So, I was just tinkering with a formula to quantify the relative magic-inhibiting capacities of iron on faery magic (1 horseshoepower = the amount of inhibition produced by a 4 kg wrought-iron horseshoe at a distance of 1 m) when I stopped long enough to check my RSS feeds. Well, what should I find but this observation from i09’s Annalee Newitz: “Science in Fantasy Novels is More Accurate than in Science Fiction.”
Here’s a snippet:
One might argue that good worldbuilding in fantasy always involves hard science. Authors from N.K. Jemisin to George R.R. Martin and Ursula Le Guin have created alternate worlds whose geology, climate, and ecosystems are so good that they’ve captured the imaginations of scientists. These stories represent earnest attempts to create new environments based on what we know from studying the deep history of our own world.
Given what I already pointed out about how magic and advanced technology are basically indistinguishable in science fiction, we’re going to have to admit that there’s something other than magic that divides “fantasy” from “science fiction.” It seems to be the kinds of science the two genres tackle. The hallmarks of rigorous science fantasy are a focus on Earth science, as well as biology and ecosystems. Science fiction, on the other hand, tends to focus on physics, cosmology, and engineering. Both genres often incorporate anthropology and political science.
What do you think? Does she have a point? And, what sorts of scientific accuracy do you enjoy reading in a fantasy novel?