How To Read Speculative Fiction 21 June, 2023 – Posted in: Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction – Tags: Books, Reading, SF, Speculative Fiction
An article on how to read speculative fiction sounds like nonsense, doesn’t it? But there are certain aspects to reading genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the myriad of sub genres – that readers of literary fiction may not grasp at first. The stories of speculative fiction (SF), while as nuanced and subtle as any in literature, requires something a little more from its readers.
Firstly, there must be a thorough suspension of disbelief. This is by far the biggest obstacle for the literary reader. It’s much easier to accept that there is a special group of agents seeking to terrorize a government. It’s much harder to accept they are from another planet, dimension, or universe.
In overcoming the first obstacle, the second is more easily approached. This obstacle is the idea that speculative fiction is somehow lesser than other forms of writing. SF fans have long dealt with reactions ranging from mild amusement to outright hostility when revealing their preference in reading materials. This bias has lessend in recent years, however, full acceptance has yet to come.
The third obstacle is the language of SF. For those that are new to SF there are suddenly new words that might have little to no meaning in their lives. While words created by SF authors have worked their way into mainstream life today, at the beginning they are new and unfamiliar. Author created words like cyberspace and muggle offer flavour and interest, but require time for assimilation and understanding.
Lastly, there must be a willingness to enjoy SF. Reading SF without intent to enjoy is pointless. Nothing can break down a wall of self-imposed opposition.
Reading SF is fun. It’s meant to be fun. However, there’s more to SF than action and imaginative worlds. SF reflects the world we live in, and the best SF shows us how much better it can be. If you’ve not read speculative fiction before you should ask yourself, why not?