Genre Clarification: Speculative Fiction


Speculative fiction is a broad genre encompassing fiction with certain elements that do not exist in the real world, often in the context of supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, supernatural fiction as well as combinations thereof (e.g. science fantasy).

Let’s take a moment and look at the following sub-genres of speculative fiction:

Alternate History Fiction

Alternate History fiction focuses on historical events as if they happened in a different way, and their implications in the present.  

Fantasy Fiction

Fantasy fiction includes elements and beings originating from or inspired by traditional stories, such as mythical creatures (dragons, elves, dwarves and fairies, for example), magic, witchcraft, potions, etc.

Science Fiction

Science Fiction features technologies and other elements that do not exist in real life but may be supposed to be created or discovered in the future through scientific advancement, such as advanced robots, interstellar travel, aliens, time travel, mutants and cyborgs. Many sci-fi stories are set in the future.

Utopian Fiction and Dystopian Fiction

Utopian fiction takes place in a highly desirable society, often presented as advanced, happy, intelligent or even perfect or problem-free.  Dystopian fiction takes place in a highly undesirable society, often plagued with strict control, violence, chaos, brainwashing or other negative elements.

Horror Fiction

Horror fiction focuses on terrifying stories that incite fear. Villains may be either supernatural, such as monsters, vampires, ghosts and demons, or mundane people, such as psychopathic and cruel murderers. Often features violence and death.

Apocalyptic Fiction and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Apocalyptic fiction fakes place before and during a massive, worldwide catastrophe, typically a climatic or pandemic natural disaster of extremely large scale or a nuclear holocaust.  Post-apocalyptic fiction focuses on groups of survivors after similar massive, worldwide disasters.

Supernatural Fiction

Supernatural fiction is similar to horror in that it exploits or requires as plot devices or themes some contradictions of the commonplace natural world and materialist assumptions about it.

Book MarksGenre Clarification

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