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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

L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp
Lyon Sprague de Camp (November 27, 1907 – November 6, 2000) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction and biography. In a writing career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and notable works of non-fiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors.De Camp was a materialist who wrote works examining society, history, technology and myth. He published numerous short stories, novels, non-fiction works and poems during his long career.

De Camp had the mind of an educator, and a common theme in many of his works is a corrective impulse regarding similar previous works by other authors. A highly rational and logical thinker, he was frequently disturbed by what he regarded as logical lapses and absurdities in others' writings. Thus, his response to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was to write a similar time travel novel in which the method of time travel was rationalized and the hero's technical expertise both set at a believable level and constrained by the technological limitations of the age.

In like fashion, he reimagined space opera and planetary romances in his "Viagens Interplanetarias" series, and the prehistoric precursor civilizations characteristic of much heroic fantasy in his "Pusadian series." When he was not debunking literary conventions he was often explaining them, as with the early "Harold Shea", stories co-written with Fletcher Pratt, in which the magical premises behind a number of bodies of myths and legends were accepted as a given but examined and elucidated in terms of their own systems of inherent logic. De Camp's explanatory tendency also carried over into his non-fictional writings.

Selected profile #2

Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne (French: [ʒyl vɛʁn]; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction. Born to bourgeois parents in the seaport of Nantes, Verne was trained to follow in his father's footsteps as a lawyer, but quit the profession early in life to write for magazines and the stage. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages Extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation is markedly different in Anglophone regions, where he has often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children's books, not least because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels are often reprinted.

Verne is the second most translated author in the world (following Agatha Christie), and his works appear in more translations per year than those of any other writer. Verne is one writer sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction," as are H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.

Selected media

Depiction of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote character by Gustave Doré.
Credit: Illustrator: Gustave Doré; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

Don Quixote and his fanciful reality, a "world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination". (POTD)

Selected work

"Harap Alb" or "Harap-Alb" (Romanian pronunciation: [haˈrap ˈalb]), known in full as Povestea lui Harap Alb ("The Story of Harap Alb"), is a Romanian-language fairy tale. Based on traditional themes found in Romanian folklore, it was recorded and reworked in 1877 by writer Ion Creangă, becoming one of his main contributions to fantasy and Romanian literature. The narrative centers on an eponymous prince traveling into a faraway land whose throne he has inherited, showing him being made into a slave by the treacherous Bald Man and eventually redeeming himself through acts of bravery. The plot introduces intricate symbolism, notably illustrated by the secondary characters. Among these are the helpful and sage old woman Holy Sunday, the tyrannical Red Emperor, and a band of five monstrous characters who provide the prince with serendipitous assistance.

An influential work, "Harap Alb" received much attention from Creangă's critical posterity, and became the inspiration for contributions in several fields. These include Ion Popescu-Gopo's film De-aş fi Harap Alb, a Postmodernist novel by Stelian Ţurlea and a comic book by Sandu Florea, alongside one of Gabriel Liiceanu's theses in the field of political philosophy.

Selected quote


Brian Aldiss (b.1925), Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction (1973).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

The iCub robot at the Genoa Science Festival in 2009
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three science fiction laws written by Isaac Asimov, which most robots appearing in his fiction have to obey. First introduced in his short story "Runaround" (1942), they state the following:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Three Laws are an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's fiction, appearing in the Foundation series and the other stories linked to it, as well as Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them, and references (often parodic) appear throughout science fiction and in other genres. Technologists in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create real machines with some of the properties of Asimov's robots, have speculated upon the role the Three Laws play in such research.

Did you know...

a blue monster without a head and with a big face on his chest. Two men holding swords seated on his two arms

  • ... that the demon Kabandha (pictured), from the Hindu epic Ramayana, is described to be as big as a mountain, headless, and with arms eight miles long?
  • ... 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...

July 26:

Film releases

Births

Deaths

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.
  • Around the year 18,000,000, a "half-plastic denizen" of the interior of a planet beyond Pluto exchanges his mind with the Great Race of Yith.

Upcoming conventions

July:


August:

 

Dates can usually be found on the article page.


See also these convention lists: anime, comic book, furry, gaming, multigenre, and science fiction.

Things you can do...

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