speculative fiction.

| Friday, October 22, 2010
Today's Tune: Feathers

Tweet your scary/gross/funny Halloween microfiction along with the hashtag #hallowfic. All the cool kids are doing it!

I wanted to talk about "speculative" fiction.

What is speculative fiction? It's an all-encompassing term for fiction that doesn't take place in the "real world," basically. It includes horror, science fiction, fantasy, dystopias, alternative history, and everything in between. It's a term that's historically been used to distance oneself from science fiction and its limitations, though these days it's come into wide usage as an umbrella term.

It's a term I hadn't heard much until I started getting really involved in the writing community, and I found it interesting. It makes sense to have one term for these genres, since there are so many literary magazines that publish multiple "imaginative" genres, like horror/paranormal or science fiction/fantasy. It also includes all those weird new multi-genres that don't quite have a traditional place yet.

At first, it rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. I thought it was a jab at science fiction - a way to distance oneself from the stereotypically negative connotations of sci-fi (stuffiness, nerdiness, boring). After some pondering, I now believe that while it can be used that way, it actually can be used to break away from the truly negative ideals of science fiction - that it's male-centric, highly specific, elitist, etc.

It also defines the undefinable. Those of us who write sci-fi-that-isn't-quite-sci-fi or fantasy-but-not-really now have a term for our genre.

But what does it really mean? Does it mean the same thing to everyone, or is it one of those "I know it when I see it" things? Is it too broad? Or does it give us the freedom to work without a label while still being able to tell people where our book would be in the store?

Curious. What do you think?

7 comments:

{ aspiring_x } at: October 22, 2010 at 10:00 AM said...

i was really wrong about what i thought speculative fiction was... i heard somewhere that it was an subset of science fiction...
yikes! thanks for the info! :)

{ Old Kitty } at: October 22, 2010 at 4:10 PM said...

I love the phrase "speculative fiction" - it's broad and yet hints at the genres it encompasses!!

Who invented this phrase anyway?
Sorry, that was a thought written aloud! LOL!

Take care
x

{ fairyhedgehog } at: October 23, 2010 at 10:23 AM said...

I've never understood why sci fi has such a negative image. I've always loved it.

{ Douglas Morrison } at: October 23, 2010 at 7:45 PM said...

Genres are being created faster than new IPhones. I wonder how many are created to explain a market niche, rather than writing style or content. Are Steam Punk books becoming so in demand that a whole genre had to be created to define it from others? I know Steam Punk is different dystopia, which is different from science fiction, etc, etc.. But do we really need these sub-genres?

{ Douglas Morrison } at: October 23, 2010 at 7:47 PM said...

Genres are being created faster than new IPhones. I wonder how many are created to explain a market niche, rather than writing style or content. Are Steam Punk books becoming so in demand that a whole genre had to be created to define it from others? I know Steam Punk is different dystopia, which is different from science fiction, etc, etc.. But do we really need these sub-genres?

So let me know when the next Video comes out!

All the Best,

DougM

{ Jemi Fraser } at: October 24, 2010 at 12:32 PM said...

To me spec fiction is always based on What if... Love it!

{ eeleenlee } at: October 25, 2010 at 6:29 AM said...

Its really a catch-all marketing term. Now the umbrella doesn't seem to cover all the permutations of genre, for example : steampunk, cyberpunk, splatterpunk, urban fantasy, New Weird, space opera, hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, military sci-fi,etc...

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