Portal:Speculative fiction

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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 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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Selected profile #1

Judy-Lynn and Lester del Rey at Minicon 8 in 1974
Lester del Rey (June 2, 1915 – May 10, 1993) was an American science fiction author and editor. Del Rey is especially famous for his juvenile novels such as those in the Winston Science Fiction series, and for Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction branch of Ballantine Books edited by Lester del Rey and his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey.

Del Rey first started publishing stories in pulp magazines in the late 1930s, at the dawn of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. He was closely associated with the leading science fiction magazine of the era, Astounding Science Fiction, and its editor, John W. Campbell, Jr. In the 1950s, del Rey was one of the three leading science fiction writers writing for adolescents along with Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton. During this time some of his fiction was published under the name "Erik van Lhin".

He later made his way into editing for several pulp magazines and then for book publishers. In 1952 and 1953, del Rey edited Space SF, Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction Adventures (as Philip St. John), Rocket Stories (as Wade Kaempfert), and Fantasy Fiction (as Cameron Hall). He was most successful editing for Ballantine Books with his final wife, Judy-Lynn del Rey, and founded a popular science fiction imprint with her at Ballantine, Del Rey Books, in 1977.

Selected profile #2

Heinlein signing autographs at the 1976 Worldcon
Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of the genre. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was one of the first writers to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s, with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era. For many years, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.

Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought. He also examined the relationship between physical and emotional love, explored various unorthodox family structures, and speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land put him in the unexpected role of a pied piper of the sexual revolution, and of the counterculture, and through this book he was credited with popularizing the notion of polyamory.

Selected media

Titans and giants in Hell
Credit: Artist: Gustave Doré; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

Titans and giants imprisoned in Hell, in this engraving by Gustave Doré that accompanied Canto XXXI of an 1890 publication of Dante Alighieri's Inferno. The titan on the left is Ephialtes, a son of Poseidon. In Dante's Divine Comedy, he is one of four giants placed in the great pit that separates Dis from Cocytus, the Ninth Circle of Hell. (POTD)

Selected work

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a controversial exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato from a screenplay by Gianfranco Clerici. Filmed in the Amazon Rainforest, the movie tells the story of four documentarians who journey deep into the jungle to film indigenous tribes. Two months later, after they fail to return, famous anthropologist Harold Monroe travels on a rescue mission to find the group. Eventually, he recovers and views their lost cans of film, which reveal the missing filmmakers' fate. The film stars Robert Kerman as Monroe, Carl Gabriel Yorke as director Alan Yates, Francesca Ciardi as Alan's girlfriend Faye, Perry Pirkanen as cameraman Jack Anders, and Luca Barbareschi as fellow cameraman Mark Tomaso.

Cannibal Holocaust is a well known exploitation film because of the controversy following its release. After premiering in Italy, the film was seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was later accused of making a snuff film due to rumors which claimed that certain actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared of these charges, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries due to its graphic depiction of gore, sexual violence, and the inclusion of six genuine animal deaths. Many nations have since revoked the ban, yet the film is still barred in several countries. This notoriety notwithstanding, some critics view Cannibal Holocaust as a social commentary about civilized society.

Selected quote


—William Wilson, A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject, chapter 10 (1851). This is the first recorded use of the term science fiction in history.[1]
  1. ^ Westfahl, Gary. Science Fiction Quotations. Yale University Press. 2005.


More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history


Selected article

Cover of July 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction
Beyond Fantasy Fiction was a US fantasy fiction magazine edited by H. L. Gold, with only ten issues published from 1953 to 1955. The last two issues carried the cover title of Beyond Fiction, but the publication's name for copyright purposes remained as before.

Although not a commercial success, it included several significant short stories by distinguished authors, such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick. The publication has been described by critics as a successor to the tradition of Unknown, a fantasy magazine that ceased publication in 1943. It was noted for printing fantasy with a rational basis such as werewolf stories that included scientific explanations. A selection of stories from Beyond was published in paperback form in 1963, also under the title Beyond.

James Gunn, a historian of science fiction, regarded the magazine as the best of the fantasy magazines launched in the early 1950s, and science fiction encyclopedist Donald H. Tuck contended it printed very good material. Not every critic viewed Beyond as completely successful, however; P. Schuyler Miller, in a 1963 review, commented that the stories were most successful when they did not try to emulate Unknown.

Did you know...

The Death of Procris

  • ... that the Saw series has grossed more than one billion dollars, making it one of the highest-grossing fright franchises ever?
  • ... the Halloween genes include spook, spookier, phantom, disembodied, shadow and shade?

On this day...

September 18:

Television series

Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • In 5000, the Filipino Army defeats the Alliance at the Battle of Reykjavik during the closing stages of World War V.
  • In 802,701, The Time Traveller encounters a garden world and sees Humanity has divided into the meek Eloi on the surface and the subdwelling, cannibalistic Morlocks.



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

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