more nerd in my blood than the average blogger, but it was still a step outside of my usual rock ‘n roll/cat love/bathroom gripes box of my personal blog, Blue Eyes & Spitfire.  The metamorphosis of writing for SciFriday has thus far been one of the biggest and best milestones of 2012 for me, not just because it forces me to broaden my writing horizons, but also because it’s made me look at daily life in a very unique way.

As I said to my boyfriend over dinner last night, this is a very interesting time to be alive. Even in my mere 27 years of existence, I’ve seen more technological, medical, and industrial advances than I’m sure my grandparents could have ever imagined possible.  Sure, we don’t have flying cars – yet – but look at all the things we do have that once were only found in science fiction stories. I remember watching old cartoon reruns of The Jetsons as a kid and thinking telephones that allowed you to see the person you were calling would be the coolest thing ever. Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout,  Anyone? Name your device or network of choice, and we can make it happen.

Science fiction, or what was once seen as science fiction, is around us every day; whether it’s my personal choice of birth control, someone’s medical miracle, or claiming the mayorship of your place of employment, it’s everywhere.  Every day I catch myself looking for (and more often than not, finding) the sci-fi twist in my conversations and surroundings. This week, however, I questioned myself.

I found myself in a very interesting and in-depth Twitter conversation regarding ghost stories in Rochester, particularly the Main Street Armory’s haunting history dating back to the first World War. I’ve always been a huge fan of ghost stories but was especially excited for this Roc-Centric story to turn into a SciFriday article. But wait – ghosts are horror, not sci-fi. Right?

This is what got me thinking. What is the determining factor to categorize something as science fiction? As I thought and researched, I found an infinite amount of stories, books, and movies that could easily bounce between sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, depending how you decide to look at them.

Mythological creatures are obviously fantasy, right? Well, no, not necessarily. We’re all familiar with the portrayal of a Cyclops, but Cyclopia can (and has been, albeit rarely) documented in real life, making it a possibility and something that could fall under science fiction. Okay, well what about, say, zombies? Blood, brains, and horror all the way! Sure. But what makes up the foundation for zombie tales? A virus. Something we find new cases of every day. Is it really so far-fetched of an idea that your kooky neighbor could be fiending for your brains someday? Maybe. Maybe not.

Essentially, we live in an amazing time and an amazing world where most anything can be viewed or explained with a science fiction spin – so this is where you help me, DragonFlyEye reader:  what daily occurrence do you want to hear about in a spooky, fantastical, science fictional light? Tell me, and I’ll make it happen!

By Jillian Seaton

Jillian is a recovering sorority girl/cheerleader and an aspiring trophy wife/crazy cat lady who somehow found herself in the magical land of auto dealership marketing and family portraits. Her true passions in life are writing, whiskey, music (especially good ol' rock 'n roll), and cheese. Jillian's life goals include saving the world from cancer and becoming the best astronaut ever.

2 replies on “What is science fiction?”

I've always liked this quote:

"Science fiction deals with improbable possibilities, fantasy with plausible impossibilities."
Miriam Allen de Ford (1888-1975)

To my way of thinking, the most interesting fictional territory is found along the boundary between the two, in the area where technology becomes "indistinguishable from magic." It's a good place for writers and readers to have a lot of fun; it's also a good place to explore the mysterious nature of what we like to think of as reality.

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