What is speculative fiction?

As most of you may know, I’m a speculative fiction writer. You’ve probably seen my tagline. It says that I write about dragons, ghosts and spaceships. Sometimes I write about the ghosts of dragons on spaceships.

As cute as that is, it’s not quite helpful if you really don’t know what speculative fiction is. So I thought I’d go over that today.

Basically, speculative fiction is any fiction that falls under Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. All of the good books, in other words. I’m going to be breaking apart each of those genres in more detail in the coming weeks. They all have so many different subgenres that it can get really confusing.

With that being the case, I assume I don’t need to go over in detail what Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror are. I assume you kind of already know the basics.

What I really want to talk about today is blending the genres. Because that’s really why I’m a speculative fiction author. While I do write the genres purely sometimes, I love to blend them together.

Horror and Fantasy

Sandwashed, which I’m working on right now, is a blend of Horror and Fantasy. I’m having so much fun with it!

These two genres blend together like milk and coffee. A fantasy story can so easily incorporate monsters, demons, and ghosts that terrify and overpower a hero no matter the magic they possess.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re blending these two genres.

  • Both Fantasy and Horror already have monsters. The main difference is this; in a horror story, the good guy doesn’t win. He might escape, but he doesn’t beat the monster. It’s always still there, lurking just out of sight. Waiting.
  • Horror stories are more gruesome than Fantasy. If you’re blending the genre, it’s a fine line to tread. I would say somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Saw.
  • The protagonists in a Horror story are usually morally pure people. If they’re not, they’re more likely to die. (Remembers the rules for a horror movie from Scream?)
  • Don’t be afraid to let your heroes be valiant, strong and brave. They’re heroes, they should be. But the point of the monster in the night is that it’s too much for your character. That’s why it’s terrifying, that there’s no being good enough or strong enough. It’s just escaping.
  • Even so, your world should still be fantastic. It shouldn’t be all about the scary. You’re still in a fantasy world, where magic and wonders should abound.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

This is kind of tricky. You’d think these two genres would be totally mutually exclusive. And to be honest, I haven’t yet blended Science Fiction and Fantasy.

But others have! Where do you think we get steampunk from?

Spoiler Alert for Protector of The Small, by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is the queen of this, by the way. Her books blend together magic and science flawlessly. The best example is Protector of The Small, in which the main character is protecting a fort full of civilians. They’re attacked by robotic monsters, powered by the souls of the dead. This is the perfect blend of futuristic technology and magic. Here are some tips if you want to tackle this genre blend.

  • There’s this great quote by Arthur C Clark that sums up this genre. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” If you’re blending Science Fiction and Fantasy, take advantage of that.
  • Science Fiction should always have some basis in science, so I wouldn’t rely too much on magic and forget to have some science in there.
  • Don’t use magic as a blanket excuse for why your science doesn’t make sense! Your magic should always follow a set of rules for it to work by itself. The science should complement that. (The fun thing though, is that you get to make up your own rules. You just have to stick to them once you do that.)

Science Fiction and Horror

Obviously, this is the most common blend of genes on this list. Horror and Science Fiction blend together so well! Any alien movie where the alien is a bad guy is probably horror. Anything with an evil scientist who creates an evil invention is going to go into the realm of Horror. One of my books, Virus, is definitely a blend of Horror and Science Fiction.

Much of what I already said about Fantasy and Horror applies here. There are just a few more tips to remember about Science Fiction and Horror.

  • You want to remember that science can be the salvation or the damnation of a Horror Scifi book. It can also be both.
  • But don’t ever let the reader think that all will be well, just because there’s a super smart scientist on the good guy’s side. The point of Horror, again is that the monster seems un-killable. Think about the antagonists on Alien. They kept right on coming back.

I hope that you have fun blending genres. I certainly do. And if you write a speculative fiction story, please let us know!

Featured Image -- 5413When a station goes dark, Sennett is asked to join the last remaining IHP members to investigate. When they arrive, they find so much more than they expected. A terrifying virus is loose on the station, that they might never escape from.

Meanwhile, Station 86 is having its first free election. Godfrey hadn’t had any intention of being involved, until he isn’t given a choice.

In the meantime, April’s true identity as the first hybrid humanoid is no longer a secret. And there are those who can’t stand that there’s a half Earthian, half Khloe. There are those that will never rest until the little girl is dead. With Sennett trapped, stations away, Godfrey and Mason have to work together to keep April safe.

Read Virus today!

 

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