Why do stores put Science Fiction and Fantasy together? Sci-Fi Fantasy Crossover appeal!

When you go into a bookstore anytime in the last decade you have probably seen the “FANTASY/SCI-FI” section and it is all lumped together.

Aren’t those two things different you ask? Does it bug you that they don’t get treated differently?

After all, just a few years ago you could walk into a bookstore and see a section called “Teenage paranormal romance” where young people would fall in love with vampires and werewolves or be torn between those two.

So why is it that teenage paranormal romance gets to be off by itself and these two genres get lumped?

First, maybe we want to readers of that paranormal stuff to not be in the mix with anyone else. Maybe it is just better that way. They probably don’t want to mingle with sci-fi readers, and perhaps vice versa.

Second, Fantasy and Science Fiction do overlap in ways. They are books or series of books that create a world that differs greatly from the one we live in. One were characters aren’t bound by the laws of physics or even magic or lack thereof that we have in our daily lives.

These genres offer a specific type of escape that some readers (like me) are craving. I don’t care if it “isn’t believable” that someone can cast a fireball spell or travel faster than light. I just want a compelling story. If I wanted “believable” I’d head over to action thriller, or pure fiction. I’m here for the fantastical, that that’s why those two get put together in my opinion. And honestly, I hope it stays that way!

Check out the cover, and one of the interior photos of my personal copy of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for AD&D written by Gary Gygax himself.

Maybe someday at a Con I can run this adventure as a DM and convince Luke Gygax to participate!


Hugo and Nebula Award Winning Novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card gets thrown around as a name among the best sci fi books ever. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it does have an interesting story line and really interesting history if you are a writer, or just someone who is a writing enthusiast.

First, it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1986 for best novel, but first appeared as a short story in 1977. Wait? What?

That’s right. It originally appeared in a 1977 edition of Analog Magazine as a short story, and didn’t even rate a mention on the cover.



I happen to have a copy of that issue of Analog, and take a look for yourself!

The book itself is a military science fiction novel set at some point in Earth’s future when all of humanity may be destroyed by an alien invading horde called “the buggers.”

The book is unique because it raises the question of morality. What would people to, what would humans do, if pushed with extinction. Could we destroy an entire civilization? Some people wouldn’t. But how would you?

This society decides that taking children from a very young age and training them to be commanders that make those decisions could be the right answer. The book really doesn’t focus on technology of the future, which is probably why it ages well. It focuses on morality and questions morality. Which is unique in the sci fi world, and let’s face it human morality hasn’t changed a lot in hundreds of years.

The book has been turned into a film, a video game, comic books, you name it, the thing has been done that way. I don’t think the movie was amazing, but the book was pretty solid.

As a writer myself it is interesting to me that Orson Scott Card wrote it as a short story and kept working on it for years to get it the way he wanted it. I myself am just finishing a story that I have been at for a very long time, attempting to get it just the way I see it in my head.

This also gives something to the other authors out there. If you have an idea, and you want it a specific way, sometimes that doesn’t happen fast. Sometimes you have to edit, expand, work through, think through and overcome the doubt of yourself and others. The result might just be a book that stays in that “best of list” for four decades.

If you haven’t read it, find a copy of the book. Give it a shot. You will find something different from the rest of the science fiction genre.

Yes, I have a few copies of it including the leather bound one by Easton Press, and kind of show them off here throughout this post…But, I have an extensive book collection that never seems to shrink. I may need a larger home soon.


Warbots by G. Harry Stine

I first found these books in the really late 80s and read them along with my father. I found them interesting because a future military that had become so dependent on drone and robotic technology they forgot how to fight.

Then one day they came across an enemy and a battle that could not be fought by these mechanized warriors and had to learn how to fight again. When we got to modern warfare with drones, I went to go find copies of these books and they were out of print.

I spent two years getting them back in print for people to enjoy. But, the original covers were lost to time. (The legal rights to use them). I do have the originals, and the re-released version is available in print and e-book formats.

But…Let’s discuss what these books really are. All twelve are now available again over on Amazon.

From the back cover:

In the high-tech laboratories of tomorrow a brutal new breed of super-soldier is born!

The brutal face of warfare has been dramatically altered. Armored giants now roam the explosive fields of battle. Massive instruments of devastation with computer minds inseparably linked with the brainwaves of their human masters. They are the Warbots. Men and machines combined to create the most lethal warriors in the history of armed conflict.

But a monstrous challenge emerges for the mechanical gladiators emanating from a country that technology forgot. As Captain Curt Carson leads his robot infantry in a daring attempt to rescue 105 hostages from the sadistic clutches of a bloodthirsty terrorist army, the soldiers of tomorrow face the butchers of yesterday in a battle for the future of the free world.


Double-Spiral War by Warren Norwood

Today’s blast from the fiction past is The Double Spiral War by Warren Norwood.

It is actually a trilogy, although I only have the first two. The books in the War are Midway Between, Polar Fleet and Final Command. I have read the first two, but not the third. Someday I will go find a copy of that third one and finish out the set, but to date as you can see from the pictures of the cover art, I only have two of the three.

It is an action packed book, but it basically makes mankind into people who want to go into space to find new worlds…to conquer. It doesn’t necessarily paint us in a picture that is historically incorrect because that is what has happened (think European expansion into the Americas, or Roman empire for that matter).

I would write it differently as I’m not that into the conquering hero kinds of stories, but I guess Star Trek already did that and it worked out better than it did for this particular trilogy.

I like the authors writing style, and have read a few others by them. This one is entertaining but be prepared for some late 70s early 80s gender stereotypes. They are there, and while I don’t agree with that sort of thing if you skip over and ignore it the rest of the story is ok. It isn’t great but it is ok.

One of the things I do really like about my collection of fiction novels from this era, especially the pulp fictiony sorts of things is the artwork.

I will leave it at that, if you have a copy someplace and haven’t read it, and are looking for something to do. It is fine for that, but I can probably recommend 50 better sci fi books if you are looking. Just drop me an email or comment if you want those recommendations!

V – Visitors, the original series and books

When the original miniseries V hit television in the mid 1980s it was seen by hundreds of millions of viewers. It was also turned into a novel by A.C. Crispin.

It was the story of these strange Alien Visitors to earth who came here claiming they would solve all of the Earth’s problems. Shortly after they started “helping” the truth was revealed and they weren’t here to help, they were here to harvest. But, given the way they appeared not everyone believed they were up to some nefarious deeds. Many people turned a blind eye.

It was up to a small band of resistance fighters to solve the problem. Humanity hung in the balance. They had to fight to stand up to the visitors to save the human race. They don’t have many people willing to take up the fight and are even hunted by their fellow humans.

If you remember the miniseries, you will enjoy the book. It isn’t the only one in the series, they are quick reads, and thoroughly enjoyable.

The picture below is a behind the scenes photo from the filming of that original miniseries.










Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact July 1994

Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine would occasionally come in double issues. The July 1994 edition was one of those.

If you are a Sci-Fi fan looking to find new authors this publication was the one to have back in the day. It had two Novellas and Four Novelettes, along with multiple short stories and a few science fact articles of note.

Plus, the authors you can find in these things were great, in this one alone you have Ben Bova, Rick Cook, Buzz Aldrin, and the list goes on.



The short stories are always fun, in this one there are four, none stand outs but nice short diversions for an hour or two.

The two in this one that stand out to me are The Science Fact Articles.

Multiple Comet Strikes on Jupiter was all about Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which smacked into Jupiter and we got to see the impact. If that thing had hit Earth you wouldn’t be reading this blog, we would have had real problems. When I was a graduate student I had the chance to meet one of the two men who discovered it. Super nice guy, who made comet hunting his passion for years and held a day job outside of Astronomy. So basically, an amateur astronomer made one of the largest discoveries in Astronomy of the last 50 years. Kinda cool if you think about it.

The other is by Buzz Aldrin (yeah that guy) about getting humans back to the moon. Why we should do it, and what will it take now (ok in the 90s) versus in the late 1960s. It was really informative and I think someday we will be back on the moon, but I have no idea when. But perhaps this time we can stay longer and learn more!

Another fun read, another fun bit of artwork in my blast from the past sprint I am on these days.






Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact March 1978

I do enjoy going through old sci fi magazines. You never are sure what you will find.

Analog is a mixture of Science Fiction and Science Fact. Which makes it perfect for my inner scientist to find something to kind of just lose myself in for a bit. Usually it isn’t anything the layperson couldn’t understand so it is nice to have that higher level, lots of thought not required kind of thing to read.

In the March 1978 issue of Analog you see several interesting stories that are fiction, but to me there is one science fact article that sticks out and some of the decades old ads.

The ad that caught my attention was a “Making of Star Wars” ad that was $10 for four issues of 24 color pages of making of shots, and interviews. What would that be worth today? Haha

Second was an article on taking nuclear waste from reactors and throwing it into space. Which from a theoretical physics perspective kind of works, but what happens if it blows up on the launch pad or in the upper atmosphere. It kind of presents a problem.

But inside the article the physics is exactly right. It presents a rational explanation of reactors and discusses the challenges faced with the waste byproducts. Pretty cool stuff that not a lot of people understand but everyone claims to be an expert as to “how bad” it is.

I will keep going through my dad’s collection and see what else pops up, but this one was pretty darn cool.


Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact February 1978

My love of reading has been a lifelong passion. Now that I am older I fully realize I have to credit my father with this love. He took me to bookstores when I could barely read, he always had a fiction novel somewhere within arm’s reach. He had authors he adored, others he criticized and had a passion for finding something new to read.

One thing he did for as long as I could remember was subscribe to Analog Magazine. This is a science fiction magazine that started in the 1930s when it was called Astounding Stories of Super-Science.

When he passed away I became the proud owner of his collection of books and back issues.

I picked up the February 1978 issue from the stack this morning and found some really interesting stuff.

This thing has novellas, or short stories by Vonda McIntyre who won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, George RR Martin of Game of Thrones notoriety, and Orson Scott Card of the Ender Series and tons of others.






The artwork in these early magazines is striking in my humble opinion. Sure, today’s artwork goes all high resolution computer driven, but imagine doing each image by hand, getting it to the publisher and making sure it can be mass produces on time.






The George RR Martin story is an interesting one.

Call Him Moses is the story of Tuf just wanted to eat in a nice restaurant. Then he was sucked into a fight involving this character Moses who had unleashed a plague, and someone needed to do something to stop a potential generation from suffering.




The Orson Scott Card story follower is the story of 12 year old Reuben who decided on his 12th birthday that this was going to be his year! It is an interesting story to read, and if you get the chance I recommend it, but that isn’t the point to this post.

As a writer myself people ask me why I bother on occasion with short stories or Novella length things that may or may not ever get published.

These shorter form bits of fiction do sometimes grow and turn into full blown novels. In face, Ender’s Game originally appeared in Analog as a short story, then grew and grew and grew into a series.

These magazines are becoming a thing of the past in favor of fan fiction, and it is my position that it’s really ok and fan fiction deserves more attention than it deserves. It is where the big authors of tomorrow go to hone their craft. It isn’t easy writing a book, getting a story to hand together for that long, and not get distracted and stay interesting is a challenge.

I love these old magazines, and I will treasure them until my kids end up with them on their shelf when I am gone.