What is speculative fiction, anyway?
The phrase “Speculative Fiction” is one you’ll likely hear tossed around a lot (especially if you’re looking to publish), so it’s important to have a working knowledge of what this genre entails. While most of this spotlight involves the breaking up of the term “fantasy” into smaller genres, defining “speculative fiction” actually takes us in the other direction– speculative fiction is broader than fantasy, and it includes several other narrative genres within it.
Speculative Fiction includes:
However, not everything included in the above genres is speculative fiction, nor is that list exhausted. The graph below, from Annie Neugebauer’s article on Speculative Fiction, demonstrates what I mean.
Generally, Speculative Fiction is fiction that takes a look at reality and asks “What if?” “What if this was different?” “What if this thing had happened instead of that other thing?” The term is used with increasing frequency due to the more frequent mashup of genres– have, for example, a science fantasy story you weren’t sure how to classify? Speculative fiction. “Speculative fiction” is a term used to describe a wide array of genres, all of which share the same sort of methodical curiosity that involves altering reality and analyzing the consequences.