Fantasy and fiction are sometimes used with a negative connotation, especially by the people who do not consider them as being part of reality. They are, however, as real as your plans and dreams about the future and they can offer lessons that you cannot find in schools or logic textbooks. The relationship between fantasy and fiction is intricate and intertwined; yet, clearly fantasy belongs to the fiction literary genre.
Fantasy versus Fiction
Fantasy, as an invented story, is a form of fiction. The main difference between fantasy and other types of fiction, such as science fiction, is that fantasy usually involves a mystical base, i.e. magical, mythical or supernatural, imagined worlds, while science fiction makes use of an analytical, scientific discourse and focuses on technology. Science fiction depicts the world as it may become one day, while fantasy describes it as the possible ideal world.
Fantasy and fiction have different types of heroes. In fantasy, the heroes are usually mythical creatures or humans with supernatural powers; in fiction -- including science fiction -- the heroes are humans with special talents that make them valuable leaders, effective problem solvers or formidable risk-takers, which help them and other characters in the story succeed in the end. In postmodern fiction, the protagonist is sometimes an anti-hero, an average person dealing with unusual circumstances.
The fantasy genre has many subgenres, including heroic/epic, dark, paranormal, romantic fantasy and fantastic romance, political, literary or science fantasy, comic/humorous, fables/fairy tales and mythic fantasy. Subgenres of fiction include science fiction, realistic fiction, cyberpunk, dystopia, extrasensory perception, frontier, lost worlds, parallel universes, post-apocalypse, space travel and utopia. The distinction between these subgenres, however, as well as between the two genres, is often a fine one, and difficult to discern.
Fantasy fiction involves a "good versus evil" conflict, solved optimistically in the end by the help of magic or witchcraft or other talents of an undiscovered dimension of this world. Fantasy appeals to universal myths, so everyone can understand the story without the need of a cultural or historical background. It also gives us some kind of resolution, offering the possibility of a new, better world and the reflection on the real world.
Fantasy fiction often represents metaphorical or allegorical expressions of reality, describing alternate worlds with the purpose of self-reflectiveness, of drawing attention to our reality rather than escaping from it. For example, utopias, dystopias and science fiction build alternate universes to emphasize the direction our human race might take someday, toward absolute bliss or complete annihilation. Unlike escapist fantasy fiction, realist fantasy fiction departs from reality only to reflect it better.