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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 (play) 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

William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction. Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanislaw Lem, C. S. Lewis and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction. The "supermind" composed of many individual consciousnesses forms a recurring theme in his work. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. Freeman Dyson credits the novel with giving him the idea. Last and First Men features early descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming. Sirius describes a dog whose intelligence is increased to the level of a human being's.

Stapledon's fiction often presents the strivings of some intelligence that is beaten down by an indifferent universe and its inhabitants who, through no fault of their own, fail to comprehend its lofty yearnings. It is filled with protagonists who are tormented by the conflict between their "higher" and "lower" impulses.

Last and First Men, a "future history" of 18 successive species of humanity, and Star Maker, an outline history of the Universe, were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, J. B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill (Stapledon maintained a long correspondence with Woolf). In contrast, Stapledon's philosophy repelled C. S. Lewis, whose Cosmic Trilogy was written partly in response to what Lewis saw as amorality, although Lewis admired Stapledon's inventiveness and described him as "a corking good writer".

Selected profile #2

A photograph of Robert E. Howard taken in 1934.
Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is regarded as the father of the Sword and Sorcery genre and he created, amongst other characters, Conan the Cimmerian. Howard created Conan the Barbarian, in the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, a character whose pop-culture imprint has been compared to such icons as Tarzan, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond.

Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in the nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing himself. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was twenty-three. He was published in a wide selection of magazines, journals and newspapers but his main outlet was the pulp magazine Weird Tales.

He was successful in several genres and was on the verge of publishing his first novel when he committed suicide at the age of thirty.

Selected media

Fifth of Henry Holiday's original illustrations to "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll.
Credit: Illustrator: Henry Holiday; Retouched by Adam Cuerden

The fifth of Henry Holiday's original illustrations for "The Hunting of the Snark", a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll in 1874. (CPOTD)

Selected work

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, known in Japan as Castlevania: Akatsuki no Menuett (キャッスルヴァニア ~暁月の円舞曲~, Kyassuruvania Akatsuki no Menuetto, lit. "Castlevania: Minuet of Dawn"), is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. It is part of Konami's Castlevania video game series, and the third installment of the series on the Game Boy Advance. The game was released in North America on May 6, 2003 and released in Japan on May 8, 2003. Although Aria of Sorrow sold poorly in Japan, selling only 27,000 units nearly one month after its release, it was commercially successful in the United States, with more than 158,000 units sold three months following its release.

Aria of Sorrow is set in the year 2035, where Dracula has long been sealed away from a battle in 1999. His powers are to be passed on to his reincarnation. The plot follows the adventures of Soma Cruz, a high school student who is granted powers as a result of Dracula's death, and his battle against those who wish to acquire Dracula's powers.

Aria of Sorrow takes many elements from other Castlevania games, including Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, which was in production at the same time as Aria of Sorrow. The game incorporates the combination of elements from platform and role-playing video games that were initially utilized in the best-selling Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Aria of Sorrow introduces several new features to the series, such as the "Tactical Soul" system and a futuristic storyline, a contrast to the medieval setting of many other Castlevania games. Aria of Sorrow received praise from several video game publications, with many considering it one of the best games in the Castlevania series since Symphony of the Night.

Selected quote


T. O'Conor Sloane (1851–1940), "Discussions" Amazing Stories (January 1927). This quote is notable for being the first "modern use" of the term science fiction.[1]
  1. ^ Westfahl, Gary. Science Fiction Quotations. Yale University Press. 2005.
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

Authentic Science Fiction was a British science fiction magazine published in the 1950s that ran for 85 issues under three editors: Gordon Landsborough, H.J. Campbell, and E.C. Tubb. The magazine was published by Hamilton and Co., and began in 1951 as a series of novels appearing every two weeks; by the summer it had become a monthly magazine, with readers' letters and an editorial page, though fiction content was still restricted to a single novel. In 1952 short fiction began to appear alongside the novels, and within two more years it had completed the transformation into a science fiction magazine.

Authentic published little in the way of important or ground-breaking fiction, though it did print Charles L. Harness's "The Rose," which later became well-regarded. The poor rates of pay—£1 per 1,000 words—prevented the magazine from attracting the best writers. During much of its life it competed against three other moderately successful British science fiction magazines, as well as the American science fiction magazine market. Hamilton folded the magazine in October 1957, because they needed cash to finance an investment in the UK rights to an American best-selling novel.

Did you know...

Nancy Cartwright

On this day...

May 23:

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  • 2007 - Tron Øgrim (b. 1947), a Norwegian journalist, political and science fiction author, and politician


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