Avatar CatherineWow, doesn’t time fly when you are having fun…

I thought I would start the week with a look at what is Speculative Fiction. 

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, superhero, utopian and dystopian, apocalyptic and post – apocalyptic, steampunk, cyberpunk and alternate history.

Basically if it doesn’t fit into any other mainstream genre, it will probably fit within the broad definition of Speculative Fiction.

 The term is attributed to Robert A Heinlein.  He first used ‘speculative fiction’  in 1947 in the Saturday Evening Post to describe a piece of Science Fiction.  Later he explained that it did not include fantasy.  However this might have earlier been suggested as Speculative Literature in 1889 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine.  (thanks for Wikipedia for a simplified version)

Wherever it originated from, it has firmly planted itself into the literature of the modern times and does not show any sign of weakening any time soon.

Also known as spec-fic, (to make a difference from sf – which is the universally accepted abbreviation of science fiction), it is becoming popular these days as people try to escape the everyday lives they lead.

 The most popular piece of Science Fiction is of course Star Wars and Star Trek, both have become hugely successful in their own rights.  Probably the most recognisable to everyday people as Science Fiction

 Jules Verne, a well known Science Fiction writer, brought us 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, an early version of Steampunk, a genre recently popularised by Will Smith in Wild Wild West.

Fantasy – think JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) and CS Lewis (The Narnia Chronicles), JK Rowling for the Harry Potter Series, which would also fit into the subgenre of magical realism.

 We can always list horror writers with Stephen King very near the top with his specialty psychological slasher movies.

 Neville Shute is an unlikely Speculative Fiction novelist, but he wrote On the Beach about the citizens of Melbourne, Australia lying in wait for the end of the world after an atomic bomb was exploded (?) in the northern hemisphere.

 One of my favourite authors wrote an alternate history novel – Fatherland by Robert Harris.  Germany won  World War Two  and one man’s attempt to show the world the atrocities that Germany had committed and covered up, during the war.

That is just to give you some idea of what Speculative Fiction is all about.  And yes, I may have some wrong, but for the average Joe Bloggs, at least they have a better understanding of what is meant by Speculative Fiction.

Next blog will be how New Zealand, little Aotearoa, could feature in Speculative Fiction.  We also have an interview with NZ own horror writer, Lee Pletzer, and a discussion on whether NZ is undervalued as a Speculative Fiction producer.

SpecFicNZ Blogging Week!
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2 thoughts on “SpecFicNZ Blogging Week!

  • September 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Thought it appropriate to get the definition out there on Day one so that everyone knows what we are talking about. And it is surprising just how many of the novels we read actually do contain and element of Speculative Fiction in them. :o)


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