What Is Speculative Fiction?

Speculative fiction represents the longing we have to imagine the impossible, dream the unbelievable, and explore the uncharted.
on Sep 20, 2016 · No comments

Time to play rebel. Star Wars rebel, anyone?

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

Trying to describe the vast variety of spec-fic is akin to distilling the grand history of Middle-earth into a single, user-friendly pamphlet. That’s my approach—small scale, touching on the key elements. I’m not going to give a neat post listing the various nuances of speculative fiction or going into detailed explanation on how it differs from other genres, and which genres are considered spec-fic.

Plenty of useful articles out there do that already.

My approach is more abstract. I hope it’s an interesting take on defining speculative fiction for someone who doesn’t know the different between steampunk and space opera.

Or even for someone who can spout off LotR trivia or coherently debate the question of which side would win between Star Trek and Star Wars.

I now present an explanation of spec-fic for the uninitiated (and everyone else).

Speculative Fiction Is…

  • The imagination running wild
  • Brilliant things that seem impossible—but are eerily believable
  • Breathtaking adventures
  • Ordinary stories given a healthy dose of fearless creativity
  • Views that challenge and provoke
  • Mind-bending questions answered in incredible ways
  • Inspiration given life
  • A place where nothing is off-limits because of how ridiculous it sounds
  • Unexpected but familiar
  • The epic clash between good and evil
  • Reality clothed in the garments of the incredible
  • The daring “what if?” questions explored
  • An attempt to explain the past, the present, or the future in a wildly different way
  • Spectacular worlds
  • Boldly going where no one has gone before

Speculative Fiction Is Also…

  • Hobbits
  • Time travel
  • Aliens
  • Dragons
  • Alternate realities
  • Magic
  • Talking animals
  • Spaceships
  • Zombies and vampires
  • Robots
  • Superheroes
  • Vulcans
  • Knights in shining armor
  • A Doctor in a blue police box

Speculative Fiction Is Not…

  • Comfortably typical
  • Safe, boring, or limited in scope
  • Restrained
  • Normal or average
  • Something that appeals to everyone
  • Kansas, Toto

Speculative Fiction Represents…

The longing we have to imagine the impossible, dream the unbelievable, and explore the uncharted.

I’ve only given an overview of the grandness of spec-fic, but I hope it was enough to paint at least a broad picture of the genre.

What would you add to the description of what spec-fic is or isn’t?

*This post appeared in original form in March 2015 at zacharytotah.com

Zachary Totah writes speculative fiction stories. This allows him to roam through his imagination, where he has illegal amounts of fun creating worlds and characters to populate them. When not working on stories or wading through schoolwork, he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with his family and friends, watching movies, and reading. He lives in Colorado and doesn't drink coffee. He loves connecting with other readers and writers. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Goodreads, and at his website.

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