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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 (play) 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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Butler signing a copy of Fledgling in October 2005
Butler signing a copy of Fledgling in October 2005

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.

Born in Pasadena, California, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Butler found an outlet at the library reading fantasy, and in writing. She began writing science fiction as a teenager. She attended community college during the Black Power movement, and while participating in a local writer's workshop was encouraged to attend the Clarion Workshop, which focused on science fiction. (Full article...)

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Final Fantasy XII is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix. The twelfth main installment of the Final Fantasy series, it was first released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006. It introduced several innovations to the series: an open world; a seamless battle system; a controllable camera; a customizable "gambit" system, which lets the player control the artificial intelligence (AI) of characters in battle; a "license" system, which determines what abilities and equipment can be used by characters; and hunting side quests, which allows the player to find and defeat increasingly difficult monsters in the game's open world. Final Fantasy XII also includes elements from previous games in the series, such as Chocobos and Moogles.

The game takes place in Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Dalmasca is annexed by Archadia, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of becoming a sky pirate in command of an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire. (Full article...)

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Peter Nicholls (b.1939), True Rat 7 (1976).

More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

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Credit: Artist: Ilya Repin

Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom, a painting by Ilya Repin depicting Sadko, a Russian folk hero of a bylina of the same name, though this painting depicts only one specific version of that tale. In this version, the Sea King wants Sadko to marry one of the many underwater beauties (daughters). However, if he chooses one of them he will remain under the sea forever. Instead he is supposed to pick an unremarkable servant girl -- pictured in the upper left hand side -- who will magically help him return to Novgorod and his human wife there. The story inspired both an opera and musical tableau. (POTD)

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

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Cover of the first issue of Science Fiction, dated March 1939.  The artwork is by Frank R. Paul
Cover of the first issue of Science Fiction, dated March 1939. The artwork is by Frank R. Paul
Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories were two American science fiction magazines that were published under various names between 1939 and 1943 and again from 1950 to 1960. Both publications were edited by Charles Hornig for the first few issues; Robert W. Lowndes took over in late 1941 and remained editor until the end. The initial launch of the magazines came as part of a boom in science fiction pulp magazine publishing at the end of the 1930s. In 1941 the two magazines were combined into one, titled Future Fiction combined with Science Fiction, but in 1943 wartime paper shortages ended the magazine's run, as Louis Silberkleit, the publisher, decided to focus his resources on his mystery and western magazine titles. In 1950, with the market improving again, Silberkleit relaunched Future Fiction, still in the pulp format. In the mid-1950s he also relaunched Science Fiction, this time under the title Science Fiction Stories. Silberkleit kept both magazines on very slim budgets throughout the 1950s. In 1960 both titles ceased publication when their distributor suddenly dropped all of Silberkleit's titles. The fiction was generally unremarkable, with few memorable stories being published, particularly in the earlier versions of the magazines. Lowndes spent much effort to set a friendly and engaging tone in both magazines, with letter columns and reader departments that interested fans. He was more successful than Hornig in obtaining good stories, partly because he had good relationships with several well-known and emerging writers. Among the better-known stories he published were "The Liberation of Earth" by William Tenn, and "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke. (Full article...)

On this day...

Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • Jenny, the daughter of the Doctor, is born on July 24, 6012 on the planet Messaline.
  • 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.

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