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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

Stephenson at Science Foo Camp 2008
Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer known for his speculative fiction works, which have been variously categorized as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk. He has also written with his uncle, George Jewsbury ("J. Frederick George"), under the collective pseudonym of Stephen Bury.

Stephenson explores areas such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system.

In his earlier novels Stephenson deals heavily in pop culture-laden metaphors and imagery, and in quick, hip dialogue, as well as in extended narrative monologues. The tone of his books is generally more irreverent and less self-serious than that of previous cyberpunk novels, notably those of William Gibson.

Stephenson's books tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time. This distinguishes him from other mainstream science fiction authors who tend to focus on a few technological or social changes in isolation from others. The discursive nature of his writing, together with significant plot and character complexity and an abundance of detail suggests a baroque writing style, which Stephenson brought fully to bear in the three-volume Baroque Cycle.

Selected profile #2

Twain on February 7, 1871
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), well-known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Twain is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), which has been called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He is extensively quoted. Twain was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

Twain was very popular, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned praise from critics and peers. Upon his death he was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature". His book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court features a time traveler from contemporary America, using his knowledge of science to introduce modern technology to Arthurian England. This type of storyline would later become a common feature of the science fiction subgenre, Alternate history. Other of his works also contained elements which fall into the genre of science fiction or fantasy, including Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven, Letters from the Earth (a short story collection published posthumously), The Mysterious Stranger (an unfinished work published posthumously), and A Dog's Tale.

Selected media

La Catrina
Credit: Photo credit: Tomas Castelazo

Two Catrina figurines, approximately 38 cm (15 in) tall in the City Museum of León, Guanajuato, Mexico. Popularized by José Guadalupe Posada, the Catrina is the skeleton of an upper class woman and one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations, which occur across two days, on November 1–2, corresponding with the Catholic holy days of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. It has its origins in an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, which is represented by the Catrina. (POTD)

Selected work

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, also known as The Simpsons Halloween episodes, are a series of episodes in the animated series The Simpsons. They are Halloween specials, each consisting of three separate, self-contained segments. These segments usually involve the Simpson family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting. They take place outside the show's normal continuity and completely abandon any pretense of being realistic. The first, entitled "Treehouse of Horror", aired on October 25, 1990, as part of the second season and was inspired by EC Comics horror tales. The episodes are known for being far more violent and much darker than an average Simpsons episode. As of 2009, there are 20 Treehouse of Horror episodes, with one airing every year, and the newest episode, "Treehouse of Horror XX", premiered on October 18, 2009.

Episodes contain several trademarks, including the alien characters Kang and Kodos, "scary names" in the credits, a special version of the opening sequence, and parodies of horror, science fiction and fantasy films. The show's staff regard the Treehouse of Horror as being particularly difficult to produce as the scripts often go through many rewrites, and the animators typically have to design new characters and backgrounds.

Selected quote


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

Selected article

The iCub robot at the Genoa Science Festival in 2009
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three science fiction laws written by Isaac Asimov, which most robots appearing in his fiction have to obey. First introduced in his short story "Runaround" (1942), they state the following:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Three Laws are an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's fiction, appearing in the Foundation series and the other stories linked to it, as well as Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them, and references (often parodic) appear throughout science fiction and in other genres. Technologists in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create real machines with some of the properties of Asimov's robots, have speculated upon the role the Three Laws play in such research.

Did you know...

Owl Island from The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

  • ... that the Saw series has grossed more than one billion dollars, making it one of the highest-grossing fright franchises ever?

On this day...

Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • A geological survey on Zeta Minor is almost annihilated by anti-matter creatures in 37166.

Upcoming conventions

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January:

 

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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