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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

Sagan at the Planetary Society
Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. During his lifetime, he published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he advocated skeptical inquiry and the scientific method. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Sagan became world-famous for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. A book to accompany the program was also published. Sagan also wrote the science fiction novel, Contact, the basis for the 1997 film of the same name.

From Cosmos and his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Sagan became associated with the catch phrase "billions and billions". Sagan stated that he never actually used the phrase in the Cosmos series. The closest that he ever came was in the book Cosmos, where he talked of "billions upon billions":

A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars—billions upon billions of stars.

— Carl Sagan, Cosmos, chapter 1, page 3

However, his frequent use of the word billions, and distinctive delivery emphasizing the "b" (which he did intentionally, in place of more cumbersome alternatives such as "billions with a 'b'", in order to distinguish the word from "millions" in viewers' minds), made him a favorite target of comic performers including Johnny Carson, Gary Kroeger, Mike Myers, Bronson Pinchot, Penn Jillette, Harry Shearer, and others.

Selected profile #2

Le Guin answering questions in 2004.
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929) is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, most notably in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. First published in the 1960s, her works explore Taoist, anarchist, ethnographic, feminist, psychological and sociological themes. She became interested in literature when she was very young. At the age of eleven she submitted her first story to the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, but it was rejected. Her earliest writings, some of which she adapted to include in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena, were non-fantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a publishable way to express her interests, she returned to her early interest in science fiction and began to be published regularly in the early 1960s. She received wide recognition for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970.

Le Guin has received five Hugo awards, six Nebula awards, the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003. She has received nineteen Locus Awards for her fiction, more than any other author. Her novel The Farthest Shore won the National Book Award for Children's Books in 1973.

Selected media

Illustration to Tennyson's "Sleeping Beauty" by W. E. F. Britten.  Like a lot of Tennyson poems based on a literary source, Tennyson only focuses on a tiny part of the whole.  Hence, the poem leaves out all the setup and the conclusion, instead describing what her sleep was like
Credit: William Edward Frank Britten (artist), Tennyson (poem), Adam Cuerden (restoration, image description)

Illustration to Tennyson's "Sleeping Beauty" by W. E. F. Britten. Like a lot of Tennyson poems based on a literary source, Tennyson only focuses on a tiny part of the whole. Hence, the poem leaves out all the setup and the conclusion, instead describing what her sleep was like:

Year after year unto her feet,
She lying on her couch alone,
Across the purpled coverlet,
The maiden's jet-black hair has grown,
On either side her tranced form
Forth streaming from a braid of pearl:
The slumbrous light is rich and warm,
And moves not on the rounded curl.
 
The silk star-broider'd coverlid
Unto her limbs itself doth mould
Languidly ever; and, amid
Her full black ringlets downward roll'd,
Glows forth each softly-shadow'd arm,
With bracelets of the diamond bright:
Her constant beauty doth inform
Stillness with love, and day with light.
 
She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
In palace chambers far apart.
The fragrant tresses are not stirr'd
That lie upon her charmed heart.
She sleeps: on either hand upswells
The gold-fringed pillow lightly prest:
She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
A perfect form in perfect rest.

Selected work

An illustration by John Tenniel depicting Alice with some creatures from Wonderland.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was written in 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three young daughters of Henry George Liddell: Lorina Charlotte Liddell, Alice Pleasance Liddell, and Edith Mary Liddell. Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.

The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time, the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay—over two years —he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself.

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

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...

Owl Island from The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

On this day...

November 20:

Book releases

Deaths

  • 1950 - Erle Cox (b. 1873), an Australian journalist and science fiction writer


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • The artificial intelligence Durandal arrives in the Lh'owon system, 97 light years from the Milky Way's center, in 2811.
  • The planet Rubi-Ka is discovered in 28702 by the Omni-Tek Corporation.

Upcoming conventions

November:


December:

  • SMOFcon (moves from year to year)

 

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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