“I write in a couple different sub-genres of speculative fiction. Fantasy, science fiction, and historical fantasy to be precise.” So says a writer at Wicked and Tricksy, a new blog.
I guess I’m getting old and out of date. For me, speculative fiction has always meant science fiction that speculates. It has at least a minimal scientific basis, not necessarily hard science, but with a concern for social issues, technological developments, and the various ways that those might impact on individuals and cultures. That may be a bit more restrictive than necessary, but I’m not really in a writing or thinking mood, so this is shorthand for what should be a nice long blog post.
Speculative fiction, almost by definition, did not include fantasy elements. But more important, science fiction wasn’t a subgenre of anything. If we have to talk about subgenres, then speculative fiction was a subgenre of science fiction. No fantasy, historical or otherwise.
On a recent list of the ten most popular genres (don’t ask where it is, because I don’t remember), science fiction was absent. I already knew that sf isn’t exactly the most popular genre (maybe because too much of it requires the ability to read well, and to think), but I had no idea it wasn’t even low man on the totem pole. Somewhere under the pole, apparently. Maybe it’s that lowly popularity status that’s responsible for its becoming a subgenre lumped together with other subgenres with which it has absolutely nothing in common. Just a feeble niche shoved off into a corner and unable to defend itself.