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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

Roger Joseph Zelazny (May 13, 1937 – June 14, 1995) was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times (out of 14 nominations) and the Hugo award six times (also out of 14 nominations), including two Hugos for novels: the serialized novel ...And Call Me Conrad (1965; subsequently published under the title This Immortal, 1966) and then the novel Lord of Light (1967). The ostracod Sclerocypris zelaznyi was named after him.

His first fanzine appearance was part one of the story "Conditional Benefit" (Thurban 1 #3, 1953) and his first professional publication and sale was the fantasy short story "Mr. Fuller's Revolt" (Literary Calvalcade, 1954). As a professional writer, his debut works were the simultaneous publication of "Passion Play" (Amazing, August 1962) and "Horseman!" (Fantastic, August 1962). "Passion Play" was written and sold first. His first story to attract major attention was "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with cover art by Hannes Bok.

Roger Zelazny was also a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, some of whose works were anthologized in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies.

Selected profile #2

Dickens ca.1867-1868
Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and one of the most popular of all time, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters. Many of his novels, with their recurrent theme of social reform, first appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialized. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next instalment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print. His work has been praised for its mastery of prose and unique personalities by writers such as George Gissing and G. K. Chesterton, though the same characteristics prompted others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, to criticise him for sentimentality and implausibility.

While much of his work was considered mainstream fiction, he wrote several well-known genre pieces, including A Christmas Carol, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, and the collaborative story The Haunted House.

Selected media

Credit: Creators: Winsor McCay, John McCay, John Fitzsimmons.

The Centaurs was an animated film produced by Winsor McCay between 1918 and 1921. There is no record that the film was completed or publicly screened. The film was destroyed by negligent storage that allowed the sole surviving nitrate film print to deteriorate into dust. All that remains are isolated fragments that total approximately 90 seconds.

Selected work

"Harap Alb" or "Harap-Alb" (Romanian pronunciation: [haˈrap ˈalb]), known in full as Povestea lui Harap Alb ("The Story of Harap Alb"), is a Romanian-language fairy tale. Based on traditional themes found in Romanian folklore, it was recorded and reworked in 1877 by writer Ion Creangă, becoming one of his main contributions to fantasy and Romanian literature. The narrative centers on an eponymous prince traveling into a faraway land whose throne he has inherited, showing him being made into a slave by the treacherous Bald Man and eventually redeeming himself through acts of bravery. The plot introduces intricate symbolism, notably illustrated by the secondary characters. Among these are the helpful and sage old woman Holy Sunday, the tyrannical Red Emperor, and a band of five monstrous characters who provide the prince with serendipitous assistance.

An influential work, "Harap Alb" received much attention from Creangă's critical posterity, and became the inspiration for contributions in several fields. These include Ion Popescu-Gopo's film De-aş fi Harap Alb, a Postmodernist novel by Stelian Ţurlea and a comic book by Sandu Florea, alongside one of Gabriel Liiceanu's theses in the field of political philosophy.

Selected quote


Vernor Vinge (b.1944), "The Coming Technological Singularity" (1993).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

Amazing Stories, April 1926. Volume 1, Number 1
Amazing Stories was an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Before Amazing, science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

Amazing was published, with some interruptions, for almost eighty years. The title first changed hands in 1929, when Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine. Amazing became unprofitable during the 1930s and in 1938 was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing began to print stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos which explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named "deros"; the stories were presented as fact, and led to dramatically increased circulation but also widespread ridicule.

Palmer was replaced by Howard Browne in 1949, who briefly entertained plans of taking Amazing upmarket. These plans came to nothing, though Amazing did switch to a digest format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. A brief period under the editorship of Paul W. Fairman was followed, at the end of 1958, by the leadership of Cele Goldsmith. Despite her lack of experience she was able to bring new life to the magazine, and her years are regarded as one of Amazing's most creative eras. She was unable to arrest the declining circulation, though, and the magazine was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965.

Did you know...

Thrill the World 2008 in Austin, Texas

On this day...

June 18:

Film releases

Television series

Deaths

  • 1988 - E. Hoffmann Price (b. 1898), an American writer of popular fiction for the pulp magazine marketplace

Anniversaries and events

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.
  • The planet Rubi-Ka is discovered in 28702 by the Omni-Tek Corporation.

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June:


July:

 

Dates can usually be found on the article page.


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