Firstly let’s start off with a few definitions:
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.(courtesy of Wikipedia).
The above definition can also be subdivided into numerous categories all of which can themselves be divided into sub-subcategories and so on ad infinitum.
I love SciFi mostly because there are no limits, it’s basically anything you can think of. From the hard SciFi of the colonisation of Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson to the rip-roaring Space Operas of Peter F Hamilton, with everything in between and beyond.
SciFi doesn’t have to limited by the here and now or even the place (or space) and time. Let your imagination run wild.
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. (courtesy of Wikipedia again….who said I was lazy?!!)
Fantasy for me is so much more limited, if not just by the great works that have come before it. When you have something so perfect and as far-reaching as The Lord of the Rings, it’s understandable that other works would be compared to it.
There are some great fantasy books out there that do break the mould though; George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Stephen Donaldson’s The Thomas Covenant Chronicles.
Some think that SciFi and Fantasy will never be recognised as “serious” writing but that doesn’t do justice to great writers like Alfred Bester (who wrote the best ever SciFi novel: The Stars My Destination), John Wyndham, Ursula K. Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm and many more.
If you haven’t tried either genre I would recommend The Day of the Triffids for SciFi and The Lord of the Rings for Fantasy.