I have spent my life as a career research scientist with some modest degree of success. Science research is creative but hardnosed. Speculation is absolutely forbidden. Every statement must be backed by a reference or evidence, preferably with P values. A question that I keep being asked is why, out of all possible choices for subject matter that could be described as SF&F, do I write magical fantasies? Surely my heart should be with hard-core science fiction.
The problem is that I know too much about the natural world. I find it difficult to write about things that are virtually true or, to put it another way, wrong. This is not a problem that afflicts engineers or physical scientists. The starship Enterprise travels faster than light by ‘bending’ space with a ‘warp drive’. Fine. It is so far outside of physics that it means nothing and challenges nothing. I have a story that is being published in April that uses mediums to ‘fly’ starships to the stars, a concept that is no more real or unreal than a warp-drive.
However, Romulans and Klingons are a nonsense. They are not just humans with plastic bits on but they also behave like one-dimensional humans.
Years ago when I was a teenager (many, many years ago,) I read a fascinating and superbly written story about an intelligent animal shaped like a wheel. The hook was that it had evolved on a bay’s shoreline that had complex currents that rolled the beast around – so it had to move to live. Great idea, but it’s biological nonsense and that bothers me. Such an organism could never evolve.
However, once you use a magic-fantasy setting then anything is possible. The supernatural, by definition, does not have to conform to natural science. The only limitation is the writer’s imagination and his skill in persuading a reader to suspend belief.