Speculative fiction  

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Loisirs Littéraires au XXe siècle (English: "Literary leasures in the 20th century") from the story "The End of Books" by French writer Octave Uzanne and illustrated Albert Robida. The illustration depicts a female reader of the 20th century, imagined by Robida, who is listening to  "12 poètes assortis" (twelve assorted poets) on a balcony overlooking a future city.
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Loisirs Littéraires au XXe siècle (English: "Literary leasures in the 20th century") from the story "The End of Books" by French writer Octave Uzanne and illustrated Albert Robida. The illustration depicts a female reader of the 20th century, imagined by Robida, who is listening to "12 poètes assortis" (twelve assorted poets) on a balcony overlooking a future city.
This page Speculative fiction is part of the fantasy series.Illustration: Screenshot from A Trip to the Moon (1902) Georges Méliès
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This page Speculative fiction is part of the fantasy series.
Illustration: Screenshot from A Trip to the Moon (1902) Georges Méliès
In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy written by Richard Matheson very loosely based on the poem, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. It stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers.
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In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy written by Richard Matheson very loosely based on the poem, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. It stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, 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.

History

Speculative fiction as a category ranges from ancient works to both cutting edge, paradigm-changing and neotraditional works of the 21st century. Speculative fiction can be recognized in works whose authors' intentions or the social contexts of the versions of stories they portrayed is now known, since ancient Greek dramatists such as Euripides (ca. 480–406 BCE) whose play Medea seems to have offended Athenian audiences when he fictionally speculated that shamaness Medea killed her own children instead of their being killed by other Corinthians after her departure, and whose Hippolytus, narratively introduced by Aphrodite, Goddess of Love in person, is suspected to have displeased his contemporary audiences because he portrayed Phaedra as too lusty. In historiography, what is now called speculative fiction has previously been termed "historical invention", "historical fiction", and similar names and is extensively noted in literary criticism of the works of William Shakespeare as when he co-locates Athenian Duke Theseus and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, English fairy Puck, and Roman god Cupid across time and space in the Fairyland of its Merovingian Germanic sovereign Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream; in mythography it has been termed "mythopoesis" or mythopoeia, "fictional speculation", the creative design and generation of lore, regarding such works as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Such supernatural, alternate history and sexuality themes continue in works produced within the modern speculative fiction genre.

The creation of speculative fiction in its general sense of hypothetical history, explanation, or ahistorical storytelling has also been attributed to authors in ostensibly non-fiction mode since as early as Herodotus of Halicarnassus, (fl. 5th century BCE) in his Histories, and was already both practiced and edited out by early encyclopaedic writers like Sima Qian (ca. 145 or 135 BCE–86 BCE), author of Shiji, which suggests the caveat that while many works now considered intentional or unintentional speculative fiction existed before the coining of the genre term, its concept in its broadest sense captures both a conscious and unconscious aspect of human psychology in making sense of the world, reacting to it, and creating imaginary, inventive, and artistic expressions, some of which underlie practical progress through interpersonal influences, social and cultural movements, scientific research and advances, and philosophy of science.

In its English language usage in arts and literature since 20th century, "speculative fiction" as a genre term is often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein. In his first known use of the term, in editorial material at the front of the 2/8/1947 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Heinlein used it specifically as a synonym for "science fiction"; in a later piece, he explicitly stated that his use of the term did not include fantasy. Heinlein may have come up with the term himself, but there are earlier citations: a piece in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1889, used the term in reference to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000–1887 and other works; and one in the May, 1900 issue of The Bookman said that John Uri Lloyd's Etidorhpa, The End of the Earth had "created a great deal of discussion among people interested in speculative fiction". A variation on this term is "speculative literature".

The use of "speculative fiction" in the sense of expressing dissatisfaction with traditional or establishment science fiction was popularized in the 1960s and early 1970s by Judith Merril and other writers and editors, in connection with the New Wave movement. It fell into disuse around the mid-1970s. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database contains a broad list of different subtypes. In the 2000s, the term has come into wider use as a convenient collective term for a set of genres. Academic journals which publish essays on speculative fiction include Extrapolation, and Foundation.

Distinguishing speculative fiction from science fiction

"Speculative fiction" is sometimes abbreviated "spec-fic", "specfic", but these last three abbreviations are ambiguous as they have long been used to refer to science fiction, which lies within this general range of literature, and in several other abbreviations.

The term has been used to express dissatisfaction with what some people consider the limitations of science fiction, or otherwise to designate fiction that falls under readily stereotypical genres so that it can be pigeonholed within such categorical limits as "fantasy" or "mystery".

For example, in Harlan Ellison's writing, the term may signal a wish not to be pigeonholed as a science fiction writer, and a desire to break out of science fiction's genre conventions in a literary and modernist direction; or to escape the prejudice with which science fiction is often met by mainstream critics.

The term "suppositional fiction" is sometimes used as a sub-category designating fiction in which characters and stories are constrained by an internally consistent world, but not necessarily one defined by any particular genre.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Speculative fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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