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Speculative Fiction: Genres and a few examples

In another medium story, I had tried to explain the basic meaning of speculative fiction as an umbrella genre.

Go ahead and read it: Speculative Fiction: What does it mean.

In that article, besides the meaning of speculative fiction, I also touched upon the reason by writers often pick up speculative fiction as their preferred genre of storytelling. In simple terms, the flexibility and free reign(almost) that speculative fiction as a genre provides to storytellers is beyond comprehension(somewhat). A simple detective story can be told using different styles and tones. A fantasy novel may have simplistic or even the most unimaginable fantastical elements. This is what has ensured that speculative fiction, in the 21st century rules over all others.

We know what speculative fiction means. We also know why it is so popular amongst authors and writers. Now lets move to the different genres and a few examples of speculative fiction.

The Different Genres of Speculative Fiction

Had I been ultra famous, having thousands of readers, I would have received at least hundreds of comments telling me that the number I genres I’ve enfolded in the umbrella of speculative fiction is wrong. The inclusion of genres under speculative fiction is subjective, some believe it is just fantasy and sci-fi, some believe historical fiction should also be included, and some, like me, will agree with one’s I’ll be listing below as the genres of speculative fiction.

Over the years, the genre inclusion and exclusion in the speculative fiction parent genre has been a hot topic of debate. Experts and amateurs alike have something to say about this and it has been a literary tussle since. What I’ve found as a solution and what seems to be the simplest possible explanation lies in the definition of speculative fiction and how is differs from fiction.

Fiction may feature a smart and intellectual individual like Inspector Morse who can, using his humanly-possible intelligence solve crime. Fiction, in simple words, is something we might see in our world and abides by the laws of nature. Speculative fiction, on the other hand, includes stories that go beyond these ‘laws’. In speculative fiction we see a lot of world building, a lot of explanation on the part of the author. If an author chooses to create a new character, he has to ensure that he/she does a good enough job to make them seem real and obvious in the world created by them.

So if the difference between fiction and speculative fiction is that of a predicted and created reality, it must be plain and simple enough that genres like historical fiction, dystopian, supernatural, apocalyptic/post-apocalytpic be considered a part of it.

Here are some of the genres I’ve speculated as the genres of speculative fiction-

  1. Fantasy- Fantasy seems to be the most natural and obvious entry in the umbrella genre of speculative fiction. In this genre, we see and read stories including almost everything and anything that the mind can imagine. Be it dragons or a mark having special powers, you name it, it’s possible and fantastical.

Examples of fantasy- A Song of Ice and Fire, The Witcher, Harry Potter, The Devourers, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

2. Sci-fi- Sci-fi or science fiction are stories that are mostly set in the future. Be it alien attacks ten years from now or a time machine taking you back and ahead in time, sci-fi stories feature technologies that do not exist presently but may be developed in the future.

Examples of Sci-Fi- Back to the Future, Dune, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, Brave New World, The Martian and Interstellar

3. Horror- Triggering fear, these tales include villains, dead or alive, may have psychotic tendencies and may be supernatural in nature.

Examples of Horror- It, Insidious, Pet Semetary, The Shinning, Annabelle, Bird Box and Hell House.

4. Dystopia- A dystopian story represents a society riddled with injustice, chaos and violence. We see an authoritarian body controlling and dragging this society to its ruin.

Examples of Dystopia- 1984, Brave New World, Leila, Fahrenheit 421, The Handmaiden’s Tale, A Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner

5. Utopia- The exact opposite of dystopia, utopia embodies a just, safe and advanced society, where people prosper and live with unity and peace.

Examples of Utopia- Island, Ecotopia and 1776

6. Historical Fiction- In historical fiction we read and see stories about the past from an alternative/different perspective and offering different endings. Be it the World Wars, partitions and exoduses, historical fiction is a widely used genre amongst storytellers.

Examples of Historical Fiction- All the Light We Cannot See, War and Peace, The Book Thief, The Great Gatsby, The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum and A Tale of Two Cities.

7. Apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic- In these two genres we read and see stories about a world that is facing an apocalypse(end of the world), or shows a group of people who’ve survived the apocalypse. The reasons behind said apocalypse can be many, alien attack, climatic, or a natural disaster.

Examples of Apocalytpic/Post-apocalytpic- The Day After Tomorrow, The Stand, 2012, Bird Box, Fallout, Mad Max and The War of the Worlds.

Speculative Fiction: Genres and a few examples- In Conclusion

Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre offering limitless opportunities, flexibility and liberty to storytellers. From picking different genres and tones and styles of writing, speculative fiction has been a raging topic amongst authors and readers.

In this article, I listed down the different genres of speculative fiction and some books and movies this super-genre has to offer.

About the Author

Sharon is the content head at Binge Mad. Some of her interests include education, writing, and literature.



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Sharon Philip

Sharon Philip

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Sharon manages content for an entertainment media company called Binge Mad. Some of her interests include education, writing, and literature.