Speculative Fiction is the upgraded term for good old Science Fiction.
I have more than a few writing colleagues who “cringe” (their word) when they hear/see/read people like me calling our own works “Sci-Fi” rather than “Spec Fic.” They think it’s old-fashioned. They think it’s out of date. They’d re-write every email, story, book, essay, and Post-It Note containing that ancient phase if they could.
Funny thing is speculative fiction is actually more what I write (in my understanding at least) which is sci-fi without a lot of sci. I don’t write hard science fiction. You won’t find calculations or exegesis on the God Particle or the Hadron Collider. No.
What you will find is my speculation on how future societies might work and whether they will work differently…
- Will there still be drug addiction and prostitution as in my novel Isadora DayStar?
- Will there still be massive war machines and their factories?
- What if aliens of every imaginable shape, size and sentience level were common place as in the Star Wars universe?
- What about corruption?
- Mostly, will the human race ever evolve from wars, prejudice, greed, politics, or any other of our human transgressions which we keep hoping to replace with love, kindness, peace, equality and freedom?
- And how long will we hope for that evolution before we simply give up and give in to our nature that dictates we must control and/or enslave whatever we come across be it animal, mineral, vegetable, and anything that fits in between those, i.e. aliens life forms? We’ve already done it ourselves. And in some senses, we still do.
Whether the “Dystopian” genre’ or sub-genre’, depending on your POV, falls into Science Fiction or Spec Fiction I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out. I used to love Dystopian novels – probably because I was born around the time of the Bay of Pigs and the absolute horror and fear of nuclear annihilation was ground into every living human cell that could try to comprehend utter devastation with little hope of survival of our species.
“Dystopian” societies in fiction gave me a sort of false hope that someone, somewhere would survive – a person once said to me after a spate of nuclear war dystopian movies ran all over television:
That brought Dystopia into crystal clear focus for me. It was the pressure valve of growing up with nuclear winter, genetic mutation, and a fried planet as real possibilities.
I digress as usual. Science Fiction as hard science has always frightened me.
While all the gadgets and smarty people who populate the plots are interesting and impressive, there’s a part of me that hides under the bed as people turn from living, breathing, organic organisms into cyborgs that turn into complete machinery. It’s a terrifying dehumanization to me. I don’t particularly want to put my intelligence, personality, or soul in a chip that goes into a robot, a computer or a toaster oven. And if you know anything about human quirkiness, the toaster oven is a feasible probability.
“Hey, turn Mom on, I want a Pop Tart!”
I like to have hope and expansion in my novels. It’s the only way I can picture the future: promise and possibility - unrestrained exploration, growth and yes, colonization if only to vary our existence. Yes, I still leave in our human failings; use and abuse of others, greed, corruption, crime etc. and etc., because I truly believe that is both our burden and our hope as human beings – perhaps we can never rid ourselves of them but perhaps real evolution is to recognize them and try to deal with them ad infinitum.
Whether we achieve deletion of our failures or not may not be the object of our advancement at all.
So there it is.
Whether I like it or not, I think I write Spec Fic. I just don’t like writing or saying Spec Fic. It sounds silly to me even though I’ve written Spec Scripts (a thoroughly different connotation). So I ask forgiveness of my colleagues who insist that the term Sci-Fi should be done away with; regardless the tongue/keyboard lashings I get, I can’t help it. I just like using sci-fi better.