[Republished as a post by permission of the author.]
By Camestros Felapton: Materials classified as either fantasy or SF. A handy list so you can keep your novel from wandering off into the wrong genre.
wood = fantasy
metal = both
iron = fantasy
wrought iron = steam punk
steel = both
stainless steel = SF
damascus steel = historical fantasy
aluminium = SF
gold = fantasy
silver = fantasy
platinum = cyberpunk
chrome = cyberpunk
lead = steam punk
copper = fantasy and steampunk
brass = steampunk
bronze = fantasy
tin = historical romance set in Cornwall
adamantium = high fantasy or superhero
plastic = SF
glass = both
any substance with “synth” in its name = SF
any substance with “elvish” or “dwarvish” in its name = fantasy
ale (without modifier) = fantasy
ale (with modifier of alien species) = SF
beer = both
wine = fantasy
vodka (unless overtly in an Eastern European setting) = cyberpunk
gin = steam punk
leather = fantasy (but see note for “synth” above)
fur = fantasy
gutta-percha = steam punk
silicon = cyberpunk (unless modified by “based life form” in which case SF)
sulphur = horror
phosphorus = both
carbon = punk (cyber or steam)
hydrogen (in atmosphere) = SF
hydrogen (inside a blimp) = steampunk
helium = see hydrogen
all other named elements not already mentioned above = SF
rock = fantasy
mineral = SF
lava = fantasy
magma = SF
granite = fantasy
limestone = some sort of historical novel set in England about a misunderstood young person finding their way in the world
sandstone = steam punk
coal = why are you even asking? Steam punk obviously.
shale = none, shale is not allowed in any genre
slate = fantasy or steam punk
marble = both
latex = cyber punk
spandex = ironic parodies of superheroes
wool = fantasy or dystopian YA
linen = fantasy
cotton = steam punk
silk = both and/or silkpunk
flax = fantasy
methane (in general) = SF
marsh gas = fantasy
natural or manufactured gas = steam punk
farts = fantasy
biogas = post-apoclayptic
This was a good use of my time.
tavern = fantasy
snow = fantasy
(I’ll see myself out)
A thorough and much needed primer on this important subject.
I would note that a wider range of metals are acceptable in fantasy when specifically referring to armour, including platinum. Also, while users are encouraged to experiment with fictional metals in their high fantasy/sword and sorcery settings, beginners would do well to stick to “elements” with “y” vowels as much as possible: mythril, valyrian steel etc. (Presence of y in original spelling is optional). Adamantium and other -ums risk confusion among more traditional readers and chronic Breakfast Regret sufferers.
Also, be careful with water states. Steam is straightforwardly steampunk, of course. Liquid water is fantasy when clean, or near future dystopian SF when polluted and/or commodified. Ice and snow are fantasy unless it has been made very clear to the reader that an entire non-earth planet is covered in it. Nobody really needs to drink in the future unless it’s alien ale, anyway.
*removes tongue from cheek* 🙂
I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve had wine in my space opera. Coincidentally, in Star Trek TNG Picard’s brother runs a vineyard.
I wish to subscribe to the silkpunk newsletter. Would this be a utopian post apocalyptic fantasy set in China?
Seriously, that was hilarious. Thank you.
My nearly lifelong problem telling fantasy from science fiction absent big markers like elves and paragraphs long descriptions of spaceships has now been solved. My gratitude is great.
tavern = fantasy
snow = fantasy
But that’s because Camestros didn’t include combinations, e.g.,
tavern + snow = SF
gold + chrome = space opera
beer + wine = hangover
Where do mixed drinks fit in?
Punctuation in names:
Apostrophe – fantasy
Colon – science fiction
@ – Cyberpunk
! – horror
(tm) – corporate dystopia
shale – YA dystopia – what do you think the arena is floored with?
shale – steampunk – what do you think that the spool heaps looming over the town are made of?
diamond (natural) – fantasy
diamond (artificial) – SF
All elements not found in the Periodic Table = SF
T, K, Z, J, U, M = SF
H, B, R, Q, A, Y = Fantasy
L, F, O, D, N, G = both
W, V = steampunk
X = cyberpunk
C = piratepunk
S = pluralpunk
I = first person YA romance
E = lit fic (avoid if possibl)
This is brilliant, augmented by the amazing illustrations.
It should be a chapbook.
With additions from the others, particularly Arifel. Although I’d say Q could be a letter in either.
Tea, of course, is ALL.
I think elements in the periodic table above uranium can be SF since you have to have a technological society to create them.
@Darren: Ken Liu has a silkpunk fantasy series going.
Needs more stuff: Is “The Stone Sky” SF or Fantasy?
Is “The Stone Sky” SF or Fantasy?
Air, clean, windy, fresh = Fantasy
Air, hot, dusty = dystopian SF
Air, travel = Steampunk
Water (see Arifel above)
Earth, black, fertile = Fantasy
Earth, planet = SF
Fire, cozy, with food = Fantasy
Fire, s’mores with officers = Star Trek
Fire, lasers = MilSF
Fifth Element = Space Fantasy with Opera
Still doesn’t help with The Stone Sky.
Oil shale: near-future SF, late-stage steampunk, or dystopian stuff from The Before Times.
Most metals ending in -ium are SF:-
plutonium – SF
unobtainium – SF
impervium – SF
epithalamium the sea beast’s dower – SF
impluvium – Roman historical
Arsenic and mercury are definitely fantasy, but they kind of prove the point, having been known to the ancients. I feel like magnesium is tech-ish steampunk.
Trying to decide if there are gemstones that are SF.
Lace, when they’re semi-precious, arranged in a helix…?
@Cassy B: good one! Also, IIRC there are several gemstones that can be very useful in lasers — and the hardest known substance (diamond, unless it’s been recently displaced) seems to me to belong to SF rather than fantasy.
ether: Medical horror
@Lace: All synthetic gemstones (as seen above) are SF. Gemstones involving transuranic or made-up elements are SF. Tritinite is SF.
I would have thought “R” was piratepunk..
R is definitely piratepunk. However, piratepunk has only half the usual I.
Fire, cozy, with bearskin rug in front: romance.
(and I meant trinitite above, of course)
I (finally) saw what you did there….
Chip Hitchcock on August 18, 2017 at 8:37 am said:
I worked one year at a place that built microwave delay lines – some of which used natural quartz crystals of a fairly large size. (Most of the stuff I worked on used grown quartz or sapphire.) And there was the acousto-optic device that had a largish (and very pretty) germanium crystal in it. (Laser went through one way; microwave signal went through the other and modulated the laser beam.)
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