The Desert in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

Deserts (and desolate lands) have fascinated me since I was a kid; I’ve always felt myself drawn to them conceptually. But why? I can’t find a particular reason for this — I didn’t grow up in a desert; my ancestors don’t come from a culture strongly associated with one;  and I’ve never actually been to one. Even so, this inexplicable link with deserts feels natural. If I ever got to writing a fantasy novel, the story would most certainly commence in a desert.

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Jakku (Abu Dhabi), Star Wars : The Force Awakens

By this point, deserts have intertwined with my imagination at its core, recurring again and again in both my every day interest — specifically, history and the Middle East — and, more importantly here, the fantasy I choose to read or watch.

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Science Fiction and Space

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

Those of us who have read or watched science fiction know that one of the most common characteristics of sci-fi is travel through space. Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, The Foundation Series, and the many of the most famous works of Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and other classic authors occur in space. Among modern sci-fi, award-winning books like Redshirts and Ancillary Justice also take place in this environment.

Space is, of course, beautiful, and has its charms, but I believe that the genre’s focus on space does not make much sense. Realistically speaking, it is unlikely we are ever going to be able to jump across stars in a single lifetime, and science fiction is about the future, or the possibilities of the future. Therefore, I believe that stories that take place in space, but lack realism — often, but not always, grouped together as “Space Opera” — are merely works of fantasy that take place in space. Even then, these works too ought to be subject to believable in-world explanations of why things are the way they are.

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