Spec Lit

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When we say “speculative fiction” what do we mean? There is (oddly enough) a lot of debate over what speculative fiction actually is, and what subgenres exist within its borders. For the purposes of this class, I have decided on the following limitations to this genre: speculative fiction consists of books that concern themselves with making predictions on outcomes given certain criteria. For instance, in the book The Last Days of New Paris, the author speculates what it would be like if a form of technology made all surrealist art come to life (near the end of WWII). The book deals with the outcomes of this given situation. Likewise, the science fiction book, The Martian, predicts possible ways to survive on Mars when stranded. With this definition in mind, we can safely narrow down our subgenres to the following: science fiction, alternate history, and modern fantasy.

Speculative fiction (and even more specifically, science fiction) provides opportunities for its readers to be introduced to philosophical ideas. Many authors and philosophers alike have discussed, at length, the philosophical implications of common themes found within the genre. The nature of reality, identity, freedom, our role in society; each of these subjects help us understand our lives and our actions. Speculative fiction provides a unique perspective that should be taken seriously. The late science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke said, “speculative fiction, at its core, creates an existential metaphor that allows us to tell stories about the human condition.”