I see the site is called "Science Fiction & Fantasy", but from what I can see, the "Fantasy" aspect is largely contained to Tolkien and Game of Thrones type fair.

In any bookshop "Fantasy" would likely include supernatural stories, eg. Stephen King, et al. Same would go for films. Is Poltergeist a "Fantasy" movie? "The Shining"?

Where is the line drawn here?

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  • @TonyMeyer That's the SF version of this question (which is about the "Fantasy" aspect). Feb 10, 2014 at 14:51
  • the question is old. The answer still applies: if you feel that it suits the site, then it does. Genre is in the eye of the beholder.
    – Tony Meyer
    Feb 10, 2014 at 15:00
  • @TonyMeyer The problem is that the answer doesn't apply. Just because I think a supernatural horror story like The Shining falls under the "Fantasy" banner, doesn't mean others do. For example, a long while ago I had just such a question closed for being outside the scope of Sci-Fi & Fantasy: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/26342/… (Note: I'm not griping about that question, it's just an example that springs to mind.) Feb 10, 2014 at 15:15
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    @DjangoReinhardt That answer, imo, does apply. In the example you listed, I think it falls under item #6 of Gilles' answer: "If there is a minor supernatural element (e.g. a fortune teller's prediction comes true, or someone sees a ghost, or a story for children involving anthropomorphic animals) but it's just a throwaway plot element that's not particularly relevant to the question, it's off-topic." While "minor" may not really apply to the supernatural element of The Shining, the supernatural elements don't in any way apply to your question there.
    – Beofett
    Feb 10, 2014 at 16:24
  • @Beofett I'm confused by what you're saying. So you agree that "The Shining" itself meets the criteria for "Fantasy" as defined in the FAQ, but that the question doesn't make reference to those elements, so IT doesn't? Feb 10, 2014 at 16:56
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    @DjangoReinhardt There are two different things here: whether a title can be considered Fantasy/Scifi, and whether a question about a title that can be considered Fantasy/Scifi is on topic. The Shining clearly can be considered on topic, since it features psychic powers and supernatural elements. However, your question, despite being about a work that is on topic, is not on topic because it doesn't ask anything related to the supernatural elements. "How does Danny's power work?" might be on topic, but "what type of typewriter does Johnny use?" is not.
    – Beofett
    Feb 10, 2014 at 17:55
  • @Beofett A simple "yes", would have sufficed ;) I cannot fathom your logic, however. I think it's fair to say that, if your criteria was accepted by the site as a whole, and only questions that pertain to the fantastical/sf elements of each fiction in question were allowed, that a substantial percentage of the questions here would be considered "off topic". As the FAQ puts it: "Plot, character, or setting explanations", and NOT "Plot, character, or setting explanations that relate to fantastical story elements". Feb 10, 2014 at 21:00
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    Considering that A) the meta answer that outlines this policy has 22 upvotes, and B) the community closed your The Shining question, yet other questions on Stephen King's works that deal more specifically with fantasy elements are still open, I think your assumption that these criteria aren't accepted by the site as a whole may be somewhat misplaced....
    – Beofett
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:13
  • @Beofett I can see what you're saying, but the community clearly doesn't follow such strict criteria. There are plenty of questions that deal with normal character motivations or of non-fantastical minuta that are extremely highly rated. Consider Why does the paper in Battlestar Galactica have the corners cut off? or What is the origin of the “Riker Chair Maneuver”? It seems to me that if the world itself is fantastical, then there's more leeway to ask about non-fantastical things. Feb 10, 2014 at 21:49
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    Exactly. The more fantastical(or science-fictiony) the world is, the more leeway is given. Both Star Trek and BSG are rather immersed in the scifi elements, so considerable leeway is granted. The less prominent the scifi/fantasy elements, the more the need for questions to focus specifically on those elements. "What kind of typewriter did Jack Torrance use?" isn't really a scifi question, as it is mundane trivia, but if Captain Kirk used a typewriter, asking what kind he used might be okay, because it would be an out-of-place anachronism in a scifi setting.
    – Beofett
    Feb 10, 2014 at 22:03
  • Ironically I was actually asking my question about The Shining because I thought it might help unravel the mysteries of that film (you never know) -- so it was referring to the fantastical elements in a way. Doesn't matter of course. I can see the distinction now anyway -- even if Riker's chair maneuver/paper corners in BSG are pushing the boundaries of that distinction. Thanks! Feb 10, 2014 at 23:59
  • I definitely agree with the principle that "you shall know it, when you see it".
    – Valorum
    Feb 15, 2014 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


There's currently no "horror.SE", but there is an Area 51 proposal.

I'm not totally certain that I completely agree with your assertion that it's "largely contained to Tolkien and Game of Thrones type fair" here; that is currently the most popular type of fantsy, for sure, but there are also many HP Lovecraft, Stephen King (particularly Dark Tower), as well as generic horror questions, and these do seem to tend to come up on a fairly regular basis.

Questions tagged HP Lovecraft
Questions tagged Stephen King
Questions tagged Horror

In other words, while these works aren't so heavily represented, they are represented and the proportions of representation are roughly what one might expect given current levels of relative popularity. This doesn't seem to be a problem at all.

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    I'd point out that Harry Potter is the #2 tag on the site, and is most certainly Fantasy, but a very different kind than Tolkien/GoT, so to further back your point up - there is more than mainly Tolkien/GoT
    – The Fallen
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:35
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    @SSumner - wait. You mean Harry Potter is NOT for real?????? Feb 11, 2014 at 19:09
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    @DVK - oh, it is. Just many people think it's not and try to suppress the truth. So in order not to anger the masses, we'll "pretend" it's not ;)
    – The Fallen
    Feb 11, 2014 at 19:12

A fantasy story is one that has at least one element that is clearly and unambiguously magical or supernatural in nature. This is the definition that I use and, by and large, it includes most stories that are classified as "horror".

Before going any further, I am going to put up a special case, some might argue it to be an exception, of/to that rule. There are stories written as "science fiction" which contain elements of what I call "higher order reality". Things such as psionics and pure energy beings could be classified as fantastical elements, but if the author sticks to a pure science fiction story line, I just call them "elements of some higher order or aspect of reality that cannot be directly viewed or measured using nothing but Newtonian/Einsteinian physics". Thus Zenna Henderson's The People stories, the Q continuum, quite a few elements from Babylon 5, and of course, The Force, can all be squeezed into the science fiction genre.

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