We Rep [Ideas]

Encountering Speculative Fiction

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I was given a book a while back and always assumed it to be a collection of science fiction shorts. Tesseracts 10. Intending on reading it, I put it in cue. Now, months later I realize it is a collection of ‘Speculative Fiction‘. According to the Speculative Literature Foundation:

“Speculative literature is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — and more.”

And more? So we look on. Wikipedia runs a laundry list:

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term 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.

I find these debates and dialogues interesting – where clashing definitions and logic work to negotiate the borders that classify and redefine ‘notions’ – in this case – within literature, namely fiction. The institutionalization of the speculative fiction further works to validate, legitimize and reinforce the ‘classification.’ A notable outcome of this formal ‘synthesis of speculative genres’ is in its ‘accumulation’ of – Time. While unifying the fantastic and the speculative, Speculative Fiction does not discriminate against – pasts, present/s or futures.

The special attention on: Hypothetical History, Ahistorical Storytelling , Historical Invention, Historical Fiction, Future History and as previously mentioned, Alternate History – suggests Speculative Fiction, might use its atemporality to separate itself from the more widely known science fiction – while retaining the descriptor: ‘a literature of ideas.’

I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of Intuition and Speculation in Foresight – the ‘informed’ speculation on topics, forces and dynamics at play. One definition of speculations is “To meditate on a subject; reflect.” other is “To engage in a course of reasoning often based on inconclusive evidence.” We are always working from a position of incomplete information. Confident speculation is a particularly important tool for anticipatory thought, when carefully paired with a controlled suspension of disbelief. I look forward to devouring this book.


Written by rthomas

July 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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