We recently heard a great phrase: more fi than sci. It was used to describe a book that was set in the future. The story explored an idea sparked by a new piece of technology, imagining the ways it might develop in the future. Of course, reality might have gone differently, but the book was definitely imagining a future that could happen due to that technology.
Without a plot completely grounded in scientific theory or ideas, and certainly featuring a healthy dose of imagination, was it science fiction, or science fantasy?
Did you know that invisibility cloaks are nearly a reality? Oh yes, Harry Potter shows us the way! This article has a list of amazing inventions and discoveries that are bringing us closer every day to things we never dreamed we’d do. That’s one of the tricky things about science fiction: technology moves faster all the time, and sometimes so fast that it can outstrip your premise while you’re still revising your novel!
Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of the fathers of modern science fiction, said that ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’.
That’s where we reach the intersection of science and imagination. If we can’t predict where science might go, then we can start with a kernel—and do our research to ensure we don’t break any laws of science—and then imagine how that science might develop. If invisibility cloaks are on the way, what else can we imagine?
In These Broken Stars, we played with a lot of science around space and intergalactic travel (but we can’t tell you more without spoiling some twists), and once we’d done our research, we imagined!
Science fiction or science fantasy? In the end, we say what works best for storytellers is combining science with imagination, and you can call that anything you like.