Thursday, October 10, 2013

Genre Talk—So What is SPECULATIVE Fiction Anyway?

I was talking with a non-publishing friend a while back, and she asked me what kind of book I was writing.  I told her about my science fiction series and my Steampunk series. Then I said, “Actually the short answer is I write spec.”

At her blank look, I corrected myself. “Speculative fiction.”

If anything her look got more confused, and I realized she had no idea what I was talking about when I said speculative. So I took the opportunity to explain the term to her.

Speculative, or spec for short, is the umbrella genre where you find science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk—most of what touches on the supernatural. If you go into a mainstream bookstore it’s all the books you find in the science fiction/fantasy section.

And this lead me to an interesting distinction about this term. It’s one you almost exclusively used in the Christian fiction world.

That’s not all that surprising if dig a little and consider the history of Christian fiction. When Christian fiction  began to emerge, there was a deep prejudice against science fiction. Many thought that there could never be such a thing as Christian science fiction.

Odd if you think about it, considering the works of C.S. Lewis, and some of the late nineteenth century writers. Although, strictly speaking his works were fantasy, not science fiction (the difference between fantasy and Science Fiction will be my next Genre Talk post).

But back to speculative. These are books where the main components are supernatural. You will still find some romances that have a minor supernatural element shelved with the romance books.

Many of the large Christian publishing houses have spec lines. But the leader of speculative fiction in the Christian world is MarcherLord Press. They ONLY publish spec fiction. And beyond that, they push the envelope on what’s acceptable. For example one of their newest releases is Amish Vampires in Space. Think I’m kidding, here’s a great review from Lisa Godfrees

Speculative is a genre whose time has come in the Christian Publishing World. I encourage you to look for spec titles at your local Christian bookstore.

Here are some sites (beyond the two I've mentioned) where you can explore more about speculative fiction:

Now I'd love to know who are some of your favorite spec authors. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Hi Edie -

    Thanks for highlighting this genre.

    My book is labeled Futuristic/Fantasy on Amazon and other outlets because it takes place in 2025. Yet, there are no aliens, spaceships, and the only supernatural elements are strictly in line with Scripture. I stay away from anything with occult elements. So, I guess my book comes under the Speculative umbrella for lack of a better term.

    James L. Rubart, Frank Peretti, and Kathryn Mackel stand out in my mind as examples of Christian Speculative Fiction authors. I've read many of their books.

    Susan :)

  2. Susan, don't apologize for the label. Supernatural actually means beyond natural—and isn't that what the Holy Spirit is working in us? Many mistakenly believe that occult and supernatural are synonyms and they're not. Thanks for chiming in! Blessings, E

  3. Thank God for the BRMCWC and what it has taught me. I never really had aspirations to write a book. I blog and do nonfiction. When I was growing up I was taught or at least perceived the word fiction to be synonymous with the word lie and wanted no part of it. Thanks to the Conference I have come to understand Jesus told stories and he did not lie. So it is not wrong to tell stories as long as they help people understand the truth. Yes I have some almost stone age views, but thanks to the Good Lord I am growing out of them. This blog helped me understand better the differences in the genres. Thanks !!!!! I needed that...

    1. Ric, the importance is telling the stories that illustrate Truth. I'm glad BRMCWC helped clarify things in your mind. You have a lot to share! Blessings, E

  4. Ric,

    Your perception of fiction versus lie is, unfortunately, commonly held.

    In reality, the opposite of lie is truth.

    The opposite of fiction is non-fiction.

    1. Carrie, very well spoken. Thanks so much for dropping by, Blessings, E

  5. I've always felt a kindrid spirit with spec fiction writers (I think that means I'm weird). I think a lot of them, like me, find ourselves between genres. My current wip takes place after the Great Crash in post-America America. But no zombies, nukes, or roving bands of canibailistic bikers (mine are vegetarians). It's just a mystery wrapped inside a story of America's rediscovery. Chip MacGregor said just write it and see what happens. Perhaps I should create my own genre.

    1. Ron, I hate to break it to you, but from your description you story fits solidly within the spec fiction category. Welcome to the family! Blessings, E

  6. Hey Edie,
    I love spec stories. Have you written any book before that is full of speculative fiction? Thanks for mentioning the spec sites.