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

It has been around since humans began to speak. The earliest forms of speculative fiction were likely mythological tales told around the campfire. Speculative fiction deals with the "What if?" scenarios imagined by dreamers and thinkers worldwide. Journeys to other worlds through the vast reaches of distant space; magical quests to free worlds enslaved by terrible beings; malevolent supernatural powers seeking to increase their spheres of influence across multiple dimensions and times; all of these fall into the realm of speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction as a category ranges from ancient works to cutting edge, paradigm-changing, and neotraditional works of the 21st century. It can be recognized in works whose authors' intentions or the social contexts of the versions of stories they portrayed is now known. For example, Ancient Greek dramatists such as Euripides, whose play Medea (play) seemed 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. The play Hippolytus, narratively introduced by Aphrodite, is suspected to have displeased contemporary audiences of the day because it portrayed Phaedra as too lusty.

In historiography, what is now called speculative fiction has previously been termed "historical invention", "historical fiction," and other similar names. It is extensively noted in the literary criticism of the works of William Shakespeare when he co-locates Athenian Duke Theseus and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, English fairy Puck, and Roman god Cupid all together 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.

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Alfred Bester (December 18, 1913 – September 30, 1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. He is best remembered for his science fiction, including The Demolished Man, winner of the inaugural Hugo Award in 1953. Science fiction author Harry Harrison wrote, "Alfred Bester was one of the handful of writers who invented modern science fiction." Read more...

Selected work

The Historian is the 2005 debut novel of American author Elizabeth Kostova. The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. Kostova's father told her stories about Dracula when she was a child, and later in life she was inspired to turn the experience into a novel. She worked on the book for ten years and then sold it within a few months to Little, Brown and Company, which bought it for US$2 million.

The Historian has been described as a combination of genres, including Gothic novel, adventure novel, detective fiction, travelogue, postmodern historical novel, epistolary epic, and historical thriller. Kostova was intent on writing a serious work of literature and saw herself as an inheritor of the Victorian style. Although based in part on Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Historian is not a horror novel, but rather an eerie tale. It is concerned with history's role in society and representation in books, as well as the nature of good and evil. As Kostova explains, "Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history." The evils brought about by religious conflict are a particular theme, and the novel explores the relationship between the Christian West and the Islamic East. (more)

Selected quote


Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), The Liberal Imagination (1950).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

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Mary Gnaedinger continued to reprint work by A. Merritt in the second series of Fantastic Novels. (September 1948 issue pictured)

Fantastic Novels was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published by the Munsey Company of New York from 1940 to 1941, and again by Popular Publications, also of New York, from 1948 to 1951. It was a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Like that magazine, it mostly reprinted science fiction and fantasy classics from earlier decades, such as novels by A. Merritt, George Allan England, and Victor Rousseau, though it occasionally published reprints of more recent work, such as Earth's Last Citadel, by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.

The magazine lasted for 5 issues in its first incarnation, and for another 20 in the revived version from Popular Publications. Mary Gnaedinger edited both series; her interest in reprinting Merritt's work helped make him one of the better-known fantasy writers of the era. A Canadian edition from 1948 to 1951 reprinted 17 issues of the second series; two others were reprinted in Great Britain in 1950 and 1951. Read more...

Selected media

"The Man That Pleased None", from Walter Crane's 1887 illustrated book The Baby's Own Aesop, a collection of Aesop's Fables retold in limerick format.
Credit: Restoration: Lise Broer

"The Man That Pleased None", from Walter Crane's 1887 illustrated book The Baby's Own Aesop, a collection of Aesop's Fables retold in limerick format. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE, and his fables are some of the most well known in the world, remaining a popular choice for moral education of children today. Crane, a member of the Arts and Crafts movement, popularised the child-in-the-garden motifs that would characterise many nursery rhymes and children's stories for decades to come. (POTD)

Did you know...

Nancy Cartwright

On this day...

April 3:

Book releases

Film releases

Television series

Births

Deaths


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:


  • On April 27 of 2,774,020, Murcheson's Eye explodes into a supernova and becomes a black hole.

Upcoming conventions

April:

May:

Dates can usually be found on the article page.


See also these convention lists: anime, comic book, furry, gaming, multigenre, and science fiction.

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