Another blogfest, this time I’ve entered into, the something wicked blogfest features on a favourite of mine: speculative fiction. Held by Wicked and Trisky, I had the option of answering three questions and I chose to answer them all in one go! So:
1. Name 3 of your favorite spec-fic stories (books, movies, tv shows, anything goes!)
2. Tell us why YOU love spec-fic – what plot line, character type, story trope, setting, time, place is your absolute favorite.
3. Take a guess if you can: where do you see spec-fic stories going in the next two, five, ten years? What will be popular and how will the sub-genres have changed?
Y: The Last Man
A virus sweeps through the world, almost instantly killing every mammal with a Y chromosome and instantly wiping out every human male: except for Yorick and his male capuchin. This speculative fiction looks into the realities of what mass human extinction would do to our society, as well as the obvious problems with men still being the predominant heads of state, religion, business etc. The deep human aspect never stops giving, never stops investing in what this would do to every single layer of life. Relationships, travel, society, they are all critically changed with the loss of almost every man on earth. As Yorick travels and attempts to save his own race, he encounters hysterical masses (brainwashed women who believe that the virus was to purge out men for the good of women kind), women who have lost hope and those who have turned this to their own advantage, the reaction of every human being to a catastrophe. A truly masterful piece of speculative fiction that examines how delicate our way of life is, Y: The last man also can’t help but look at the ultimate issue of Yorick’s own survivor guilt.
The Island of Dr Moreau
A piece of early speculative fiction from one of the grandfathers of science fiction, this tale of grisly horror and animals being engineered into almost humans is made all the more impressive by its context. Written as evolution was beginning to be widely accepted, The Island of Dr Moreau looks into biological engineering and the catastrophic consequences. The most impressive feat of this book is that it so effectively blurs the line between animal and man, which Dr Moreau considers to be so defined, as Prendick begins to suffer from the horror of what he’s witnessed. Whilst the idea of getting animals to talk and look human through this engineering is purely fiction, like many of Well’s novels it is powerful as a metaphor for the power of science and the depth of humanity.
The Clockwork Orange
A piece of speculative fiction that is as hard to break into as a code, this novel is written with dense amounts of new slang, meaning that I know several avid readers who simply gave up with it. Set in an undisclosed future, the Clockwork Orange features a violent 15 year old who is taken away and re-educated so that he won’t harm others anymore. An impressive look into a possible society and whether the end justifies the means when it comes to re-educating prisoners, the Cockwork Orange is extremely dark and the main character a terrifying creature who’s horrible actions don’t completely sway us to believe that he deserves his re-education. This world can seem so totally alien to us, but once the scientists and psychologists begin speaking we realise (with horror) that perhaps it’s not so different after all.
My love for speculative fiction is the amazing ability it holds to make this speculation one of horror, intelligence or beauty. Whilst, for me, the first association is with SF and the speculation every SF writer makes about the future and/ or possible technologies of mankind, it can also cover the fantastic and is limited only by the pure speculation of man. For speculative fiction to succeed it need only seem reasonable, no matter how ridiculous in truth it may actually be, and to show the emotional involvement of the characters in this speculation. I particularly enjoy the speculative fiction of Wells, as his fiction was so multi-layered that he was never merely speaking on what we initially saw but his speculative fiction often spread to what truly was happening or what would surely come to pass. Anything that shows the reasonable limits of man, and investigates how society as a whole would cope with adversity is easily my favourite plot in speculative fiction.
With regard to how speculative fiction has changed, the SF spectrum moved into pulp and became more ridiculous and less considered. Writers such as Isaac Asimov have helped that slowly change, with the speculative film Inception proving that we can use gadgets and made up technology to investigate human character without resorting to campy writing and over the top design. I hope that speculative fiction will become widespread, investigating the classic question of ‘What if?’ in science, society and everything else.