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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > March 2018 > Gateways to another dimension

Gateways to another dimension

Alex Davis explores portals in science-fiction and fantasy

It’s fair to say that while fantasy and science-fiction usually have the acts of imagination and worldbuilding in common, beyond that there isn’t a huge amount of ground they both tread. The magical worlds of fantasy often look backwards, eschewing technology in favour of a more historically-flavoured setting, whilst SF is more in the habit of looking forward, or at parallel versions of the present. Of course that’s not an exact rule – nothing is or should be immutable in any genre

With that said, the portal remains one of the symbols that is universal to both SF and fantasy. In fantasy fiction, a portal can transport someone from the world as we know it to fantastical lands of danger, magic and intrigue. In science-fiction, these portals can lead from one point of the galaxy to another, often something unknown or unexpected. Whilst they can doubtless be useful story devices, equally they should not simply be portable deus ex machina, popping up at convenient moments to allow our characters to escape from tricky situations or lead them handily to their next step in the movement of the storyline.

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About Writing Magazine

Bumper issue! Your guide to 2018's writing events and festivals Inside the new issue, discover what you can learn about writing by studying Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle, and get up to speed on what's happening in the grip lit genre. Learn how to conquer rejection and move your writing on, and see how our star interviewee, Katherine Arden, took inspiration from folklore and history for her magic realist historical fantasies. • Keep up to date with the latest writing competitions and opportunities in Writers' News.