SF/F Genre Glossary

What is Science Fantasy?

This is a continuation of the Speculative Fiction Genre Glossary Project posts. For the complete genre index click here.

The spiral staircase
The Spiral Staircase by Risachantag

What is Science Fantasy?

  1. Science fiction with supernatural or fantasy elements.
  2. Science fiction that is far enough removed from our current understanding of plausible reality, it reads like fantasy.

Neither definition provides an absolute classification. What qualifies as science fantasy is sometimes debatable. Some science fiction includes supernatural elements such as telepathy, and the latter definition depends on how science fiction and fantasy are defined.

Subgenres of science fantasy: planetary romance, dying earth, and sword and planet.

Further reading:


  1. Now here’s where you get to the real, fuzzy lines between genres. I think of Science Fantasy, basically, as Fantasy (i.e. stories with magic or mythological elements) with Spaceships or Advanced Technology. By which definition, yes, I think Star Wars is Science Fantasy.

    Another way of putting it is Fantasy in Sci Fi drag.

    Either way… I don’t think it’s a knock against stories like these to be classified this way. I like Fantasy. I like Sci Fi. I like it when their love child grows up and writes books or makes movies.

  2. I must say, you’ve picked a fantastic piece of art again, Theresa!

    Hmm… I’m not sure what would be another nice example of science fantasy that I’ve read. Maybe God’s War by Kameron Hurley… I’ve heard that called “cross-genre” before.

    Yeah, she actually said she crosses the two.

    1. Hmm… That’s probably one that belongs on my to-read list…

      I remember being intrigued by the story premise before… but I failed to follow up on it and read any more, so it fell out of my consciousness.

  3. I love this genre. We humans love to put things into nice and neat categories, but everyone’s right – Science Fantasy has been around for a really long time.

    My current WIP is set in a steampunk world, so I guess you could call it Science Fantasy for sure.

  4. I think I’ve heard Hyperion and it’s sequels referred to as Science Fantasy too. I think I’m more interested in the story and the strange unbelievable worlds than the science and therefore, am drawn to this genre.

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