Friday, November 25, 2011


Before I launch into the subject matter of this blog, let me just explain why its title is not intended to imply that I am a fan of 'Speculative Fiction', because I'm not.

That is not to say that I am not a fan of the literary genres included under this label, science fiction, fantasy, and to a lesser extent horror, it’s just that I dislike the term.

Many years ago, when I was young, 'Science Fiction’, ‘Fantasy' and ‘Horror’ were considered suitable and adequate labels for the literary genres which each identified. ’Science Fiction’ and ‘Fantasy’ were often combined and I can understand that. It can be argued, as I did once, that Science Fiction is a subset of Fantasy. Horror is horror and that’s that. I cannot fathom what previously unrecognized ecological niche of literature required a new and, presumably, more inclusive label to be invented.

Such terms as 'Science Fiction and Fantasy' and 'Speculative Fiction' are merely labels that group stories into categories for the benefit of publishers, bookshops and convention organizers. These categorizations are, of necessity, vague round the edges, leaving overlaps, gaps and areas of vagueness, like the hazy strips on the rainbow that lie between the primary colors. Such imprecision should be able to accommodate the disputed fringes and overlaps of different genres.

Apparently, some writers disliked being pigeonholed as 'science fiction' writers or ‘fantasy writers’ and wished for something more inclusive, allowing them to cross traditional genres and yet still have a label for what they wrote. A label, it seems, is key. Without it they are nothing. Perhaps they wish to be judged by the label rather than the book. But having achieved their goal, are they, one wonders, now happy with being pigeon holed as speculative fiction writers.

All fiction is speculative. Whether you are reading of the life of a London street waif or of a faster than light ship propelling its crew between galaxies, remove the speculation and you have nothing more than a biography or a scientific abstract. The term 'Speculative Fiction' is no more than a tautology.

I use the word Speculation in it pure and unencumbered meaning, unshackled from the demands of the clamoring throngs who lack the mental agility to accept each piece of fiction on its own individual merits and require labels and classification so they know what they are reading.

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