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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

Aldiss at Interaction in Glasgow, 2005
Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (born 18 August 1925) is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He is also (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. His writings have been compared to those of Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear and Arthur C. Clarke. His influential works include the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long", the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

In 1955, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500, which Aldiss won with a story entitled "Not For An Age". The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing that they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel was published. By this time, his earnings from writing equalled the wages he got in the bookshop, so he made the decision to become a full-time writer.

Selected profile #2

Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. Poe's publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced.

Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today.

Selected media

"He met with a severe fall" from Wallace Goldsmith's illustrations to Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost.
Credit: Artist: Wallace Goldsmith; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

A scene from "The Canterville Ghost", Oscar Wilde's first published story, which is about an American family that moves into a haunted house in England. However, instead of being frightened of the eponymous ghost, they turn the tables and prank him, such as in this scene, where the twin boys have set up a butter-slide, causing the ghost to slip down the staircase. The story satirises both the unrefined tastes of Americans and the determination of the British to guard their traditions. (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


Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), "Introduction" in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories (1956).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

May 1955 issue of If; the cover is by Kenneth Fagg
If was an American science fiction magazine launched in March 1952 by Quinn Publications, owned by James L. Quinn. Quinn hired Paul W. Fairman to be the first editor, but early circulation figures were disappointing, and Quinn fired Fairman after only three issues. Quinn then took over the editorial position himself. He stayed in that role until late 1958, though Larry T. Shaw took over most editorial duties for a year from mid-1953. In 1958 Damon Knight was hired as editor, but within three issues Quinn sold the magazine to Robert Guinn at Galaxy Publishing.

The new editor at Galaxy Publishing was Horace L. Gold, who was also editing Galaxy Science Fiction. After two years Frederik Pohl took over as editor, and it was under Pohl that If reached its greatest success, winning the Hugo Award for best professional magazine three years running from 1966 to 1968. In 1969 Guinn sold all his magazines to Universal Publishing and Distribution (UPD). Pohl decided not to continue as editor as he wanted to return to his writing career. Ejler Jakobsson became editor; the magazine was not successful under his management and circulation plummeted. In early 1974 Jim Baen took over from Jakobsson as editor, but increasing paper costs meant that UPD could no longer afford to publish both Galaxy and If. Galaxy was regarded as the senior of the two magazines, so If was merged into Galaxy after the December 1974 issue, its 175th issue overall.

Did you know...

Portrait of ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre

On this day...

September 19:

Television series

Births


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • Jenny, the daughter of the Doctor, is born on July 24, 6012 on the planet Messaline.
  • A geological survey on Zeta Minor is almost annihilated by anti-matter creatures in 37166.

Upcoming conventions

September:


October:

 

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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