Ever heard the term "Speculative Fiction" and wondered what it was? It's one of those genres that you think you know what it is, but you just might not.
Speculative Fiction tends to be loosely defined as any book that falls within the umbrella of the "fantastical fiction genres". That umbrella normally covers a long list that includes some science fiction, all fantasy, horror, supernatural, paranormal, utopian, dystopian...and the list goes on.
But while all Speculative Fiction can be cataloged as a sub-genre of Science Fiction (known as SF by the purists of the genre, leaving "sci-fi" for those of the pop culture), Science Fiction cannot be cataloged as a part of the Speculative Fiction genre. You see, while Science Fiction is based in the very real sciences, Speculative Fiction may or not be. Let's look at some examples:
The best examples that I can think of for the Science Fiction category is Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series or Robert A Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Both authors based their books on the hard sciences of mathematics and computer technology, adding an element of what's called the "soft" science of sociology, to project a story line into the future. These plots are based on what we know of these sciences now and predict a possible future.
A couple of examples of Speculative Fiction would be my own The Savior or Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, etc). Both of these books are also grounded in "reality" with their historical fiction plots but there is the fantasy element of time travel in both. In my book, there is also the spiritual angle of the Celtic, Buddhist, and Judeo-Christian religions melding into the story line with all of the mystic qualities intact..
Another excellent example of Speculative Fiction is Naomi Novik's Temeraire series (His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, etc). These books are set in an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars in a universe where dragons not only exist but they are sentient creatures, capable of speech and thought, and willing participants in the wars.
And now, when someone near you asks "what is Speculative Fiction?", you can tell them.
Jesse V Coffey is the author of The Savior, An Opportunity for Resentment, as well as her free download, Ilusions & Reality. All of her books are available through Amazon.com, coming soon to all retailers in the spring of 2014.