Literary criticism

Literature in Speculative Times

speculative fiction

Literature in vogue today combines myriad forms and types. Hollywood, a term which I’m deliberately using to refer to all kinds of ‘woods’ that exist around the world including Bollywood and Tollywood, has been a major driving force behind the literature as we see it today. In its entirety, literature today, penned everywhere, is largely inspired by the coming-of-age of millions of people. Or it is inspired by the hidden aspects of the popular myths and their heroes such as in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown. I would regard this trend as literature in speculative times.

Clear illustrations are available in the works of renowned authors who mobilized literary trends and perhaps gave directions to the world cinema. Works by writers like C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie and others deeply influenced readers. However, in my opinion, rather than the authors, it is the reader response that gave impetus to the thoughts that filled the pages in their works. The readers’ desire to live in the future, in a world of fantasy or in times of their mythical characters surfaces easily in what we know today as ‘speculative fiction’.

J. K. Rowling is yet another fine example of speculative fiction that broke all sales barriers. ‘Harry Potter’ series took the world by storm especially among the young readers.

Speculation is an underlying theme in most of the novels today. Commercial success is the biggest reason behind the increasing trend of speculative fiction. It is seen as the gateway to make quick money and to be famous like the wild fire.

Speculative fiction has also mobilized the Indian audience highly in recent times. Here I would like to point to the influence which some of the recent works had on them. Works by Amish Tripathy (Shiva Trilogy) and Anand Neelakantan (Asura) have rendered readers with unseen dimensions of their popular mythical heroes.

Speculative fiction, as a term, was coined by Robert Heinlein in 1941. Speculative fiction is a collective term to describe works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror and also addresses works that are not science fiction, fantasy, or horror, yet don’t rightly belong to the other genres.

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2 replies »

  1. Thanks Onkar . Very interesting observations. Literature takes many twists and turns over spans of time. Don’t we love it all?

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