Thursday, April 3, 2014

What is Speculative Fiction?


People often ask me, "What is speculative fiction?" Like all fiction, I like to tell them, it answers the question, "what if?" In speculative fiction, the question is, "What if anything imaginable were possible?" In my stories I've asked questions such as; What if a percentage of light speed travel is possible. What if time travel is possible? What if supernatural monsters are real? What if someone could physically enter the dreams of another person? What if hatred could manifest itself in a biological presence? What if a man discovered a portal between heaven and hell? These are only a few of the questions that have made it into my stories. I have hundreds of questions such as these that have the potential to become future stories and novels.

I know this concept seems like it could be infinitely wide-ranging, but I believe that is what speculative fiction should be. No restraints. Technically, speculative fiction encompasses the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. But even among these three, there are many subgenres. Wikipedia defines it as, " an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror fiction, weird fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.

According to Google, to speculate means to form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence. They define speculative as engaged in, expressing, or based on conjecture rather than knowledge. Those are fancy ways to say, "making stuff up." That's what we do when we write speculative fiction. I know some "hard science fiction" fans and writers that might disagree with that, but it's still taking what is known or possible and filling in the blanks. Some relevant synonyms might be conjectural, theoretical, hypothetical, or abstract. Put the word fiction after any one of those and it could probably be considered a subgenre of speculative fiction.

GreenTentacles.com attributes the creation of the term "speculative fiction" to Robert Heinlein (one of the big three science fiction writer of all time along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark) in 1941. DictionaryReferance.com gives a precise definition, "a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements. That makes it easy. Right?

Well, I'd better get busy writing. If you want to know more about my speculative writing, stop by my website. In the meantime, what's your favorite speculative genre. Or, if you want to be more specific, who is one of your favorite speculative fiction authors or what is one of your favorite speculative works?