Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 22, 2024

S is for Speculative Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter S

For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the genre/category and an example or two. I would love to know your thoughts on the genre/category and if you have any reading suggestions. Be sure to check out all of my A to Z posts.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

Speculative fiction is a "supergenre". If you think of an organizational chart with Literature at the top which splits into nonfiction and fiction, and then fiction splits into Speculative Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, etc. Speculative fiction splits into Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate History, etc. 

Speculative fiction explores "What If" - what if there is a totalitarian government, what if humans travel through space at Warp 9, what if the British had won the American Revolution, etc.

Wikipedia states that speculative fiction departs from realism or a strict adherence to everyday reality. 

I'm part of a post-apocalyptic book club but we actually read a wide range of speculative fiction. I had never read a book of alternate history until this book and now one of my favorite series is alternate history.

The term speculative fiction arose because critics and writers wanted something to describe science fiction that didn't adhere to scientific principles.  

Works of speculative fiction predate the coinage of the term in the 20th century. There are a number of works from Ancient Greece that today are considered speculative fiction. The term is attributed to Robert Heinlein who first used the term in The Saturday Evening Post in 1947. For Heinlein, though, he used the term as a synonym for science fiction and did not include fatansy. Though the Heinlein is credit for the term, there is evidence that speculative fiction (or speculative literature) appear in 1889. In the 1970s the term faded into the background only to make a comeback in the 2000s. When it reappeared the definition had been expanded to include among other subgenres of fantasy, alternate history, etc.

Those authors who write in the English language are mostly men. Though there are a few subgenres that are dominated by women.

One of my favorite works of speculative fiction is part of the Lady Astronaut series. 

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

book cover of alternate history novel The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowla

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

Buy The Calculating Stars at Amazon

Read my review.

Do you read Speculative Fiction? Do you have any favorites?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter today! Or Follow Girl Who Reads with Bloglovin. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. One of my favourite genres. I write a bit in it as well. My favourite speculative fiction author is probably fantasy writer Piers Anthony. After I stumbled across On a Pale Horse, I was compelled to read all seven books in the Incarnations of Immortality series.

  2. I generally don't read speculative fiction, but this one sounds interesting. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. This isn't a genre I've read massively but I think Stephen King's 11.22.63 is a good fit for it and I enjoyed that one

  4. I read a bit of speculative fiction, but I don't actively seek it out.

    Ronel visiting for S: My Languishing TBR: S