Monday, June 4, 2012

Speculative Fiction

Tell you a fairytale by LenaStinke on deviantArt

"... it is against the backdrop of fantasy and science-fiction that basic human truths can be best examined, magnified, and delighted in." 

Jennifer Azantian, literary agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Basic human truth. Isn't that what the best stories explore? Those books that show you something you didn't know about yourself or the world around you?

I love speculative fiction - fantasy, science fiction, futuristic, the whole gamut. Because at heart, I like simple, honest, quiet stories. Stories that might seem boring, except that with some fantastic twist, it becomes something more, something deeper (like a broken superpower that becomes a metaphor for all the broken parts in each of us. Go ONE!).

On my worst days, I feel like what I write isn't serious writing. It isn't literarture. Sometimes I worry that means it isn't important. But just because a book is about fairies or demons or space ships doesn't mean it can't add value to our lives.

I'm reminded of A Wind in the Door, in which Meg faces an evil that Unnames things. It's so wildly outside my experiences, but I will never forget the impact that story had on me. Sure, I love Meg and Calvin. Charles Wallace makes me cry. Madeleine L'Engle will forever be my writing idol. But it's more than that too. It taught me the value of identity. It taught me to treasure who I am, to not let anyone "unname" me. It taught me that the most insignificant of us have unimaginably important roles to play within our own stories.

So speculative fiction might not receive the same kind of critical acclaim as literary. It might not draw the same attention as contemporary in writing contests. The market might be crowded and oversaturated. But it is important. It is valuable. 

Whatever you write (or create for my non-writer readers), hold to it. It's important because it's important to you. It's important because it's true on some level. Be it frothy romance, way out there space opera or sparkly fantasy, embrace it. Don't let anyone "unname" you. Be true to yourself and your art will be true too - and that (in my opinion) is the highest calling of storytelling. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts! Do you like speculative fiction? Or are you a realist? Do you feel like your art isn't as valuable as someone else's? Share in the comments!


  1. I think what I like most about speculative fiction is the worlds that are created and how the characters interact with that world. I think it's especially important to see how different worlds (or situations) can impact a person and it can bring up a lot of "literary" ideas. (It's kind of similar to the argument of YA vs adult books, and that YA is "watered down" to which I say shenanigans). And just overall, I also think every story can teach us different things about ourselves.

  2. Beautifully put. I needed that today, thanks. =)Sometimes it's easier for us to express ourselves abstractly through speculative fiction than literally with contemporary fiction or even something real like a journal entry. And sometimes we just need a little adventure in our lives and recognize others do too.