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A Few Thoughts on Genre

September 28, 2011

Science-fiction is a fascinating beast; it’s instantly recognizable yet difficult to define comprehensively. For example, whenever you come across aliens, sentient machines, time-travel or any of the various other archetypal sci-fi elements in a story, you know you’re experiencing science-fiction.

I’ve come across several definitions of science-fiction and here is one, in my own words, that seems to sum it up well:

A story within a setting that differs scientifically or technologically from our own.

This seems to be broad enough to cover all of the outliers without being too inclusive, but I think more needs to be said about the genre. While it’s great to have some purely entertaining films that fall into this genre (Star Wars and Men In Black come to mind), I tend to think great science-fiction provides some commentary as well.

Generally, these films examine how, even in futuristic and advanced societies, we can never escape the human condition. This isn’t necessary but with the exception of Star Wars, these are the ones that tend to pass into legend.

Speculative-fiction is a term I’ve been playing around with a bit lately. It’s a broader term than science-fiction and in some cases might include fantasy, horror and the supernatural. While I do like “speculative,” for being a more baggage-free term than “science,” I don’t want my sci-fi lumped in with any of those previously mentioned subgenres (fantasy, etc.) when discussing spec or sci-fi.

This makes spec-fi a term that is only helpful on occasion but still nice to have handy when needed.

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From → General Musings

2 Comments
  1. Tony,

    I never heard of the term “speculative-fiction.” Interesting to read about on Wikipedia. I can understand how people could confuse the term with science fiction; especially when people have not heard of this term before, like me. Well thought out post!

    • Thanks for checking out the links to find out more! I love this stuff and think about it all the time, so I’m glad it’s not “all Greek” to everyone else.

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