On the web I see the forums with many people talking about the difference between fantasy and science fiction. And apart from horror. They launch into Star Wars plot analysis to show that if something is not credible, or if the special effects “betray” themselves because of the era it would be fantasy. Credibility has nothing to do: the pact with the viewer is that we must believe.
The difference is actually very clear: fantasy and fantasy are an invention separated from the world; science fiction is an invention that has links with our way. The difference is all here. In fantasy we could have a past with orcs and sea monsters and we have never seen them in our country. In science fiction all that is supernatural is linked to our reality with a ‘logical’ explanation: if there is a monster, it comes from another planet discovered with our spaceships, if there is an epidemic it is explained where it has originated. It is true in The Hobbit that the origin of the dwarves is explained, but their origin in their own right to their world, not their origin from our world.
In fact, science fiction is often set in the future as dystopia or utopia (or ucronia) and fantasy in the past. It may happen that a science fiction film has fantasy elements like Dunes by David Lynch or a book for kids like Artemis Foul combines almost fifty percent fantasy elements like elves and science fiction like technology. Both fantasy and science fiction, however, usually amaze or slightly disturb, but it is difficult to frighten them by making their legs tremble, or scream.
The horror discourse is a different matter where fear prevails, if horror is done well, fear; then the horror film could in turn be fantasy or science fiction.
In reality things, according to a somewhat more complex thesis, would be different if we consider Frankestein coming to say that there is actually no distinction between fantasy and science fiction.
In fact Frankestein is a monster but his connection with our world is explained through Frankestein’s experiment (yes, Frankenstein is incredible, in reality it is the name of the doctor while the monster has no name, anyway …) so it is science fiction even if the Frankestein’s experiment is obviously not scientific, but imaginative, of course it has its origin and setting in our world with real people initially human. Mind incepction? For the Hobbits, on the other hand, it would not make sense for the writer to explain why they exist.
However, not only Frankestein, putting aside the details, is science fiction, but the term science-fiction (science fiction) comes from the nineteenth-century writer of Frankestein, Mary Shelley.
If you want to find out who is the father of science fiction cinema and where the term comes from click here.