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"Is Star Wars fantasy or science fiction?" Topic

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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 8:27 a.m. PST

To me, there isn't any doubt.
It has:
1. Wizards. You call them Jedi. I say they're wizards.
2. Magic swords. When I saw them bore through steel in Ep 1, I knew that light sabers were magic swords. Intriguingly, the apprentice wizard usually crafts his own.
3. Crucial blood lines.
4. Faster than light speed. Impossible in real life, so magic.
5. Jedi use magic. What else do you call it?

Note I'm not criticizing the actual story. I'm just saying it's fantasy.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 8:30 a.m. PST

6. And of course, The Force.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 8:46 a.m. PST

Science Fantasy? I think spaceships keep it in the realm of Sci Fi, but yes the other bits are definitely Fantasy.

dragon6 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 8:53 a.m. PST

Science Fiction Fantasy of course

Andrew Walters21 Oct 2020 8:59 a.m. PST

It's so important to label things correctly. Is a burrito a sandwich? Is Pluto a planet? Putting things in pigeon holes is so useful that no time debating taxonomy is ever wasted.

That said, bigger picture, science fiction is about examining andcommenting on the human condition and social value by assuming different technologies. Fantasy is about watching personifications of values and virtues battle it out to reinforce values and mores. So Star Wars is clearly tragedy.

1. The Mandalorians and others refer to the Jedi as wizards.

2. When do magic sword cut through steel? The light saber is sort of a wizard's staff.

3. There are crucial bloodlines in Dune. Also fantasy?

4. Transporters are impossible, so Star Trek is fantasy?

5. What else to call it? "The Plot." Replace the word "force" with "plot" and things become clear. From Nick Lowe's "Well Tempered Plot Device:"

I'd only like to point out the way it makes sudden and perfect sense of everything that happens in the film. "The time has come, young man, for you to learn about the Plot." "Darth Vader is a servant of the dark side of the Plot." When Ben Kenobi gets written out, he becomes one with the Plot and can speak inside the hero's head. When a whole planet of good guys gets blown up, Ben senses "a great disturbance in the Plot."

Everyone should read that.

The plot is strong in this one!

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

I call it science fiction, but wouldn't contest anyone saying its Fantasy, or Science Fantasy.

kehanubaal21 Oct 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

I have always thought it isfantasy in space, and, actually, that is the reason hy I loved it when it came out. Then they tried to make it sci-fi, explaining thing that couldn't and shouldn't be explained, like the Force , and that's whenre I think they failed.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 9:15 a.m. PST

Yeah, I know, I'm a major stick-in-the-mud, but SW was always Fantasy to me, and so after the initial trilogy I gave up on the whole amoral mess.

There's nothing in it that enlightens, morally, socially, or scientifically. It is purely bubble gum for the mind, and just like the brilliant trailer parody, "Hardware Wars," it's all about "You'll Laugh! You'll Cry! You'll Kiss Three Bucks Goodbye!" Only it costs a helluva lot more than Three Bucks anymore.

"Hey, you Imperial Storm Troopers! Get off my lawn!"

So There!


DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 9:23 a.m. PST

A Western in Space – for the original film

Some interesting thoughts here on the influences on Lucas perhaps


Brian Smaller21 Oct 2020 9:40 a.m. PST

Modern Star Wars is neither Scifi nor Fantasy. it is Horror.

KeithRK21 Oct 2020 9:41 a.m. PST

Space Opera

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 9:54 a.m. PST

It's fantasy (lightsabers and The Force as analogues to swords and sorcery) dressed in the trappings of science fiction (blasters, space ships and the name "Star Wars") with a dash of western or post-apoc flavor (bounty hunters and arid desert wastelands), all wrapped up in second-rate fatalistic Shakespearean dysfunctional family melodrama.

That just about sums up this overrated franchise in a nutshell I think.

40% fantasy
40% sci-fi
10% western/post-apoc
10% Shakespearean melodrama

Olivero21 Oct 2020 10:16 a.m. PST

To qoute from a well known fantasy book "Look, property is theft, right? Therefore theft is property. Therefore this ship is mine, okay?"

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 10:16 a.m. PST

Point of order: Faster than light travel is not impossible IRL. We know how the Universe allows for it, and we know the Universe has actually done it; we just don't have any way to achieve it ourselves.

Extrabio194721 Oct 2020 10:44 a.m. PST

Our propensity to label everything is only exceeded by Hallmark's ability to create occasions that require a greeting card or two.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 10:44 a.m. PST

Is all science fiction fantasy then? Or is science fiction simply fantasy that takes place in the imagined future rather than the imagined past?

SBminisguy21 Oct 2020 11:02 a.m. PST

No need to wonder what genre Star Wars is, it's Space Opera. It's very much patterned after the Space Opera pulps of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, and other influencers on Lucas when he was a kid.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 11:24 a.m. PST

Is all science fiction fantasy then? Or is science fiction simply fantasy that takes place in the imagined future rather than the imagined past?

Not all sci-fi are dipped in fantasy (or vice versa). Without lightsabers, Jedi Knights and The Force it would be solidly sci-fi.

Our propensity to label everything is only exceeded by Hallmark's ability to create occasions that require a greeting card or two.

It has been said that all plots fall into 7 basic archetypes: link

Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return
Rebirth (or Redemption)

RudyNelson21 Oct 2020 12:00 p.m. PST

To me Science Fantasy and Science Fiction are the same.

Korvessa21 Oct 2020 12:37 p.m. PST

Surprised no on else has brought this up.

It has to be fantasy.
Science Fiction is about predicting or exploring the possible future.

Star Wars happened "a long time ago"

Therefore it is history!

USAFpilot21 Oct 2020 12:50 p.m. PST

I think Arthur C. Clarke called it a space western.

What is sf vs. fantasy seem to blend these days. I think pure sf is not so much about the characters or the plot, but about the scientific idea which is the focus of the story (ie time travel, or invisibility, etc). Therefore most sf on the big screen is really fantasy set in space.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 12:51 p.m. PST

Seconding Space Opera.

… uhm … fiction?

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 1:01 p.m. PST

Sci-Fi Space-Opera to me (as opposed to "Hard Sci-Fi).

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 1:05 p.m. PST

Arthur C. Clarke called it a space western.

Lucas himself admitted as much that SW was inspired by the samurai movies of Kurosawa, which in turn was influenced by the American western.

The Darth Vader helmet was actually modeled after the samurai helm with its more pronounced flare-out, NOT the German stahlhelm.

Han, Lando and other privateers-turned-heroes are western archetypes. So I think I need to revise my breakdowns to give it a little more credit:

35% fantasy
35% sci-fi
20% western
10% Shakespearean tragedy

von Schwartz21 Oct 2020 2:49 p.m. PST


Boiled down to bare bones (should I post this in the NSFW Board?) it's all about the "McGuffin". Or rather the pursuit of the "McGuffin". Whether the McGuffin is a tangible object like a Black falcon statuette, or a goblet used by Christ, or an ideal like truth, honesty, and the American way. It's always about obtaining, or at least pursuing, the McGuffin".

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 2:56 p.m. PST

Space Opera. Very much the child of E. E. Smith in Astounding--or in some ways of Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett or Edmund Hamilton. Mind you, all five of them were better writers than the people cranking out Star Wars movies, but we're discussing type and not quality, and "Space Opera" is the accepted term for this. I don't know so many of you are inventing a new one. And yes, it is the nature of space opera that the plot is often something which has been used or can be used in a non-SF setting.

That said, there is the generalization that "science fiction is a fantasy of political action; heroic fantasy is a fantasy of heritage." One of the things which makes it feel so much like epic fantasy is that the heritage is carefully done and the description of the politics is consistently bungled. Poul Anderson could have done both. But of course Anderson wrote space opera, fantasy and hard SF.

Sargonarhes21 Oct 2020 5:13 p.m. PST

I just call it fantasy and let it go.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 5:32 p.m. PST

"Is Star Wars fantasy or science fiction?"

Yes, it quite clearly is.

It's so important to label things correctly. Is a burrito a sandwich? Is Pluto a planet? Putting things in pigeon holes is so useful that no time debating taxonomy is ever wasted.

I agree entirely with Andrew.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2020 2:44 a.m. PST

Fantasy in space.

I think "science" doesn't have anything to do with it. :)


Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Oct 2020 10:59 a.m. PST

Extrabio1947 for the win.

But Science Fiction is best when it explores possible futures as shaped by current and/or extrapolated technology. It always seems to be about the future, but at its best is really only a mirror to our present.

Great Science Fiction can prepare us for the future, conceivably saving us from the pitfalls of misapplied science/technology.

"Space Opera" is by definition "Fantasy," and as such can only serve as a parable of moral issues--but only if it chooses to be.

"Star Wars" is an amoral mess, which some may say human history is, as well. But it certainly doesn't point the way to anything better.


Baranovich22 Oct 2020 7:54 p.m. PST

Star Wars is space fantasy. 2001 A Space Odyssey is science fiction.

The difference is that space fantasy simply says here is a world that existed once, and it doesn't try to explain how things work or to justify itself. It just presents itself as if it's a world actually was. Space fantasy is as much fairy tale as it is "space stuff."

Science Fiction is more grounded in technology and giving logic and reason to the technology, how things work is very dry and analytical.

Series like Battlestar Galactica kind of ride the line between space fantasy and science fiction, as does Flash Gordon.

Alien also kind of rides a fine line between science fiction and space fantasy.

But movies like 2001 and 2010 are definitely science fiction.

Of course none of these are 100% absolutes, there's gray areas in all of them to be sure.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2020 8:16 p.m. PST


dragon6 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 12:12 p.m. PST

Leigh Brackett ‘cranked out' the Empire Strikes Back but she died and… forgot his name… got the credit for it

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2020 10:42 p.m. PST

Seems like science fantasy to me.

hollyhocks28 Oct 2020 2:22 p.m. PST

Overall; "Space Eastern" (where the focus is on the Jedi etc) ….as opposed to"Space Western" (which it sometimes is – like with 'The Mandalorian')

AKA Space Samurai (though from a very western viewpoint?!)

…that hasn't helped at all, has it?!!!

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