What Is Speculative Fiction?


29544681983_f530265e0aChristian Writers of the West recently held our Rattler Writing Contest. One of the categories was Speculative Fiction. In that it is a less-understood genre, I explored a little. Here is what I found:

Pure fiction, tells stories in hypothetical situations, whereas speculative fiction tells stories that take place in hypothetical story-worlds different from our own.

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world. It generally overlaps one or more of these: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.

Speculative fiction encompasses works that don’t fit neatly into the separate genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy.

Stories such as Stranger in a Strange Land. The Twilight Zone. 

When you come across a story that both is and isn’t science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror, that’s speculative fiction.

David Bowlin of ShadowKeep Magazine states, “Speculative fiction is a world that writers create, where anything can happen. It is a place beyond reality, a place that could have been, or might have been, if only the rules of the universe were altered just a bit. Speculative fiction goes beyond the horror of everyday life and takes the reader (and writer) into a world of magic, fantasy, science.”




There was a time when I started writing a few years back, that I had to learn the meaning of quite a few terms. For example, I had no idea what speculative fiction and YA meant.

Recently, I relaxed a little, thinking that I’d caught myself up on all the terms and lingo. I was wrong, however.  As I read biographies of authors on Twitter last week, I came across an unfamiliar term.  Several authors spoke of writing Steampunk.

What in the world is Steampunk?

Here is what I found out:

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that first became popular in the 1980’s.

These are works set in an era or fantasy world where steam power is used, often in the 19th century Victorian era England.

They have prominent elements of science fiction and fictional technology like that found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Some steampunk contains alternate history, such as in a post-apocalyptic future where steam power is in use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.

Steampunk may also use elements from fantasy, horror, historical fiction, or other kinds of speculative fiction.

One of the earliest short stories relying on steam-powered flying machines is the 1844 The Aerial Burglar.

Recent books are: Khurt Khave’s Chainsaw Alice in Wonderland (2014); Quercia’s Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy (2014); and Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

So, now we know.

It doesn’t sound like what I would enjoy reading, (or writing, for that matter) but I hear through the grapevine that it is a favorite among geeky teenagers and young adults.

Seems like it would take a lot of research and a good deal of imagination.

It might be right up your alley.