We're pleased to welcome speculative fiction author Kathy Disanto to the Salon today, giving her take on Speculative Fiction. Be sure to check out her latest release, Amanda's Eyes.
Some Thoughts on Speculative Fiction
I’ve been thinking a lot about speculative fiction lately.
According to Wikipedia, the world’s would-be authority on just about everything, “Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history ….” Etc.
My first thought was, “Who knew weird fiction was a genre?” But I was afraid that would make me look ignorant, so I decided to run with my second and third thoughts here. Nobody wants to come off dumb when they’re guest blogging, right?
Speculative. As in, speculation. Bottom line, isn’t that what all fiction is? You see a woman running in the rain, desperately trying to catch a bus already pulling away from the curb. If you’re a writer, you might start to speculate. Where was the bus supposed to take her? What happens now that she’s missed it? Does the tall, dark, handsome stranger sitting near the back hook up with someone else? Does she arrive late for that job interview, lose out, and wind up living in a Pontiac? Or does she miss the hijacking and live to run in the rain another day? If you speculate long and hard enough, you might end up with the next New York Times bestseller.
So if all fiction is speculation, what makes us so special? Why do we get to be speculative? Fantastical? (Gosh, that sounds neat. I could really get into being fantastical.)
Here’s my take on that. For what it’s worth.
Human nature is complex, fascinating and, at the root, unchanging. We’ve been story-tellers, artists, lovers, scrappers, thieves, and liars since Adam. We’re continually curious, forever intent on finding a better, easier way to do whatever. We get proud of ourselves and down on ourselves. We’re noble and depraved and kind and self-serving. Just like we’ve always been.
That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
IMHO (not bad for a junior senior citizen, eh?) speculative fiction looks at human nature and says, “What if?” in a big way.What if he could fly? Or read minds? What if she came face to face with the dead-slash-undead? What if our enemy had weapons so powerful, we had nothing that could withstand them? What if he woke up as a six-foot cockroach? How would human nature express itself then? Would we triumph, or would we all fall down?
As speculative fiction writers, we take our readers on journeys of exploration by unleashingfantasticalpossibilities. We teleport folks to places they’ve never gone and drop them into situations most of them couldn’t have imagined without us.
Listen, people. Do we know how to push the envelope, or what?
Now here’s the best part. The morefantasticalthe story, the more our readers are liable toget in touch with who and what they are. With who weare collectively. Whether they know it or not, they’ll be faced with questions about what it means to be human and to live among other humans, then and now.They’ll visit worlds where they cancontemplate the boundaries of our shared humanity andour place in the universe. Maybe beyond.
“But wait,” you say. “All I ever wanted to do was spin a whopping good yarn. Scare the pants off them or weird them out or transport them to a galaxy far, far away.”
That’s all right. Just because you don’t mean to dig deeper, doesn’t mean you’re not.You are, after all, fantastical.
Amanda’s EyesWaking up is the pits when you come to in a hospital with a broken arm, a colorful assortment of abrasions and contusions, and a face swathed in bandages. It’s even worse if you can’t remember what hit you.
The bad and the ugly are crime reporter Amanda “A.J.” Gregson’s business. But learning she had a ringside seat for an explosion that killed two agents of the Continental Intelligence and Investigative Service (CIIS), incinerated an entire block of warehouses, and did so much damage to her eyes they had to be surgically removed? Well, that gives the darker side of life a whole new meaning.
Haunted by elusive nightmares, A.J. waits for her transplant and struggles to remember the events leading up to the fateful night of September 4, 2075. Weeks crawl by without a glimmer, before memory finally floods back the night before surgery, every detail brutally clear.
The explosion had been the work of the Ferrymen.
“The Ferrymen. My not-so-magnificent obsession for more than a year. Only a cataclysm could have made me forget. I guess you could call them hitmen. You could also call Einstein a math whiz. Think ruthless. Think unstoppable. Think killers so proficient ‘caught the ferry’ was fast replacing ‘bought the farm’ in common usage, and you have the Ferrymen in a nutshell.”The transplant surgery goes off without a hitch—welcome news, because A.J. is raring for a rematch with Hell’s Boatmen. But contrary to popular belief, what you see isn’t always what you get. Take her new eyes, for example. Those baby blues may look perfectly normal, but they possess a power that turns her world upside down—the power to see into the hidden dimensions of the human heart.
When the Sight unmasks the mastermind behind the Ferrymen, the unveiling is as stunning as it is unbelievable. The revelation sets her on course for a second head-collision with evil. Will she survive the final encounter?
Kathy DiSanto writes speculative fiction, specifically, science fiction with a paranormal twist. Her near-future thriller, Amanda’s Eyes, is currently available for download through Amazon. She will self-publish a straight sci-fi novel, Why Live?, this December. Mind Games, the second book in the A.J. Gregson series, is already in the works. Find out more about Kathy by visiting her website.