Fantasy is a dream of escape from the current situation. It usually involves satisfaction of the human desires: lust, freedom, power, acceptance, love, happiness, understanding.

It becomes more and more common the less the world resembles anything we evolved for.

The draw of fantasy is the simple, understandable worldview it offers people who feel confused by the modern world.

A genre of writing and media (including novels, short stories, movies and television shows) in which fantastic things happen. Fantasy is often lumped together with science fiction and many science fiction authors are also fantasy authors and vice versa. The key difference is that science fiction stories are usually based at least somewhat on a scientific premise (though the basis may be very loose) or a futuristic setting, whereas fantasy tends to be based on magical or mythical premeses, often (but not always) derived from folklore.

fantasy (verb, to fantasize): in imagination, a series of mental representations connected by a story line or dramatic plot that may possibly be translated into actuality. Imagery in the mind that is fictive rather than perceptual, and that tells a story in either pictures or words. A fantasy, like a dream, may be a program of expectations for the future, or a replay of past happenings, or a combination of both. See also copulation fantasy;masturbation fantasy.

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index

What do the words Science Fiction mean to you? Most people tend to think of high-technology, spaceships, the future, aliens, and bad movies, or similar ideas. What about Fantasy? Oh, those are just stories about magic, dragons, and elves. There aren’t a whole lot of similarities are there? Yet the two genres of fiction are always lumped together in bookstores or libraries, and many fans of one are also fans of the other. Clearly they must have something in common.

Now, some of you are probably already taking exception to the (very rough) definitions I gave above, which is precisely the point I’m getting to. The traditional, accepted definitions of Science Fiction and Fantasy are flawed in my opinion, in that they focus almost exclusively on the setting of the stories, and not the stories themselves. This is a mistake in my opinion, as the setting, while important, is not more valuable than the story set in it, in that the setting can be changed, while the story remains the same.

The Star Wars stories, for example, are some of the most popular science fiction stories in our society, considered science fiction because they are set on spaceships and alien planets, with laser guns and robots everywhere. But replace the spaceships with sailing vessels, space with the high seas, lightsabers with swords, blasters with crossbows, and the Force with...well, the Force is already magic isn’t it? Even with all these changes, the story would still work, with the Millenium Falcon becoming the the fastest schooner in the world. What about Babylon 5? This would take some more work, as the science is much more realistic and well thought-out, but I think it could still be done. The Vorlons and Shadows would become ancient races of wizards, the Minbari are obviously Elves. The Narns seem rather dwarf-like in spite of their size, while the Centauri would just be another human culture. And besides, how could any story that has Rangers not be a potential Fantasy tale?

Going the other way, from Fantasy to Science Fiction, Into The Darkness and its sequels, written by Harry Turtldove are the tale of a war on a world where Dragon Riders drop explosive “eggs” on enemies, soldiers fire magical “sticks” at their enemies and ride great armor-plated Behemoths with even bigger “sticks” strapped to them. Dragons? Magic? Must be fantasy. Change the dragons to airplanes, however, the sticks to rifles and cannons, and the Behemoths to Tanks, and do you still have a believable story? Well, as much as I'd like to pretend World War Two didn't happen, that’s what the books were based on.

And lets not even get into the magic of the Dune series, the Dragons of Pern, or the Spelljammers of D&D fantasy, or any of the many genre-bending concepts out there, My head hurts enough as is.

Earth or not earth, technology or magic, elves or aliens. To me all of these differences seem largely cosmetic, dressing up the basic story, and while one type may look better on a particular story than the other, they are not something that the story should be categorized by.

Another difference between the two that I have heard is that Science Fiction stories are about the toys and the environment, while Fantasy stories are about the characters that use those toys and operate within that environment. To quote the friend who suggested this “in a moment of crisis, is your hero going to save the day through a tech advance, or through the innate ability of someone, whether himself or someone else or by using an enemy's weakness against him? that's kind of what differentiates the two for me. In sci-fi, more often than not they come up with some tool or some environment quirk, and that's what moves the story. Fantasy takes away the toys, usually, and the characters have to carry the story.” While I certainly think this is a good way to categorize stories, I’m not so sure if the terms Science Fiction and Fantasy are the best for describing the two categories, as “Science Fiction” as a label has a disctinctly technological flavour to it, and its entirely possible to have a story in which a magical toy makes all the difference, and I don’t like calling that Science Fiction. I’ll get back to this point later.

A theory I’ve had on separating the two types, which seems to put most stories under their accepted labels, is that Science fiction is about triumphs of the mind, while Fantasy is about triumphs of the spirit. Out-thinking your opponent, whether by inventing new technology, or just outsmarting them, would be a Science Fiction idea under this theory, while defeating them through sheer force of will, whether fighting on against unbelievable odds or resisting temptation would fall into the realm of Fantasy. I don’t much like this theory anymore, partly due to the stigmas attached to the labels, and partly because so many stories use a combination of the two.

Partly because I’ve given up on trying to find an accurate way to distinguish between the two, and partly because they seem to blend together no matter what definition is used, I suggest that we give up altogether on thinking of Science Fiction and Fantasy as two different genres. Instead we could have one genre, with each story further classified based on the focus of the story. Possible classifications include: Technological, Magical, Character Driven, Speculative, or any other descriptive words needed, with the author/publisher choosing how they want to classify the book. Even the Technological and Magical classifications may be unnecessary - as Arthur C. Clarke argued, sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Besides, the two are often interchangable, with only cosmetic differences (but there are also people who like/dislike stories based on these differences – they only like stories with spaceships, hate any story with magic, or maybe they prefer stories with elves and dragons. To these people, who seemingly have little desire to look even slightly below the surface of the stories they’re reading, have only one thing to say: BAH!) What else could be used? (ideas are welcome).

One big problem with this idea is what to call the unified genre. I have an idea, but it is almost guaranteed to be unacceptable to as many as find it acceptable: Fantasy. Now, all you die-hard Science Fiction readers, hear me out. The Oxford English Dictionary defines fantasy as:

  • The faculty of inventing images
  • A fanciful mental image; a daydream
  • A whimsical speculation
  • A fantastic invention or composition

No matter what you classify as Science Fiction or Fantasy, I think any of the stories could easily fit within this definition, especially under the first and last points. There is a very deep connection between all stories that have been termed as Science Fiction or Fantasy, and that’s the authors desire to take something that may otherwise never exist outside of his imagination, and share it with the imaginations of others.

This is far from a complete idea, merely the beginnings. I would welcome any feedback / suggestions / differing opinions, and especially more suggestions for classifications within the unified genre.

The literary genre of fantasy, along with science fiction and horror, can itself be put under the larger genre umbrella of speculative fiction. Thus, the definitions in this writeup should be considered roughly descriptive rather than prescriptive. There's a lot of genre crossover in some of my favorite speculative fiction (for instance, Brown Girl in the Ring, which has been alternately classified as SF, fantasy, or horror, depending on the eye of the beholding reviewer), and the best writers don't confine their work to little genre boxes.

However, in general, fantasy stories take place in a reality in which magic and/or supernatural or mythical beings exist. Elves, dragons, and unicorns are of course what many people think of when one mentions fantasy. However, the possibilites go much farther than this; look at any of the works of Neil Gaiman. Tim Powers' modern-day novels of ghosts and Las Vegas Tarot games are also fantasy, as is (in my opinion) Hopkinson's aforementioned tale of a young voodoo priestess in a futuristic Toronto.

But the genre distinction is about more than the trappings of myth or the fantastic. Part of it is about how the speculative fiction elements are handled.

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, "Any science or technology which is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic." And some stories, most notably in space operas and science fantasies, do treat high technology as a type of "it's-just-there-and-it-works" magic; the focus of the tale is on the characters and their adventures, and science is never discussed. Conversely, some fantasies treat magic as an exacting technology; Michael Swanwick's science fiction often incorporates mythical elements, as does the work of some cyberpunk-era writers. So, the appearance of a god or a fairy in a story does not automatically make it fantasy; nor does staging an epic quest aboard space ships make for "true" science fiction.

Having said all that, fantasy literature has many sub-genres that characterize certain types of stories. The following are the classifications most widely recognized in the publishing industry.

Fantasy was an old arcade game released by Rock-Ola way back in 1981.

The story

Rock-Ola was a jukebox manufacturer, they had been for years, and I am fairly sure they are still cranking them out today. I even have a Rock-Ola model 446 sitting in my living room (albeit a very dead, completely non-functional Rock-Ola 446). In 1981 arcade games were the hottest thing to hit the coin op market since the coin mech itself. Jukebox sales were down, and Rock-Ola decided to start making arcade games just to stay competitive.

Unfortunately they weren't willing to put out the cash to license the big name Japanese titles, and they simply didn't have the programming staff to create good titles of their own. So most of their games ended up being pretty darn bad (with the notable exception of Nibbler). This particular title was licensed from SNK which would have been the arcade equivalent of Hyundai at the time.

The game

In Fantasy you are supposed to rescue your girlfriend from pirates. Now this is a fairly time honored concept that most gamers understand. I have found that the "Big Bad" in most games (and many novels) is motivated by lust for the hero's girlfriend. Poor Princess Toadstool has probably never gone more than a week without getting kidnapped, but Cheri from Fantasy wasn't nearly as inspiring and thus this is the only time she is ever kidnapped.

The game actually begins on Fantasy Island. Now I know you will probably be expecting to see Tattoo saying "De plane, De plane!!", but you will have no such luck. Instead you are greeted with a pirate ship that kidnaps Cheri and takes off with her.

So you must chase after her. Now I would personally take a hot air balloon if I had to chase a pirate ship. Apparently our hero feels the same way, and the first sequence is a terribly bad rip off of Lunar Lander where you have to land your balloon on the pirate ship. I ran out of men trying to pass this sequence, and so will you.

If you actually succeed at landing on the ship then you get to fight some pirates, and then watch your girlfriend get kidnapped by a giant bird. After that comes more balloon flying (where you must avoid flying birds and coconuts thrown by a Donkey Kong clone. If you somehow make it past that, then the game has rip offs of Kangaroo, Jungle King, and a bland shooter remniscent of King and Balloon to greet you (along with another unbelievable kidnap).

This game is Gorf gone wrong. They just ripped random bits out of other games and tossed them together. It almost worked when Gorf did it, but this is just a mess. Avoid at all costs.

The Machine

The only saving grace of this game was that it came in the fairly attractive, and fairly generic Rock-Ola cabinet. This is actually one of my favorite classic cabinets.

The marquee to this title shows a monkey giving two thumbs up, along with a couple of hot air balloons. SNK really had a thing for hot air balloons, as they were featured in a lot of their early games.

The monitor bezel and control panel overlay just had some generic green graphics, the same ones used for all Rock-Ola titles.

This title used a blazing fast m6502 processor clocked at one megahertz.

Where to play

You can play the original arcade version using the MAME emulator, but you won't want to, go play Robotron 2084 instead.

This game is not fun and I can't really recommend this one for adding to your arcade game collection. The gameplay quickly becomes is downright stupid, and you would probably find that your spanking new Fantasy machine would quickly begin collecting dust. Of course I would buy one if it was like $50 or something, as terrible games like this tend to be in excellent condition, so it would look good in my living room.

Fan"ta*sy (?), n.; pl. Fantasies (#). [See Fancy.]


Fancy; imagination; especially, a whimsical or fanciful conception; a vagary of the imagination; whim; caprice; humor.

Is not this something more than fantasy ? Shak.

A thousand fantasies Being to throng into my memory. Milton.


Fantastic designs.

Embroidered with fantasies and flourishes of gold thread. Hawthorne.


© Webster 1913.

Fan"ta*sy, v. t.

To have a fancy for; to be pleased with; to like; to fancy.



Which he doth most fantasy. Robynson (More's Utopia).


© Webster 1913.

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