Crossing the Divide Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

There are some people who have clear preferences among their reading genres.  Myself, I read more science fiction than fantasy, but there are times when I definitely want the fantasy.  Then there’s my dad.

He’s the kind of thoughtful, rational person who has a hard time suspending his disbelief for a fantasy story.  It just feels dumb to him.

That’s fine.  That’s his choice, his preference, and I’ve given up pushing things on his that I know from experience he’s unlikely to like.

Sometimes, however, he surprises me.

We spoke on the phone last week, and he was gushing over a book he was reading.  A fantasy novel, of all things!

A few years ago I’d given my mom, who is a fantasy fan, a novel I’d quite enjoyed:  The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.


Personally, I wasn’t wild about the first 50-100 pages or so.  It felt a little generic.  But then it locked in, and, oh boy, I was engaged!  And so was my dad, apparently.

Frankly, it was kind of shocking to hear the amount of enthusiasm he had for this book, the first volume of what promises to be a very long trilogy. This from a guy who has quit on a number of fantasy novels in the past and walked out on several movies like Revenge of the Sith and Father of the Bride (!) because he thought they were too stupid and unrealistic.

So I guess my point here is that an old dog can learn new tricks, and that novels can transcend their genre. Soon, as he finishes the first and second volumes, he can wait eagerly with me for the third and final book.

Any other suggestions for books to convert the science fiction fan to fantasy, or vice versa?


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  1. I guess you Perdido Street Sation by China Miéville, an industrial fantasy novel. I say industrial fantasy because the setting is a pseudo 19Th century secondary world.

    And if you read french, i guess you “les chroniques crépusculaires” by Mathieu Gaborit.

  2. Has he tried any of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett? If the problem is that he feels most fantasy is too dumb, I don’t think that will be an issue with Pratchett. Just don’t start him off with the earliest books. I would recommend starting with Pyramids, Guards! Guards!, Reaper Man, Small Gods, or Lords and Ladies and have him go from there.

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