What is Speculative Fiction?
Thinklings Books is a publisher of speculative fiction. You may have heard the term (often shortened to “spec fic”) and wondered exactly what it meant. Today we’re not just going to speculate on what it is; we’re going to provide concrete answers!
When you speculate, you ask “What if?” But all fiction books pose that question in one way or another; it’s what makes them fictional. So whether something is spec fic or not depends on what, where, whom, etc., a book is speculating about.
The key is, any work of speculative fiction contains elements that don’t exist (or are thought not to) in the real world. Another way of putting it is that the “laws” of your fictional world must be different from those of the real world.
Since I, and a lot of other people, like lists, here are four elements that make a book speculative fiction:
As far as subgenres go, spec fic books can be labeled fantasy (high, low, urban, etc.), science fiction, dystopian, paranormal, Southern gothic, steampunk, historical rewrite, supernatural thriller, horror, magical realism, superhero story … or [insert your own subgenre here]. The huge variety is part of the fun! We at Thinklings love being surprised when a book has a twist in genre, and we love how all these categories can mix and match, blend, and overlap. Unique books that are hard to pin down make us swoon.
I (Sarah) particularly love Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Is it fantasy? Is it sci-fi? There is science, and the characters travel by tesseract (not a magic spell like apparition in Harry Potter) to other planets; but it’s not hard-science-y, and love is what breaks Charles Wallace out of the control of IT on Camazotz. The forces of good and evil are more the realm of fantasy, and there’s a “Happy Medium” who sees the future in a crystal ball with no scientific explanation. Later books in the series contain unicorns and angels. Talk about unique!
Another great example of a genre-bending book is Bargaining Power, the very first novel we're putting out, written by Deborah J. Natelson (yes, our CEO!). Bargaining Power is low fantasy combined with a spy-thriller type of plot. It will definitely have you on the edge of your seat! Preorder starts November 1, 2019. Release day is December 1, 2019.
What’s your favorite subgenre or work of speculative fiction? Why?
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