I’ve mentioned these thoughts in passing in other posts, but I decided it was time to put them together and see what happens. I have said in the past that science fiction makes explicit the wonder in the physical universe – see here; yes, with an equation too – but perhaps that’s also true of fantasy. Maybe instead of the horrible “speculative fiction”, or the equally awful “strange fiction”, we should use the term “wondrous fiction”. Though I believe Yes beat me to it.
Unfortunately, “wf” is a pretty naff acronym, especially if you use it as one and not an initialism. Would it be “wif” or “wuf”? “I am a wuf writer.” Ugh. Would bad wondrous fiction be known as “wiffy”? Um, and “wifi” has already been taken. Ah well, perhaps not.
However, it strikes me there are two defining loci for science fiction and fantasy. One is wonder, the other is agency. And while wonder identifies both genres, agency differentiates them:-
fantasy – stories in which agency, or power over the natural world, is given by authorial fiat to things, including human beings, which in the real world do not have such agency or power, or do not exist.
science fiction – stories in which agency, or power over the physical universe, is given by human beings – systematically – to things, including human beings, which in the real world do not have such agency or power, or do not exist.
No doubt everyone will now immediately think of exceptions which disprove these definitions. That seems to be the way this sort of thing works…