On Saturday 5th November, authors, editors, publishers, critics, film-makers and readers from all over Australia are converging on the NSW Writers Centre for a day spent celebrating Speculative Fiction. I’ll be there, taking part in a panel and also reading from my story, Unexpected Launch, as part of the official launch of the Anywhere But Earth anthology from Coeur De Lion Publishing. Margo Lanagan and Richard Harland will also be reading as part of that launch.

There’s going to be loads going on, two official book launches, panels and even a chance to listen to publishers and pitch them your story idea one-on-one. That is some valuable opportunity, right there. All the details can be found here. Move fast, because places for that are limited.

In the meantime, Festival curator Kate Forsyth, asked a bunch of the attending guests just what “speculative fiction” is. The answers are excellent, and I’m reposting them here from Newsbite, the NSWWC Newsletter, which you can sign up for at the NSWWC site.

So what, exactly, is Speculative Fiction?

The dictionary defines it as a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements (which seems to me to cover just about all kinds of fiction).

So I thought I would ask some of the guests appearing at the festival. Since they write it, they should know what it is. Shouldn’t they?

We can only speculate.

Alan Baxter: ‘All fiction, by definition, is speculative, but “speculative fiction” as a genre encompasses all stories that refuse to be bound by what’s real, what’s known or what’s proven – they’re stories which expand beyond the mundane to very edges of our imagination and reflect us back to ourselves from every conceivable angle.’

DM Cornish: ‘Speculative fiction is the search to make the wondrous and the mythic, comprehensible and portable.’

Richard Harland: ‘Speculative Fiction is the imagination unleashed! And the imagination is mightier than the sword or the pen or anything!’

Pamela Freeman:‘Speculative fiction:
When the world doesn’t work the way scientists think it should –
When the world works the way poets and children think it should –
When the world works.’

Colin Harvey: ‘Speculative fiction is escapism for some, reality for the rest of us.’

Jack Heath: ‘Most fiction is written to make the real seem ludicrous. Speculative fiction is the art of making the ludicrous seem real.’

Margo Lanagan: ‘In a nutshell, “Speculative Fiction” is a handy term for referring to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror and their various leakages into each other. More personally, those words are an invitation to take my story to as strange a place as I need to go to say the things I can’t say more straightforwardly.’

Karen Miller: ‘It’s the genre that takes the brakes off our imagination.’

Belinda Murrell: ‘Speculative fiction is a genre which plays with the boundaries of the known and the possible.’

What do I think?

From the beginning of time, humans have been dreaming of impossible things – of worlds and times and creatures and circumstances beyond what is known and charted. They have looked at the vast mystery of the universe and asked, ‘What if …?’ Then they have told stories that give voice to those impossible dreams, thereby making them, perhaps, one day, possible.

So if you dream of impossible things – like being the next J.K Rowling (or George R.R. Martin, or Stephanie Meyer, or Sir Terry Pratchett, or Stephen King, or Margaret Atwood, or Frank Herbert, or Diana Gabaldon, or Neil Gaiman, or even the next George Lucas), come along to the NSW Writers Centre on Saturday, 5th November, and discover this most exciting and adventurous of literary genres.

Kate Forsyth is curating the NSW Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival on Saturday 5 November. Be there!