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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 (play) 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

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 profile #2

John Wood Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 – July 11, 1971) was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact), from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his editorship he dominated the field completely." As a writer, Campbell published super-science space opera under his own name and moody, less pulpish stories as Don A. Stuart. However, he stopped writing fiction after he became editor of Astounding.

Campbell's first published story, "When the Atoms Failed," appeared in the January 1930 issue of Amazing Stories when he was 19; he had had a previous story, "Invaders from the Infinite", accepted by Amazing's editor, T. O'Conor Sloane, but Sloane had lost the manuscript. Campbell's early fiction included a space opera series based on three characters, Arcot, Morey and Wade, and another series with lead characters Penton and Blake. This early work established Campbell's reputation as a writer of space adventure; and when he began in 1934 to publish stories with a different tone, he used a pseudonym derived from his wife's maiden name.

Selected media

Canto VII of Dante's Inferno
Credit: Artist: Gustave Doré; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

Gustave Doré's depiction of Canto VII of Dante's Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy. Here, we see the fourth circle (out of nine) of Hell, in which hoarders and wasters are forced to move around giant bags of gold, similar to the mythological story of Sisyphus. Allegorically, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin. (POTD)

Selected work

Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published (in abridged form) as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (October, November 1959, as "Starship Soldier") and published hardcover in December, 1959.

The first-person narrative is about a young soldier named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs". Through Rico's eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency.

Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. The novel has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes, which some critics claim promote militarism. Starship Troopers has been adapted into several films and games, with the most widely known being the 1997 film by Paul Verhoeven.

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

Amazing Stories, April 1926. Volume 1, Number 1
Amazing Stories was an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Before Amazing, science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

Amazing was published, with some interruptions, for almost eighty years. The title first changed hands in 1929, when Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine. Amazing became unprofitable during the 1930s and in 1938 was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing began to print stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos which explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named "deros"; the stories were presented as fact, and led to dramatically increased circulation but also widespread ridicule.

Palmer was replaced by Howard Browne in 1949, who briefly entertained plans of taking Amazing upmarket. These plans came to nothing, though Amazing did switch to a digest format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. A brief period under the editorship of Paul W. Fairman was followed, at the end of 1958, by the leadership of Cele Goldsmith. Despite her lack of experience she was able to bring new life to the magazine, and her years are regarded as one of Amazing's most creative eras. She was unable to arrest the declining circulation, though, and the magazine was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965.

Did you know...

Annette Nelson as 'The Mountain Sylph'

On this day...

May 27:

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Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • The artificial intelligence Durandal arrives in the Lh'owon system, 97 light years from the Milky Way's center, in 2811.
  • The planet Rubi-Ka is discovered in 28702 by the Omni-Tek Corporation.

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