Blog 95: Is Speculative Fiction The Genre For You?

February 27, 2020

I love Fantasy it’s my favourite genre to read, but when it comes to writing, I find myself wanting to explore and write in a mixture of different genres. This makes it difficult as an author to choose only one preferred genre.

Traditionally speaking, authors write in one main genre. John Green writes Young Adult Fiction, Isaac Asimov wrote Sci-fi, Terry Brooks writes Fantasy, Stephen King is renowned for writing Horror, but he has also written a little bit of Fantasy. J.K. Rowling wrote Children’s Fantasy and has since moved to Crime, and Marian Keyes writes Romance. If you walk into a bookshop and look at the fiction authors, you will see lots of books written by the same author under one genre.

Sticking to one genre may be helpful when it comes to sorting and shelving books, but there are more and more authors bending the rules and merging genres. Some books even have pie charts on the back cover to show readers the different genres and how much those genres shape the book.

Speculative Fiction is a genre that I came across last year, it is a broad category of fiction which contains elements that do not exist in the real world. It can include parts of Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Dystopian, Utopian and more. Speculative Fiction takes our existing world and changes it by asking ‘What if..?’ One of my favourite books, Warm bodies by Isaac Marion could be considered Speculative Fiction as it contains elements of Romance, Dystopian and Horror.


Name Description Examples
Fantasy 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. The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, How to Train Your Dragon
Science fiction (sci-fi) 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. The Time Machine, I, Robot, Dune, Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, The Left Hand of Darkness, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Jurassic Park
Horror 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. The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Books of Blood, The Hellbound Heart
Utopian Takes place in a highly desirable society, often presented as advanced, happy, intelligent or even perfect or problem-free. Island, Ecotopia, 17776
Dystopian Takes place in a highly undesirable society, often plagued with strict control, violence, chaos, brainwashing or other negative elements. Brave New World, 1984, Brazil, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games
Alternate history Focuses on historical events as if they happened in a different way, and their implications in the present. The Man in the High Castle, The Last Starship from Earth, The Tales of Alvin Maker, The Guns of the South, Fatherland
Apocalyptic Takes place before and during a massive, worldwide catastrophe, typically a climatic or pandemic natural disaster of extremely large scale or a nuclear holocaust. On the Beach, Threads, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012
Post-apocalyptic Focuses on groups of survivors after similar massive, worldwide disasters. The Stand, Mad Max, Waterworld, Fallout, Metro 2033
Superhero Centers on superheroes (i.e., heroes with extraordinary abilities or powers) and their fight against evil forces such as supervillains. Typically incorporates elements of science fiction or fantasy, and may be a subgenre of them. DC Universe, Marvel Universe, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Heroes, Power Rangers
Supernatural Similar to horror, it exploits or requires as plot devices or themes some contradictions of the commonplace natural world and materialist assumptions about it. The Castle of Otranto, Weaveworld, Imajica, Paranormal Activity, Fallen

The possibilities for Speculative Fiction are almost limitless. So far I have written books which merge all of the following genres; Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopian and Crime. I like the idea of being able to take elements from different genres, so Speculative Fiction seems like the perfect genre for me, and it might be the perfect genre for you too.