“Tis’ true without lying, certain and most true. That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of only one thing.” – from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes the Thrice-Greatest

If what we now call mythology was the effort of our ancient ancestors to make that which was above – the sky, the stars, the heavens, the divine – below, then are not science fiction and fantasy the effort of our historical ancestors and contemporaries to make that which is within – the imagination, lived experience, and perception of reality – without? And if I am reluctant to divorce the two genres from one another it is not mine alone as they still share shelves in book shops and joint categories with online vendors. Fantasy and science fiction occupy similar spaces in the literary world as “genre” (read: less than, at least according to the Academy.) They share tropes, use similar mechanics, serve similar purposes, and even steal from one another.

For most of the history of their usage in fiction, zombies were magical beings – reanimated corpses summoned back through necromancy. The word and the folklore is Haitian in origin. But in the modern zombie “lore” – with the exception of an odd episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” here or “American Horror Story – Coven” there -the magically animated zombie is long dead. It’s always a pathogen now. A pandemic. Mutated airborne rabid super AIDS. Zombies are science fiction.

Vampires – or something that occupies that space – have existed cross-culturally since antiquity, but the word itself entered the zeitgeist and became part of common usage due largely to mass hysteria brought on by the outbreak of a mysterious pathogen in the 18th century. Here we see the previous pattern in reverse: the contemporary science was incapable of explaining the situation and so the existing folklore of, in this case, the Balkans filled in the gaps. Perhaps because science was eventually able to discover that typhus was a lot more treatable and less interesting than vampires – or because that attempt at making vampires “science-based” in the Blade movies was absolutely awful, the magical vampire lived on and remained a creature of fantasy.

The attempt here is not to compare and contrast the two genres, nor is it to merely to live within the intersection of the two – although that is squarely where we do, in fact, live. Science fiction and fantasy are both going about the exact same work – the same work as the storytellers who would become the myth makers. These genres are, through either explorations of technology and science that is tenuously connected to something that is at least within the realm of the “maybe,” or – as in the case of fantasy. through the exploration of a theme or concept that is at least somewhat consistent in the nonsense it invents – making the world, the lived experiences of the author, the time and place in which the writer finds themselves, the perspective that that creates, the lessons of inhabiting a space populated by specters and phantoms of one’s own subjective reality, and spitting it all out in the metaphor that best suits the universe spinning in their own heads.

Some people are perfectly happy to hold on to their magical thinking. Others demand evidenced-based hard science. But the supernatural and the scientific, fantasy and science fiction, emotion and logic; these seemingly diametrical opposites do not have to be at odds. They can co-exist. Just look at Kirk and Spock’s relationship.

No, really. Look at it.

I’m talking about the slash fiction.

The original and the J.J. Abrams reboot. I’m honestly down for either. Both. Wizard me into that timeline.