DWJones mystery book

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 1 18:43:06 EDT 2003

--- Robyn Starkey <rohina at shaw.ca> wrote:
> > >2.  Do you know what Diana means when she refers
> to her work as
> > >speculative fiction?
> >
> >Speculative fiction is a general catchall term for
> science fiction and
> >fantasy together.  Whether DWJ means that or
> something else, I don't know.
> >It also sometimes carries a more literary
> connotation, indicating that
> >you're taking the genre seriously.
> I think speculative fiction also includes some
> genres/texts not strictly in 
> the sf or fantasy categories, like historical
> fiction, or alternate history 
> stories, and sometimes horror (if that's a separate
> genre) as well. 

I've never seen historical fiction listed as
"speculative fiction", although alternative histories
are, as they are often regarded as a sub-genre of
science fiction. (although DWJ makes great use of them
in fantasy). And also historical fiction involving
time-travel as a plot device is sometimes included.
According to Clute & Nichols "Encyclopedia of science
fiction" the term Speculative Fiction was coined by
Robert heinlein in the late '40s to describe science
fiction that was based on extrapolation of existing
science or technology - ie "hard sf", but then used in
the mid '60s by Judith Merril as term to encompass
science fiction that had little to do with science.
>From this definition it isn't far to including fantasy
within the definition, especially at a time when most
fantasy was being written by authors who also wrote
science fiction.
When I became involved in fandom in the '70s the term
was popular as a catch-all for science fiction and
fantasy and also covering most horror, certainly any
which had fantasy of Science fiction elements, plus
any other fiction not normally regarded as part of
"our genre" that contained these elements (such as
magic realism and time-travel stories with no other
science fiction of fantasy elements). It's popularity
in part was because it had the same initials as
Science Fiction and thus the term SF could be used
meaning speculative not science fiction, and also in
part as a counter to the term "sci fi" which sf fans
of the time loathed (and contemptuously pronounced
"skiffy" - reserving it for bad, often Hollywood
generated, science fiction).
DWJ, like Sherri Tepper and Michael Moorcock, is an
author who's work often straddles to boundries between
science fiction and fantasy and the term "speculative
fiction" can be very useful in describing their work.


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