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Portal:Speculative fiction

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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 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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Selected profile #1

Stevenson ca.1880
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. Stevenson has been greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins".

His speculative fiction works include Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which helped establish Stevenson's wider reputation, The Bottle Imp, the story of magical bottle which contains an imp capable of granting wishes for a price, New Arabian Nights, a collection containing Stevenson's first published short fiction, The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, another collection of short stories, and Island Nights' Entertainments, a collection of three of his stories (including The Bottle Imp).

Stevenson was seen for much of the 20th century as a writer of the second class, condemned by literary figures such as Virginia Woolf. He is now being re-evaluated as a peer of authors such as Joseph Conrad (whom Stevenson influenced with his South Seas fiction) and Henry James, with new scholarly studies and organizations devoted to Stevenson. No matter what the scholarly reception, Stevenson remains very popular around the world. According to the Index Translationum, Stevenson is ranked the 25th most translated author in the world, ahead of fellow nineteenth-century writers Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.

Selected profile #2

Moore in 2008
Alan Moore (born 18 November 1953) is an English writer known for work in comics, including the acclaimed comic book series Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He wrote the novel Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore applied literary sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium as well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes. He brings a wide range of influences to his work, such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair, New Wave science fiction writers like Michael Moorcock and horror writers like Clive Barker. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot.

Moore's British work brought him to the attention of DC Comics editor Len Wein, who hired him in 1983 to write Swamp Thing, then a formulaic and poor-selling monster comic. Moore, along with artists Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch and John Totleben, deconstructed and reimagined the character, writing a series of formally experimental stories that addressed environmental and social issues alongside the horror and fantasy, bolstered by research into the culture of Louisiana, where the series was set. He revived many of DC's neglected magical and supernatural characters, including the Spectre, the Demon, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman and others, and introduced John Constantine, an English working-class magician based visually on Sting, who later got his own series, Hellblazer, currently the longest continuously published comic of DC's Vertigo imprint.

Selected media

A scene from Orlando furioso'
Credit: Artist: Gustave Doré

A scene from Orlando furioso ("Orlando the Furious"), an epic poem written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1516. It is a sequel to Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando innamorato ("Orlando in Love"), but it is quite distant from the other work in that it does not preserve the humanistic concepts of knight errantry. In this scene, Ruggierio is rescuing Angelica, a typical princess and dragon premise. (POTD)

Selected work

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis. Published in 1950 and set in circa 1940, it is the first-published book of The Chronicles of Narnia and is the best known book of the series. Although it was written and published first, it is second in the series' internal chronological order, after The Magician's Nephew. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Initially the character of Aslan was not present in the story. Lewis had already conceived of the land of Narnia as a frozen kingdom under the terror of the totalitarian rule of the White Witch, mostly probably reflecting the events of the Second World War and the situation of countries under Nazi occupation. He had suffered from nightmares for most of this life. Around the time he was writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he had a number of dreams with lions in them and soon the figure of Aslan made a dramatic entrance into his imagination, effecting a complete transformation upon the story and drawing the novel and the entire series of Narnia stories together.

Lewis very much enjoyed writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and embarked on the sequel Prince Caspian soon after finishing the first novel. He completed the sequel in less than a year, by the end of 1949. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had not been widely released until 1950; thus his initial enthusiasm did not stem from favourable reception by the public.

Selected quote


Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), "Introduction" in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories (1956).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

The Vampire, Philip Burne-Jones' most famous photographic work.
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures and in spite of speculation by literary historian Brian Frost that the "belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself", and may go back to "prehistoric times", the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe.

The success of John Polidori's 1819 The Vampyre established the charismatic and sophisticated vampire of fiction as it is arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula. However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".

Did you know...

A top and a ball (both with human facial features) lay among other toys in an illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen's first illustrator.

On this day...

January 18:

Television series

Deaths


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • A race of moon dwarves searches for a route back to Earth through spiritual enlightenment during the 27th Century.
  • The planet Rubi-Ka is discovered in 28702 by the Omni-Tek Corporation.

Upcoming conventions

January:


February:

 

Dates can usually be found on the article page.


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

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