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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 (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

James Gunn
James Edwin Gunn (born 1923 in Kansas City, Missouri) is an American science fiction author, editor, scholar, and anthologist. His work from the 1960s and 70s is considered his most significant fiction, and his Road to Science Fiction collections are considered his most important scholarly books. He won a Hugo Award for a non-fiction book in 1983 for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. He has been named the 2007 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Gunn began his career as a science fiction author in 1948. Gunn went on to become a faculty member of the University of Kansas, where he served as the university's director of public relations and as a professor of English, specializing in science fiction and fiction writing. He is now a professor emeritus and director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, which awards the annual John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award at the Campbell Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, every July.

He has had almost 100 stories published in magazines and anthologies and has authored 26 books and edited 10. Many of his stories and books have been reprinted around the world.

Selected profile #2

Honoré de Balzac, by Nadar (1842)
Honoré de Balzac (French pronunciation: ​[ɔnɔʁe də balzak]) (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels, short stories and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

Selected media

"The Man That Pleased None", from Walter Crane's 1887 illustrated book The Baby's Own Aesop, a collection of Aesop's Fables retold in limerick format.
Credit: Restoration: Lise Broer

"The Man That Pleased None", from Walter Crane's 1887 illustrated book The Baby's Own Aesop, a collection of Aesop's Fables retold in limerick format. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE, and his fables are some of the most well known in the world, remaining a popular choice for moral education of children today. Crane, a member of the Arts and Crafts movement, popularised the child-in-the-garden motifs that would characterise many nursery rhymes and children's stories for decades to come. (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


Harry Harrison (b.1925), "The Time of the Other: Alternate History and the Conquest of America" in Strange Horizons (2002).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope (1939), from the original Tom Swift series.
Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm. His adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwriters over the years. Most of the books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton. The 33 volumes of the second series use the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.

The character first appeared in 1910. New titles have been published as recently as 2007. Most of the various series focus on Tom’s inventions, a number of which have anticipated actual inventions. The character has been presented in different ways over the years. In general, the books portray science and technology as wholly beneficial in their effects, and the role of the inventor in society has been treated as admirable and heroic.

Translated into a number of languages, the books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Tom Swift has also been the subject of a board game and a television show. Development of a feature film based on the series was announced in 2008. A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov, have cited "Tom Swift" as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by the fictional inventions.

Did you know...

A top and a ball (both with human facial features) lay among other toys in an illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen's first illustrator.

On this day...

September 26:

Television series

Births

  • 1935 - Juan Zanotto (b. 2005), an Italian-born Argentine comic book artist known for his work as artist of the science fiction comic Bárbara

Deaths


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

Upcoming conventions

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