As for the discussion of what is F, what is SF: what Pfhorrest said is pretty much exactly the distinction The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
resp. Science Fiction
makes. I believe most academics would agree to that, although there are of course many more specialized definitions or catchphrases (like Darko Suvin calling for the existence of a novum
in Science Fiction, or L. Sprague de Camp describing Fantasy as set in a world "as it ought
to have been to make a good story").
The most important distinction is whether a story believes in its own realizability: whether it says, "what I'm telling you might very much be possible, if not yet", or whether it says, "I'm telling you this despite
both of us knowing that it's not possible, and never will be." The question of possibility might affect the plot, the characters, or the setting, so LOTR is fantasy for the simple reason that we know that Middle-earth never existed. We don't know about Dune, however, and I would argue that Herbert's Dune
, despite its mysticism, displays more properties of SF than of F, for example his concern for ecological and social mechanisms.
Star Wars, on the other hand, combines a classic fairy-tale structure (deliberately copied from Joseph Campbell's monomyth
) with no scientific concern for the inner workings of the Force or a light sabre at all. The Science Fiction elements serve only as décor, just like some Steampunk settings employ a fantasy-laden décor to tell a story which at its heart is scientific. It's important to remember that it plays no role whether SF turned out to be "right" or not, since SF isn't about predicting the future, but more about extrapolating the present. Of course it's getting rather complicated when it deliberately employs devices already superseded at the time of writing (e.g. Jules-Verne-like air- oder ether-ships).Solaris
by Lem is most certainly Science Fiction, and one of the finest novels of the genre. It raises fundamental questions about the possibility of contacting and communicating with 'the other' (SF doesn't have to be about 'hard sciences'; in fact there have been many important shifts since the 60s and 70s), plus it also serves as a meta-commentary on the state of science and humanity in general. In parts it reads like a bitter and deadly serious parody, and there are few other writers who combine that better than Lem.
edit, & something completey different:
rmsgrey wrote:Morgoth is the Sindarin name for the Great Enemy (the guy Sauron was a sidekick of), so Mellogoth is an attempted portmanteau of Mellon and Morgoth.
Now I'm thinking about the origin of the Mellotron.