What Is Speculative Fiction?
Speculative fiction invites readers to imagine possibilities that challenge and expand their understanding of the world.
Some define speculative fiction with a negative—any fiction not based in the so-called “real world”—but that relies heavily on a consensus reality that may not be universally agreed upon. At Clarion West, we’re not here to gatekeep. Secondary world fantasy? Love it. Hard science fiction? Bring on the AI overlords. Portals, time travel, supernatural beings, assorted weird stuff? Yes, yes, forever yes. Horrors both eldritch and mundane? You’re giving us chills. Stories so ambiguous that they need their own shelf? Those are some of our favorites.
We could list sub-genres until the mutant cows came home, but such a list would necessarily leave something out. There are as many definitions for speculative fiction as there are authors working under its broad umbrella.
Here’s what a few of our board members have to say about it:
“That could be broad, like epic fantasy or science fiction where the planet/society/universe obeys different laws, or ‘just like our world, but with that one little tweak’ that makes you realize you are not home and in fact this is an eldritch horror that has eaten your house.”