Talk:Speculative fiction

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Not all correct[edit]

Not everything stated in this definition is correct.—Preceding unsigned comment added by 2005-05-09T17:38:49. (talk) (talk)

Please define and describe what you see as wrong - otherwise why should your comment be considered?—Preceding unsigned comment added by Jackiespeel (talkcontribs) 2005-08-11T10:05:19

Examples of Speculative Fiction[edit]

I'm still a little confused what speculative fiction is and it would help greatly if this article gave examples of known books in this particular literary genre. It might help if someone can add a list of novels that are considered speculative fiction. Thanks! -User:noneforall —Preceding comment was added at 23:22, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Another Major Sub-genre Should Be Included[edit]

I believe that Mystery should be included with the four other genres of speculative fiction. Because speculative fiction really hinges off what Professor Darko Suvin called the "novum." The novum is the agent of change which makes the "what if" question of any story possible. So the novum can be a change of character or location which will facilitate the story to proceed. The way the novum is handled in the story will define what kind of fiction the reader is encountering. Science fiction is where the novum is defined and logically explained from a known point of technology down to a new technology. Alternateive History (fiction) could be said to be a sub-set of science fiction. Fantasy is where the novum is not explained. Horror is where the novum is unknowable or the mind believes the novum could be destructive to the self if the novum were to be known. Finally, mystery should be included because it is a case of the novum, once known is realized not to be a novum. (For example consider “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Speckled Band: Something is killing people, we don’t know what it is—oh, it’s a snake.) Perhaps a link to a site on the novum, referencing Metamorphoses of Science Fiction by Darko Suvin. Particularly pay attention to the fourth chapter titled "SF and the novum."

Mason 22:49, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Mason Emerson

Technically, "speculative fiction" is redundant since all fiction speculates to some degree. However, "speculative fiction," as used today, doesn't refer to mystery unless there is some sort of fantastical or futuristic element involved. --nihon 19:34, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I think it's an interesting point, though certainly debatable. Since you've cited a reference, I would go ahead and put a section in the article relating to this matter. Just make sure you cite it as one theory/approach to the definition of SF. Orange ginger (talk) 11:47, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Rewritten to go with the new science fiction scope section[edit]

I have completely rewritten this entry. It was thin, tendentious, and historically naive — rather obviously written by a "speculative fiction" partisan with an ax to grind.

Esr 07:12, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Looks like someone thought it was "vandalism"... Scix 19:12, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

It wasn't and I reverted. Please do not throw that word around to revert based on a pure content dispute. It's not helpful. Just discuss it here. We can all get along.Gator (talk) 19:20, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with many of the new assumptions in the article. I know many fans ("serious" and not as serious) that have no problem with the phrase "speculative fiction" and frequently use it. How do you know Heinlein coined the term? How do we know Ellison was the main force behind this "New Wave" to which you refer? Calling anyone who uses the term a "partisan" is putting a rather narrow-minded and ugly label on them, too. Just because someone prefers one term over another doesn't make them a partisan. It seems to be mostly a personal preference as most of the people I know will use "science fiction" when referring specifically to science fiction, "fantasy" when referring to fantasy, "horror" when referring to horror, and "speculative fiction" when referring to all forms of the genre. Do you have some references to support these new theories, or are you just speculating yourself? --nihon 19:31, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Okay, so instead of a revert-war, discuss, and have the article reflect the best information form all sides. Scix 19:55, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
What revert war? I don't think one reversion makes it into a war. --nihon 18:39, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
Of course not -- I was pre-emptively suggesting Scix 20:56, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
I strongly agree with nihon and strongly disagree with several of the article's current statements. Plenty of people in the science fiction/speculative fiction world (including readers, authors, and editors) use the term "speculative fiction" as a convenient general catch-all term inclusive of science fiction and fantasy, with no partisanship or political axe to grind. The sentence that used to make this point was removed in ESR's rewrite; I hope to reinstate something like that sentence to the article, along with some further discussion of the issue.
I gather that ESR is right that Heinlein coined the term, btw; however, the term is not limited to the uses suggested by the current version of the article. ...Here's a quote from the introduction to Samuel R. Delany's 1977 book of critical essays The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: "[The term 'speculative fiction'], roughly between 1964 and 1972, was an active term among a number of science fiction writers (borrowed, in some cases unknowingly, from Heinlein a decade and a half earlier) in their talk with one another about what they and a number of other writers were doing. Since then, it has by and large passed out of the talk of these same writers, except as a historical reference." (I believe Delany was one of the writers who used the term during that period.) My point being that the use of terms changes over time and across groups; the term "speculative fiction" has been used in at least three different periods and contexts (Heinlein, New Wave, and today), and the fact that it may once have been used politically by New Wave advocates does not mean it can't be used in any other way today by other people.
I do agree with ESR that the previous version of the article was politically slanted, and I applaud his intent in rewriting it. However, the resulting article is now significantly slanted in the opposite direction. Let's try and find some objective middle ground, talking about how the term is used rather than what we think of the political stances of those who use it. We can certainly say that the term has been used politically; it has. But let's not say that that's the only way it's used. --Elysdir 00:11, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I've done another rewrite. In the new version, I've edited heavily for NPOV, and added some facts (including specific citations about the first uses of the term). The new version is far from perfect, but I think it's more accurate and more NPOV than either of the previous two major versions. If you disagree, of course, feel free to do further revision. --Elysdir 00:57, 31 December 2005 (UTC)


This term has been used in the writing biz for years, I don't see how it can be called a neologism. I'll remove it from that category. If you disagree, please explain here and inform me on my talk page. - Mgm|(talk) 10:50, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Failed history and speculative fiction[edit]

I have created Failed history - the factual equivalent of speculative fiction. Additional information (including for the section headed Science Fiction) welcome. Jackiespeel 16:21, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

German Egotism?[edit]

"The term was mildly publicised by the famed writer Gunter Habenstein in the late 1980s. Recently, playwrights such as Donald Argenburger and Friedich Babenzen have also used the term. Many prominent theorists suggest that this trend is a type of German Egotism, however that is still up for debate. See Germany and Policy for more information." This paragraph seems out of place. What theorists? What do they mean by "German Egotism"? Why the pointless link to Germany and Policy? And who cares? I suggest this paragraph should be deleted if it can't be made more substantial and pertinent. Trinite 05:35, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

I came here to the talk page to express exactly the same concern. Since that makes two of us, I've removed it. (It's uncited, makes no sense ("speculative fiction" "German Egotism" on Google leads here and nowhere else, and it's an anon IP's only edit -- I rather suspect it's a "how long does false info stay in Wikipedia?" test.) If anyone can explain a) what it's all about and b) how it's relevant, please enlighten us! --Bth 11:59, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Sources Needed[edit]

Someone needs to find some academic sources on this subject and cite them. This is all just pulled out of thin air. That's not to say it isn't true, but...

Perhaps I'll be one to do it.Orange ginger 20:52, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

This article does seem to be something that someone just made up. As far as I can tell, by this definition, any kind of fiction is "speculative fiction", which is true in the absolute sense, but useless as a practical definition. AFAIK, in the real world "speculative fiction" still refers to science fiction.
Unless someone can provide a lot of real world citations for this new broad meaning of speculative fiction, I propose this article be junked. - (talk) 06:23, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Other inclusions?[edit]

While not generally considered a part of Spec. Fic., Hist. Fic. is really a type of spec. fic.—alternate reality history isn't all that far a cry from normal historical fiction (well, depending on the book in question)… perhaps something about the link should be mentioned in this article?

Also, some "literature" which is neither Fantasy nor Sci-Fi should fall under Spec. Fic. For example, Lord of the Flies seems clearly Spec. Fic. to me, though it doesn't necessarily fall under any of the genres mentioned. The Jade Knight 11:59, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

That's not the way the word is generally used, so unless you have a source, it doesn't belong in the article. The term usually refers to stories with elements contrary to known reality. Straightforward historical fiction doesn't count, because it presents history as it actually happened. As for Lord of the Flies, I haven't read it in a long time, but I don't remember it having any sci-fi or fantasy or otherwise contrary-to-known-reality elements. marbeh raglaim (talk) 20:49, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the current article is not based on verifiable references that could help clarify if there is a dividing line between "speculative fiction," fiction that is speculative, and if so, how that line gets defined. Jade does have a point in that alternative history could qualify as speculative fiction. For example, if someone wrote an alternative history where Abraham Lincoln survives the 1965 assassination attempt is that "speculative fiction" because it's "contrary to known reality" where President Lincoln was killed?
Jade sees the Lord of the Flies as "clearly Spec. Fic." I would disagree as the story is not set in a particular year (there's no divergence from documented history) and it's entirely possible that an aircraft could crash with the only survivors being a group of school age boys. Obviously here we are dealing with a difference of opinion but unfortunately, I can't think of how to improve the article to help resolve that difference.
My World Book Dictionary (1987 edition) does not have an entry for "speculative fiction." However, its definition of science fiction includes "... combines science and fantasy." I believe the word "fantasy" is an important component with respect to its use as "product of the imagination" but unfortunately the train of definitions gets circular as I try to separate "fiction" from "speculative fiction." Marc Kupper (talk) (contribs) 23:26, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I was not disputing that alternate histories are a form of speculative fiction. Of course they are. That point is uncontroversial as far as I'm aware. But straight historical fiction is not.
I've been an avid reader of speculative fiction since I was a kid, and I've also read many essays discussing and defining the concept. The most helpful source I have currently is Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, which I may use to enhance the article.
The average person tends to use the term "science fiction" to mean what insiders and fans call speculative fiction. That's the way bookstores label it; you'll find Tolkien and other fantasists in the science fiction section. On the other hand, there are forms of speculative fiction that typically don't get put in this section, such as horror. marbeh raglaim (talk) 03:32, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Moved from intro to talk[edit]

I moved this from the article to talk:

"Speculative fiction, however, tends to refer to writing that remains in the realm of plausibility. Such ideas as dragons, warp-drive engines, time-travel, and other drastic departures from our physical world, are generally not present in what can be called speculative fiction. Many works are dystopian."

While the entire article has major issues, these sentences appear to advance a very specific opinion and contradict other more generalized parts of the article. Specifically it contradicts some of the few semi-supported claims in the article below. If it is a well-recognized opinion represented in secondary sources, it can be included, as should all such opinions. —siroχo 23:44, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Magic realism in speculative fiction?[edit]

I don't think that magic realism belongs in speculative fiction. It isn't speculating anything, doesn't present any ideas of "what if?". Instead it just reflects the world, and the different ways of viewing the real world. (talk) 06:01, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

as far as i can tell magic realism is just a fancy word for low fantasy. -- (talk) 05:12, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Data point/quote[edit]

This is a little flimsy as a citation, but I figured it was worth recording. In Lester del Rey's 1964 science fiction story "Vengeance Is Mine," a robot reading through a library discovers the difference between fact and fiction by means of a disclaimer in a book, which reads: "THIS IS A WORK OF SPECULATIVE FICTION; ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PRESENT-DAY PERSONS OR EVENTS IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL." (That sentence is in all-caps in the story.) From internal evidence in the story, especially a comment about fact and fiction a couple of paragraphs later, it's clear that the work in question is not a confusing or difficult work of serious literature. Hard to be certain with so little further information, but my guess is that del Rey intended the term in this context as a synonym for "science fiction." This comment I'm posting doesn't contradict anything in this Wikipedia article, and doesn't call for any action on anyone's part; I'm providing it just as one more data point among several in the process of figuring out what the term has meant to its users at various times. --Elysdir (talk) 18:21, 3 February 2009 (UTC)


I may have messed something up with cited content, but to be blunt, that paragraph is some of the most convoluted writing I've ever read. It took three times reading it just to figure out what it meant. The second sentence is ridiculously long, split up by semicolons and commas, and should be made into at least three sentences. Sorry, but convoluted writing is bad writing. I'm not going to undo your undo, because someone else will undo that, but someone needs to fix it, or rewrite it, or something. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


In the intro, what does the second half of this sentence mean?

The popularity of the term is sometimes attributed to Robert Heinlein, who referenced it in 1947 in an editorial essay, although there are instances of speculative fiction, or its variant ‘speculative literature’.

It doesn't relate to the first half. Did it intend to say that the term was used prior to Heinlein, or something?? (E.g. 'although there are earlier references to...') (talk) 10:11, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes it did. The mistake happened in this edit. I fixed it. --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 14:32, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Citation Needed: Speculative Fiction Genres[edit]

This table seems put together with an "everybody knows" mindset. My contention is that "everybody" doesn't agree, including the people cited. Dividing possible outcomes into Dystopian or Utopian, for example, doesn't make sense to me.

It must be/is(?) agreed that "all" science fiction falls under speculative fiction. SF author James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon), said that science fiction is really about *people*. It shows how they act based on a supposition: take one "what if?" question, such as "what if a high schooler could visit their future life?", and write what they would do, how it affects people's lives and civilization. The supposition may be a "scientific" change, but people are the real focus.

I'm blathering. My gripe is that the "divisions" in the table are arbitrary and uncited, and if there is not a "consensus" in the industry then it shouldn't be presented as a "factual" table. Any more than it would be appropriate to present a table showing why Oswald didn't kill Kennedy.Ukrpickaxe (talk) 21:58, 10 June 2016 (UTC)