What Is Speculative Fiction?

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Speculative fiction.

It’s one of those strange terms that causes people to frown and ask, “What is that?”

Speculative fiction is a whole lot of things, actually. Things that are cool and bizarre. Things that fire the imagination and take us to amazing places.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before we get started, let me warn you that I’m going to do something different.

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’ll blame it on the way my mind works, or the fact that this approach was more fun.

Either way, I hope it’s an interesting take on defining speculative fiction for someone who doesn’t know the different between steampunk and space opera.

You know who you are.

I now present an explanation of speculative fiction for the uninitiated.

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 (do yourself a favor and look that reference up)

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

And with that, I conclude my grand thesis.

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 did you think of my explanation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


What Is Speculative Fiction? — 7 Comments

  1. I love your atypical presentation of the spec-fic definition. In an ironic way, it’s much more efficient than the long definition blog posts I’ve seen (and *for shame* have written.) Thanks for sharing, Zach!

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    • Thank *you*, Rebecca. I appreciate it. I’ve seen plenty of posts describe what spec-fic is, so I wanted to put a twist on it and do something different.

      Glad you stopped by! 😀

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