Fantasy--SciFi crossovers: examples that worked for you

There’ve been recent forum threads on how to classify some stories - what genre they fit best. Some are hard to classify because they straddle genres. For example, the ‘weird western’. Here’s @SmokeAndOranges’s poll.

Two that are often grouped together in bookstores, because they often appeal to the same readers, are fantasy and sci-fi. I find that even if I set out to write a fantasy, it ends up with science or science-fiction underpinnings (of the ‘any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science’ sort). Conversely, if I set out to write sci-fi, it ends up sounding a bit fantastical - my way of showing that in any age, a lot of people don’t really understand science and technology; to them, it is indistinguishable from magic.

Some people call the crossovers ‘speculative fiction’, or think of speculative fiction as the uber-category that contains fantasy and sci-fi. Some call it ‘science fantasy’ - but a lot of stories classified as science fantasy or ‘fantasci’ are basically sciency fantasy (A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle is a canonical example).

So, my question: what published examples of fantasy–SF cross-overs did you enjoy, and why? I mean what do you think made the weird mixture work? Especially cool if you’re pretty much a strict fantasy reader, but a particular sci-fi cross-over pulled you along to the end. Bonus points if you can think of a ‘hard sci-fi’ / fantasy cross-over.

Here are three to kick it off:

  • N. K. Jemisin, The Broken Earth trilogy (soft sci-fi or ‘sciency’ fantasy, nominated for both Nebula and World Fantasy awards)
  • Cathrine Fisher, Incarceron (features a massive AI-controlled prison miniaturized to the size of a die and 17th century royal court politics … and a weird angel)
  • Dune, by Frank Herbert, another ‘soft sci-fi’, but many will probably argue it’s more sci-fi than fantasy.
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The original Star Wars Eps 4, 5 6
It was Sci Fi? Fantasy? who cares it was just fun. They represent something that is lost now everything just got to be grey, black and white is just not a thing anymore.

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Sci-fantasy that comes to my mind instantly is Warhammer 40k. Even to this day they’re fleshing out lore, with mixed results. Has a lot of cool and twisted things in it, Ork’s are also there which are just comedy fun all the time. Can see ties to lovecraftian, ideologies, cultural and faith clashes within this vast fiction. No one is “good” or “evil” either just endless conflict which in lore has gone on for 10 thousand years with basically an infinity death-toll.

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Sure - space ships and swords fights, princesses, swashbuckling scoundrels, ray guns, jet-powered horses, mechanical elephants, dark lords and wise wizards. The good guys were good-looking and the bad guys–real ugly. Star Wars had it all.

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I don’t know the Warhammer franchise, but people often mention the Final Fantasy games as a fantasy / sci-fi (or fantasci) crossover game series.

Warhammer 40K. “In the future there is only War”

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Most LeGuin especially “The Left Hand of Darkness,” blend Fantasy and Sci-fi. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s DarkOver books do this. A number of tv series mix elements. I saw a review of “Firefly,” where it was referred to as a “Science Fiction-Western Comedy-Drama” and it definitely has strong elements of fantasy in it. Same with “Agents of Shield” and “Dollhouse.” I’m not a big anime person but the few things I’ve seen, have all had blends of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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I feel like warhammer 40k is a great example of doing things just because its awesome and not worrying about it being grounded in reality too much

I like to describe it as taking both the awesome and silly dials, turning them to ten, then to eleven, then turning them until they break and hit 0 and finally spinning them to 11 again. So on an awesome/silly scale of 1-10, 40k is a 22.

And I love it. That completely over the top nature to everything just works so well and its something I like to pull from at least a little bit.

I’ve seen a few threads relating to sci fi and fantasy that talk forever about making everything grounded and realistic and I think 40k is a perfect example that things can just run on Rule of Cool and be out there and still work

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My favorite science fantasy series or works are Final Fantasy, Chronicles of Riddick, Star Wars, and CyberRealm. I also very much like the imagery of Warhammer 40K, I haven’t found any material to consume of decent quality apart from some cool lore gleaned from my brother’s old rulebook – and I don’t remember much of it.

(Dune is my all time favorite SF novel, but as you said, it lacks the supernatural elements of a proper fantasy).

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I love how Scott Sigler blends sci-fi with fantasy football in the GFL series.

Also, some interesting dips into science-fantasy by Jennifer Foehner Wells, Anne Leckie, Becky Chambers, and Pierce Brown.

I think this genre has a HUGE growth potential. I’d love to see some fresh stuff in it. And also, I write epic science-fantasy!

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Well, my first thought of a scifi-fantasy story (that isn’t Star Wars) is LEGO Bionicle. It was a toyline that promoted robotic heroes who could control the elements and wore special masks of power. To quote YouTube Lavapasta, it was pretty much “Avatar: The Last Airbender meets the Power Rangers” (definitely true on the latter since it has its color-coded heroes). The toyline had a story that went with it and was told in different media with different versions, yet it lasted for about ten years before being cancelled. It is definitely convoluted but I’d say I enjoy it.

-W.S.

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Good examples. LeGuin’s science-fantasy is highly enjoyable long after many good-at-the-time hard SF novels started to feel dated. I wonder if it’s the fantasy elements that add like food additives to extend the shelf-life? But probably it’s just good story-telling and writing.

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So it goes well with Star Wars :slight_smile:
I see there are a lot of Warhammer 40k novels, by many different authors, but comparatively few Final Fantasy novelizations. Does anyone have an opinion on why that is? Maybe Games Workshop is just more open to it than Square Enix? (Not sure what the commercial control structure is for Warhammer 40k)

Know a couple of (then) eight year-olds who loved the Bionicles. And the Power Rangers. One still has a collection of Bionicles.

With Games Workshop I feel like it’s a scheme to sell models :stuck_out_tongue: like maybe the more awesome stories there are the more fans will want to pick up another dose of plastic heroin and see if they can be just as awesome on the table top

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I hope you’re right. Though I think mine are more like fantasy-skinned sci-fi than science fantasy. I suppose they’re written for the reader who, like me, started off with fantasy, then turned to SF, and now likes fantasy that has an underlying scientific rigor, even if it’s not always easy to see.

What brings me back to fantasy (esp. YA fantasy) is that those works are often more character-driven than SF works, and however stimulating and mind-expanding a good SF can be, the best stories are still about people.

From having read a good way through one of yours, I think you agree.

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I’m not sure if it worked (I’m biased), but my debut novel (and the first in a series) is about interdimensional, world-hopping mages.

The first book (The Living God) primarily takes place in a fantasy world, but you get a taste of the other two (a modern earth and a futuristic earth). The second book will take place half on our earth and half in the fantasy world, while the third book will be almost entirely on the futuristic world

The publisher classified The Living God as a YA Fantasy (it should have been classified Adult Fantasy, but the publisher and I disagreed and they decided to go where the money’s at), so I’m curious how I’ll be classifying the rest in the series since it is all over the place.

But, I did that on purpose. I challenged myself to write a book that merged all my favorite concepts into one universe.