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Speculative Fiction

What is Speculative Fiction?

Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term that incorporates Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Speculative Fiction is also a friendly term that gives a home to works that don't fall into these categories, but still have a weird or amazing feel to them.

As a term Speculative Fiction was developed to distinguish some writers and their works from the less literary "flying saucer" Sci Fi or to overcome the limits of Sci Fi. Speculative Fiction is an immensely useful term where a growing number of writers produce works that draw from multiple sub-genres. In a very general sense, the goal

of Speculative Fiction is to open up the mind of the reader and engage with ideas and meaning. It offers the reader a story composed of a world with familiar things, but also something unfamiliar. It is an imaginative world, linked to reality but beyond reality, that might have been if something were altered just a bit. This something can be just about anything from scientific principles to gender identity.

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Other Features of Speculative Fiction

  • Level of Real Science

    Variable. Hard Sci Fi writers can write Speculative Fiction and so can Fantasy writers, so scientific realness in Speculative Fiction spans the whole spectrum.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    High. Speculative Fiction is a kind of "What if?" story and has a tendency to engage with grand questions about the universe, humanity, and society.

  • Level of Characterization

    Moderate-High. Speculative Fiction is full of unfamiliar settings so characterization is important to grounding readers in the story and allowing readers to fully experience whatever may be strange, weird, or unfamiliar about the world. While developed characters are necessary, characters are not frequently a story's driving force.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Moderate-High. Compelling and intriguing plots are ubiquitous in Speculative Fiction. Indeed, the sense of being on the edge is common in order to keep readers engaged and pondering possibilities not just about events, but ideas.

  • Level of Violence

    Variable. There is a whole spectrum of violence from apocalyptic events that wipe out most of the population to blissful utopian cities where violence has been eliminated--all of which are included in Speculative Fiction.

Related Science Fiction subgenres




    Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. A speculation on what the world and human society be like should a cataclysmic event end life as we know it.

  • Steampunk. A retro-version of Speculative Fiction where steam technology is the jumping off point.

  • Alternate History. Alternate History is a speculation on what if, insert a historical event, happened differently or not at all.

  • Slipstream. Slipstream takes the weird/strange/amazing feeling of Speculative Fiction to new heights. All of them. Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term and a Speculative Fiction story may borrow characteristics from any sub-genre Sci Fi or not.

Speculative Fiction isn't for you if...

If you don't like to read fiction. The body of Speculative Fiction work is expansive so chances are, you will be able to find something to enjoy.

Popular Speculative Fiction