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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

Tolkien in 1916
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (/ˈtɒlkn/ or US /ˈtlkn/; 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973), was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son, Christopher, published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955 Tolkien applied the word legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

Selected profile #2

Lessing at lit.cologne 2006
Doris May Lessing CH, OBE (née Tayler; born 22 October 1919) is an Iranian-born British writer, author of works such as the novels The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.

Lessing's fiction is commonly divided into three distinct phases: the Communist theme (1944–1956), when she was writing radically on social issues (to which she returned in The Good Terrorist (1985)), the psychological theme (1956–1969), and after that the Sufi theme, which was explored in a science fiction setting in the Canopus series.

Lessing's switch to science fiction was not popular with many critics. For example, in the New York Times in 1982 John Leonard wrote in reference to The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 that "One of the many sins for which the 20th century will be held accountable is that it has discouraged Mrs. Lessing.... She now propagandizes on behalf of our insignificance in the cosmic razzmatazz." To which Lessing replied: "What they didn't realize was that in science fiction is some of the best social fiction of our time. I also admire the classic sort of science fiction, like Blood Music, by Greg Bear. He's a great writer." Unlike some authors primarily known for their mainstream work, she has never hesitated to admit that she writes science fiction. She was Writer Guest of Honour at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), and made a well-received speech in which she described her science-fictional Memoirs of a Survivor as "an attempt at an autobiography."

Selected media

Illustration to Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" by W. E. F. Britten.
Credit: William Edward Frank Britten (illustration), Tennyson (poem), Adam Cuerden (restoration)

Illustration to Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" by W. E. F. Britten:

And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
"Who is this? And what is here?"
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

Selected work

First edition cover (1895)
The Time Machine is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 and later directly adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in all media. This 32,000 word novella is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. Wells introduces an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre as well.

Wells had considered the notion of time travel before, in an earlier (but less well-known) work titled The Chronic Argonauts. He had thought of using some of this material in a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, until the publisher asked him if he could instead write a serial novel on the same theme; Wells readily agreed, and was paid £100 on its publication by Heinemann in 1895. The story was first published in serial form in the New Review through 1894 and 1895. The book is based on the Block Theory of the Universe, which is a notion that time is a fourth space dimension.

The story reflects Wells's own socialist political views and the contemporary angst about industrial relations. Other science fiction works of the period, including Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, and the later Metropolis, dealt with similar themes.

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

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...

Marie Taglioni

  • ... the Halloween genes include spook, spookier, phantom, disembodied, shadow and shade?

On this day...

April 26:

Film releases

Television series

Births

Anniversaries and events

Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • Dr. Robotnik seizes control in 3224 of the planet Mobius, the name of the former planet Earth.

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April:


May:

 

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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