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This is not about this site's scope. I'm asking this because two questions a week apart seemed to share the same misconception about what "fantasy" was, seeming to take the general sense of the word rather than as a name of a fiction genre. They were both closed relatively quickly.

This is one of them: Girl from poor background adopted by lord, falls for her half-sibling?

(Although OP was referring to a work of literature, I got the sense that it was more a 19th century gothic romance novel than anything with wizards or swords.)

The relevant help center topic appears to assume that people know what "science fiction" and "fantasy" are. It's hard to confuse "Science fiction" with anything else, but "fantasy" might be a tougher concept for non-native English speakers.

The definition might only need to be minimal. As my comment asked OP,

Cutting to the chase here, are there any magical or supernatural elements to the story?

Update: Well I just saw the following comment in this recent question:

I think that the difference of opinion here is that we have different angles towards what "fantasy" is. I am using fantasy as in "I have a fantasy about driving my car over a cliff". Whereas everyone else is using fantasy as a genre. -athornton

This gets to the heart of the matter: Can we at least agree (and document) that "fantasy" refers to the fiction genre?"

  • Pretty much a duplicate of What are our boundaries? – Valorum Jun 4 at 18:08
  • And Does “Fantasy” include the supernatural? What about horror? which has a couple of nice definitions – Valorum Jun 4 at 18:10
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    This doesn't seem like a scope discussion at all, rather than a request at codifying the existing scope more clearly in the documentation. – TARS Jun 4 at 21:35
  • @TARS is correct: This is not about scope; it's about putting some text in the Help Center. – Spencer Jun 4 at 22:31
  • @TARS - Except that you're also wanting us to define scope on the fly when we've already hashed it out over a considerable number of meta questions – Valorum Jun 4 at 22:47
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    @Valorum No, just summarize the findings of all that hashing-out in a place we refer new users to. – Spencer Jun 4 at 23:15
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    @Spencer - I'm very wary of the idea of explicity codifying what qualifies as sci-fi/fantasy. If you write it down, it immediately becomes a stick to beat people with. – Valorum Jun 4 at 23:18
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    @Valorum And that is an answer to this question. – TARS Jun 4 at 23:20
  • The example that you link to is now polished up and migrated to Literature, since I think (hope) it has enough plot details to be answerable. – Rand al'Thor Jun 5 at 8:40
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No, because we don't have an "explicit definition" of fantasy.

The scope of this site is science fiction and fantasy, or speculative fiction, but we've never pinned down an exact rigorous definition of what any of these terms mean. Doing so would be difficult and divisive at best: no definition would please everyone, and any definition would likely exclude some things which should (at least according to some) be included and include some which should be excluded. Essentially we've adopted an "I know it when I see it" policy, and it's worked well for us.

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    Counterpoint: A definition need not be exhaustive, or even all that specific. We could just say "Fantasy refers to a literary genre. It is closely related to science fiction, and the two smoothly meld into each other to such an extent that they are now commonly regarded as a single genre, called speculative fiction." Note how there's no actual definition in that definition. But it would solve the problem that OP is concerned about quite nicely. – Kevin Jun 6 at 3:43
  • @Kevin: Exactly. – Spencer Jun 29 at 13:08

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