Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Speculative Fiction--Part I: What is Speculative Fiction?

I'm going to do a series of posts on speculative fiction for a class I'll be teaching at an upcoming writing conference. Hope you all will find some value here!

Speculative fiction, according to Wikipedia, is: "an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, 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."

In other words, speculative fiction is the type of fiction that speculates about something contrary to our known reality. Speculative fiction answers the question, "What if?"

What if we had faster-than-light space travel?

What if aliens visited Earth?

What if magic were real?

What if dragons existed?

What if a natural disaster destroyed civilization as we know it?

The possibilities are limitless, once we willingly suspend our disbelief. I think that's why I love reading, watching and especially writing speculative fiction so much.

What are your thoughts on what constitutes speculative fiction?

Up next: Part II: The difference between science fiction and fantasy

15 comments:

Stephanie McGee said...

Love spec fic, love fantasy. It was so much fun a couple years ago researching all the different genres when I did my genre series on my blog.

Nisa said...

The What Ifs can be so much fun. The possibilities really are endless and I think that's the real magic in Speculative Fiction.

Melanie Fowler said...

What if these things really do happen and exist, but we just can't see them? It would be fun to think about.

Carolyn V said...

Speculative fiction is awesome! And congrats on teaching at the writers' conferences! So great! Will you be at LTUE?

Tess said...

I'm always amazed by those who can make up whole worlds and unique creatures ... my imagination just doesn't go there but I sure enjoy reading those sorts of things. very interesting stuff here - hope all is well there w/ you Angie :)

AstonWest said...

I always wonder about the "What if?" concept behind speculative fiction...because really, any novel or storyline could be construed in that light. What if terrorists took control of Air Force One? Do we consider the movie speculative fiction, or a thriller?

I'd be more apt to use the idea, "What if the world we're watching didn't operate according to the parameters we're familiar with?"

Angie said...

Yes, Melanie. I think that's where the fun comes from for me. Maybe it could be real...

Tess, thank you. Hope all is well with you too!

Todd, you're right. All stories are built on "what ifs." I thought of that. I guess spec-fic "what ifs" are more in the realm of the impossible, or least not what we observe.

Cherie Reich said...

This sounds like a great series. :)

I think you nailed it with the speculative fiction and the possibility of "what if?" I think this question is why people enjoy speculative fiction so much. :)

Becky Mushko said...

I think paranormal could also be considered speculative fiction.

Aubrie said...

I love those "what if"'s. I need them! Otherwise life is so boring!

Thank you for downloading the shorts stories collection!!! :)

Angie said...

Absolutely, Becky. That definitely falls within the speculative umbrella.

You're welcome, Aubrie. I totally agree. Life would be way too boring without the what ifs. Thanks!

Shallee said...

I love speculative fiction! To me, it is anything that takes a look at something beyond the normal world we experience every day. Paranormal, fantasy, sci fi...they explore what would happen if something in our normal world was NOT so normal.

Great series, Angie! Where are you going to be teaching?

Jackee said...

How I love "what if" questions! Thanks for that great definition. I always have to stop and think what "spec fic" is when I see the words. With your definition, maybe I won't have to anymore! I love that it is inclusive to all writers who like to write beyond the plausible. :o)

Have a great night, Angie!

Kurt Kammeyer said...

My writing is certainly speculative, but it's not exactly sci-fi, and it's definitely not fantasy per se. It revolves around the LDS concept of the Plan of Salvation, but on a different world. I try to make it all plausible to the LDS reader; for the "Gentile" audience, it probably verges more on fantasy, but with a strong Christian flavor. How do you categorize that?

Lyn Perry said...

I like your bite-sized morsels here. Thanks for the series of posts. For me spec fic is that realm where anything can happen that normally doesn't happen in real life (combining the what if and the suspend disbelief elements).