Subject Guides Books Reading Lists Science Fantasy

Selected science fiction that feels like fantasy and fantasy that feels like science fiction. Science Fantasy mixes these two genres, and can be one or the other, neither, or both. Updated July 2011.

  • The Spiderwick chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
    The adventures of the Grace children, twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory, after they move into Spiderwick Estate and discover a world of faeries that they never knew existed.
  • Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance (1950 +)
    Vance's Dying Earth series is the epitome of science fantasy: a blend of science fiction and fantasy in both tone and content, typically with exotic settings and what could be construed either as magic or as incredibly advanced science. Vance's series, with a unique elegant style, takes place in the far distant future.

  • Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin (1966)
    Ursula Le Guin's first novel seamlessly blends science fiction and fantasy. Rocannon, an ethnologist, visits the planet Formalhaut II to study the native culture, and finds himself trapped when his ship is destroyed. In his adventures he rides on the back of giant winged cats, meets the various species inhabiting the planet, some of which have similarities to the men, elves, and dwarves of fantasy fiction, and must confront a mysterious presence in a cave. In Rocannon's World, Le Guin explores the implications of space travel, faster than light communication, and the meeting of alien cultures. A powerful story, appropriate for fans of either genre.

  • Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe (1980)
    This is the first two books in his Book of the New Sun quartet, considered by many to be one of the great SF works of the last century -- but its "dying earth" setting and baroque conceptions place it firmly in the science fantasy field too. One of Wolfe's major themes is the uncertain nature of reality.

  • The Gates to Witch World by Andre Norton (1963-65)
    This omnibus includes the first three books in Norton's Witch World series about an entire world and individuals in which magic struggles with technology. Norton's characters try to find their true natures and their places in a world into which they don't seem to fit. Many fantasy readers started with Norton when young!

  • The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny (1970)
    Zelazny combines the wise-cracking, action-oriented tone of the occult detective novels on this list with the mythological content of the urban fantasy. Nine brothers and sisters contest for the throne of Amber, the one true world of which all others (including Earth) are mere shadows.

Category: Reading Lists, Fantasy, Science Fiction

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