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

Portrait of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.

Selected profile #2

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 media

Illustration by Édouard Manet for a French translation by Stéphane Mallarmé of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". Part 2 of 4 full page plates.
Credit: Édouard Manet (illustration), Durova (restoration)

Illustration by Édouard Manet for a French translation by Stéphane Mallarmé of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". Part 2 of 4 full page plates.

Selected work

Bride of Frankenstein (advertised as The Bride of Frankenstein) is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to the influential Frankenstein (1931). Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Septimus Pretorius.

The film follows on immediately from the events of the first film, and is rooted in a subplot of the original novel, Frankenstein (1818). In the film, a chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry's old mentor Dr Pretorius, into constructing a mate for him. The Bride rejects the Monster however, resulting in her death, that of Pretorius, and apparently the Monster's own death, when he destroys Henry's laboratory.

Preparation began shortly after the first film premiered, but script problems delayed the project. Principal photography started in January 1935, with creative personnel from the original returning in front of and behind the camera. Bride of Frankenstein was released to critical and popular acclaim, although it encountered difficulties with some state and national censorship boards. Since its release the film's reputation has grown, and it is hailed as Whale's masterpiece. Modern film scholars, noting Whale's homosexuality and that of others involved in the production, have found a gay sensibility in the film, although a number of Whale's associates have dismissed the idea.

Selected quote


—Harold C. Deutsch (1904-1995), Introduction, What If? Strategic Alternatives of WWII (December 1997).
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...

Hans Christian Andersen

  • ... that before beginning a career in animation, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh worked as a vice president of sales and marketing for a computer company, where he "freaked out" and decided to quit?

On this day...

March 25:

Film releases

Television series


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.
  • In the year 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 (500 quintillion), the last descendants of humanity make some changes to our near present in order to release the universe's vacuum energy, spawn new universes, and avoid letting the Big Freeze from happening.

Upcoming conventions

March:


April:

 

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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