There seems to be various definitions of what speculative fiction is, but listed below are a few of the common themes I pulled from them:
1. It can be any genre or any format (including art) which includes a “fantastical” element to the overall story/picture
2. Deals with the hypothetical or more commonly, the “what if.”
Many, not all, seem to agree that speculative fiction is not purely fantasy. Spec-fic (as it’s also known as) must be believable; in that this could happen. After all, you’re speculating, exploring the many possibilities of a given event or idea.
Ever since Robert Heinlein coined the word “speculative fiction” in the 1940s, the writing world has struggled to define exactly what it is. Many have placed science fiction and fantasy under this “umbrella” but is this truly accurate? When Mr. Heinlein “created” this word, he was thinking about science fiction and did not considered fantasy to be a part of it. At that time, he as well as many other sci-fi writers, were not particularly happy with the sci-fi genre and its limitations. They wanted to push their writings beyond the traditional boundaries of that genre.
In my mind, speculative fiction isn’t just science fiction and fantasy. It encompasses any work that doesn’t follow the traditional mode of a given genre. In poetry, we called this “experimental.”
What are your thoughts?