It took writing and publishing a science fiction novel to learn that I am not really up to the task of writing what I consider to be genuine science fiction. Although Tolkein was my introduction to the SF/F genre – I began by reading the first ten pages of The Two Towers on an overnight trip – I quickly became a fan of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, devouring pretty much everything they published. While my first attempt at a novel and my first attempt at a game design were both fantasy, my first successful attempt in both the novel and game markets turned out to be science fiction. I rapidly abandoned that setting, though, for one very simple reason. Genuine and scientifically consistent science fiction is really hard.
It was Pat Wrede who convinced me, most likely unintentionally, that if I didn’t want to spend nearly as much time researching and rewriting things in order to get the science right, I’d be better off playing around in fantasy worlds of my own creation. In fantasy, it’s merely a matter of keeping things consistent and getting the psychology right, which is a much easier proposition. Human nature doesn’t change quite as rapidly as science; what is a perfectly reasonable and educated scientific proposition upon which to base an SF novel can look absurd and hopelessly unscientific less than ten years later.
There are a number of theories as to why science fiction appears to have been replaced by fantasy, even as ye olde high fantasy appears to be in the process of being replaced by urban fantasy and horror. I think several of them may be correct, but one thing I haven’t seen often discussed is the possibility that it’s simply easier to write about angst-ridden vampires and arrogant elves than it is about actual science.
So, my question for the writers here is what drew you to one sub-genre rather than the other, and if you write in multiple genres, which do you find easier to write in?