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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

L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp
Lyon Sprague de Camp (November 27, 1907 – November 6, 2000) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction and biography. In a writing career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and notable works of non-fiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors.De Camp was a materialist who wrote works examining society, history, technology and myth. He published numerous short stories, novels, non-fiction works and poems during his long career.

De Camp had the mind of an educator, and a common theme in many of his works is a corrective impulse regarding similar previous works by other authors. A highly rational and logical thinker, he was frequently disturbed by what he regarded as logical lapses and absurdities in others' writings. Thus, his response to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was to write a similar time travel novel in which the method of time travel was rationalized and the hero's technical expertise both set at a believable level and constrained by the technological limitations of the age.

In like fashion, he reimagined space opera and planetary romances in his "Viagens Interplanetarias" series, and the prehistoric precursor civilizations characteristic of much heroic fantasy in his "Pusadian series." When he was not debunking literary conventions he was often explaining them, as with the early "Harold Shea", stories co-written with Fletcher Pratt, in which the magical premises behind a number of bodies of myths and legends were accepted as a given but examined and elucidated in terms of their own systems of inherent logic. De Camp's explanatory tendency also carried over into his non-fictional writings.

Selected profile #2

Honoré de Balzac, by Nadar (1842)
Honoré de Balzac (French pronunciation: ​[ɔnɔʁe də balzak]) (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels, short stories and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

Selected media

A Midsummer Night's Dream Act IV, scene i
Credit: Artist: Henry Fuseli; Engraver: J.P. Simon
Restoration: Lise Broer

An engraving of William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, depicting Titania and Bottom, with fairies in attendance. The play portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta, both figures of Greek mythology, and the actions of fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. It is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is still widely performed today. (POTD)

Selected work

First edition (1897) cover of The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H.G. Wells published in 1897. Wells' novel was originally serialised in Pearson's Magazine in 1898, and published as a novel the same year. The Invisible Man of the title is Griffin, a scientist who theorises that if a person's refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible. He successfully carries out this procedure on himself, but cannot become visible again, becoming mentally unstable as a result.

Russian writer Yakov I. Perelman pointed out in Physics Can Be Fun (1913) that from a scientific point of view, a man made invisible by Griffin's method should have been blind, since a human eye works by absorbing incoming light, not letting it through completely. However, Wells briefly addresses this in Chapter 20. In the passage describing the experiment on the invisible cat Wells wrote "there remained two little ghosts of her eyes" meaning that its eyes (and retinas presumably) were just visible, and thus able to function by absorbing light.

Selected quote


Kim Stanley Robinson (b. 1952), Interview, Locus (September 1997).[1]
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

Ace Books is the oldest active specialty publisher of science fiction and fantasy books. The company was founded in New York City in 1952 by Aaron A. Wyn, and began as a genre publisher of mysteries and westerns. It soon branched out into other genres, publishing its first science fiction (sf) title in 1953; this was a successful innovation, and within a few years, sf titles outnumbered both mysteries and westerns. Today, Ace-published novels have won or been nominated for 93 major science fiction and fantasy awards. Other genres also made an appearance, including nonfiction, gothic novels, media tie-in novelizations, and romances.

Ace became known for the tête-bêche binding format used for many of its early books, although it did not originate the format. Most of the early titles were published in this "Ace Double" format, and Ace continued to issue books in varied genres, bound tête-bêche, until 1973. These have proved attractive to book collectors, and some rare titles in mint condition command prices up to $1,000.

Ace, along with Ballantine Books, was one of the leading S.F. publishers for its first ten years. With the death of owner A. A. Wyn in 1967, however, the company's fortunes began to decline. Two prominent editors, Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, left in 1971, and in 1972 Ace was sold to Grosset & Dunlap. Despite financial troubles, there were further successes, particularly with the third Ace Science Fiction Specials series, for which Carr was the editor. Further mergers and acquisitions resulted in the company becoming a part of Berkley Books. Ace then became an imprint (trade name) of Penguin Group (USA); its editorial team is also responsible for the Roc Books imprint, although the two imprints maintain a separate identity.

Did you know...

Marie Taglioni

On this day...

June 25:

Film releases


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • Doraemon is born on September 3, 2112.
  • 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.

Upcoming conventions

June:


July:

 

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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