Discussing and debating Star Wars is always a dangerous thing. The last time I leaned in on controversy surrounding George Lucas’ epic universe was a few years ago, when I suggested in a blog that Disney may end up ruining the franchise. The result was one step away from an angry mob. It is with a slight sense of trepidation then, that I’ve decided to wade back into the murky waters of this classic movie saga to attempt to answer a question that has plagued the minds of many: Is Star Wars fantasy or Science Fiction?
You might think it’s an easy question to answer.
I mean, Star Wars is a space opera, set in a galaxy far, far away. It’s wrapped in crazy futuristic technology, otherworldly machinery and artificial intelligence that takes things to a whole new level.
Surely it is Sci-Fi? Well, there is doubt.
Is Star Wars Fantasy or Sci-Fi: Where Does This Argument Come From?
There are a few reasons for putting forward the case that Star Wars is fantasy and not actually Sci-Fi. These include:
Mythology: The Star Wars saga is surrounded by a deep mythos of ancient cultures and religious orders, not dissimilar to those that populate many modern fantasies.
Broken Science: The science of Star Wars is flawed in many respects. We’ve seen bombs drop, and spaceships fall, in the vacuum of space. We hear noise in the vacuum of space, too, and let’s not get started on the science behind ecosystems and the impossibility of some of the worlds featured in this universe.
Magic: Like it or not, Midichlorians are canon, and the force is nothing short of magic. However you spin it, these films use magical elements, a popular fantasy trope.
These points, and more besides, have led many to state that Star Wars isn’t science-fiction. Instead, so they claim, it is a fantasy set in space.
Science fiction, they argue, is about science and technology that has developed in a realistic way. The science of Star Wars is unexplained and impossible to actually make a reality. It doesn’t work in the context of our universe, therefore it’s fantasy not Sci-Fi, but are they right?
Fantasy vs Science Fiction
Both classified as genre fiction, under the subset of speculative fiction, fantasy and sci-fi are often lumped together, but in truth they are quite different when clearly defined. Below are the two definitions as given by our old pal, Wikipedia:
Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama.
Defining Science Fiction
Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrials in fiction.
Is Star Wars Fantasy or Science Fiction? Final Verdict
Star Wars uses fantastical elements like magic, legends and unexplained universal laws to create drama, while also exploring the development of technology, space travel and alien worlds, as is defined in the context of science fiction.
It is neither wholly science fiction, nor wholly fantasy, but instead a blending of the two. This is not dissimilar to other major franchises, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Avatar. Amalgamating different genres of fiction to tell stories is common practice, and it’s no bad thing.
Star Wars does not have to be one or the other. It does not have to be a fantasy or a science fiction, just as you can have a mystery novel that is also a horror, or a romance movie that features comedy. Keeping in theme with this blog and website, it’s also worth noting new fantasy books are rarely just fantasy these days, they often include different genres.
So there is your answer. I’m sure it will be about as definitive for some as Boba Fett’s death scene, but in the context of their very definition, when asking if Star Wars is fantasy or science fiction, you can confidently argue that it’s both.
Looking for something that definitely isn’t Sci-Fi? You can read fantasy short stories right here on The Azrian Portal, all of which are guaranteed to satisfy a thirst for fantasy fiction without ever having you worry you might be getting a splash of science fiction, too..