Monday, February 07, 2011

Are Fantasy Readers Dumber

This is a comment on a thread that I made at A Dribble of Ink on the question of "are fantasy readers dumber than SF readers?"   

I wouldn’t say that the readers are dumber. They enjoy different types of stories. The fact that there is a lot of overlap in the fandom, shows that the stories are not too dissimilar. I perceive that a majority of SF readers also read fantasy, but that the percentage of fantasy readers that cross over into SF is significantly lower. I won’t say that one story focuses on story, characters, or world building more than the other because I can come up with titles that are for and against for both genres. I will say that good SF does seem to be more about an overreaching idea than most fantasy I have read.

I tend to enjoy science fiction more. I also tend to learn more from reading science fiction. Some science fiction builds from current minor discoveries and builds on them. I think that SF would be more of an academic read for that reason. Anyone that has read a Neal Stephenson novel can attest to the pages upon pages that he goes through discussing the science or math that he is using as a plot point. It can be sometimes off putting to me as well. I am not saying that fantasy is not academic and can’t be learned from, but, in my reading experience, science fiction tends to do this a lot more.

In defense of Ender’s Game; I believe OSC has gone on record about the ansible and FTL stating that he didn’t have the science and didn’t want to explain them with bad science. As they were needed to move the plot along and not put in as a Deus Ex Machina at the very end, this is excusable to me. Ender’s Game was all about the idea of the Battle School.

Someone mentioned WoT. I hope that no other writer tries to write so many characters into a series ever again. That is complex in a bad way. It has almost turned me off of serials.


Pat Tillett said...

I guess it's just a matter of taste! Some people like country and some like rock and roll. Some people like both! Or is that a fantasy?

Nick said...

I like both and I don't think you can really generalize like that without a proper study. I'd say it is fairly reasonable to assume Sci-fi fans are more likely to be fans of science itself than fantasy fans who don't like sci fi. Not sure what that predicts about the intelligence or perhaps the kind of intelligence.

Budd said...

I will agree that writing and enjoying both requires a great deal of imagination and creativity.