Does any story that involves outer space qualify as Science Fiction? Every time I’ve asked this question, the answer I’ve gotten back has been an overwhelming “yes”… and yet I continue to disagree.
Traveling to different worlds certainly isn’t a new idea. Consider Odysseus’ journey or Gulliver’s Travels as examples. Or, consider examples from fantasy literature; in Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné the titular character visits other worlds that exist as alternate realities connected either by Gates or by sailing on the ‘Seas of Fate’. This is exemplary of how most fantasy series treat the topic of aliens and alien settings. This piggybacked the widespread appeal of mediums like Dungeons and Dragons, particularly their Planescape setting and its whole series of interconnected realities.
Astroarcane’s primary deviation from other fantasy works is that the authors of the universe approach this topic with an armchair-astronomer’s understanding of the universe. And apparently, that’s all it takes to jump from fantasy to science fiction… at least according to the casual observer. (This disconnect is why Steph and I refer to Astroarcane as “space fantasy.”)
The idea of a pre-modern society having space travel does not, for me, immediately bring to mind science fiction. I am instead reminded of the Mayan’s weird artwork:
Iron Age interplanetary travelers? Some scholars make very serious claims about such topics.
Heck, Indiana Jones had to deal with these guys, and I don’t think anyone is claiming Indy has gone sci-fi. If you don’t believe me, re-watch Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and try to convince yourself that the monkey scene isn’t a work of fantasy.