speculative fiction n. 1

= science fiction n. 2; (sometimes spec.) hard science fiction n.

Now hist.

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism


  • 1889 M. F. Egan Book-Talk in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine Oct. 597

    Edward Bellamy, in ‘Looking Backward,’ and George Parsons Lathrop, in a short story, ‘The New Poverty,’ have followed the example of Anthony Trollope and Bulwer in speculative fiction put in the future tense.

  • 1947 R. A. Heinlein On Writing of Speculative Fiction in L. A. Eshbach Of Worlds Beyond 11 Robert A. Heinlein

    There are at least two principal ways to write speculative fiction—write about people, or write about gadgets.

  • 1949 R. A. Heinlein Letter 4 Mar. in R. A. Heinlein & V. Heinlein Grumbles from Grave (1990) 49 Robert A. Heinlein

    Speculative fiction (I prefer that term to science fiction) is also concerned with sociology, psychology, esoteric aspects of biology, impact of terrestrial culture on the other cultures we may encounter when we conquer space, etc., without end.

  • 1949 R. A. Heinlein Letter 4 Mar. in R. A. Heinlein & V. Heinlein Grumbles from Grave (1990) 49 Robert A. Heinlein

    Speculative fiction is not fantasy fiction, as it rules out the use of anything as material which violates established scientific fact, laws of nature, call it what you will, i.e., it must [be] possible to the universe as we know it. Thus, Wind in the Willows is fantasy, but the much more incredible extravaganzas of Dr. Olaf Stapledon are speculative fiction—science fiction.

  • 1970 A. McCaffrey Ship who Sang (1991) vi. 249 Anne McCaffrey

    In writing speculative fiction, I feel I have not failed the auspices of my natal day.

  • 1972 R. A. Heinlein Letter 20 Jan. in R. A. Heinlein & V. Heinlein Grumbles from Grave (1990) 245 Robert A. Heinlein

    I have written almost every sort of thing—filler paragraphs, motion picture and TV scripts, poetry… I found that what I did enjoy and did best was speculative fiction. I do not think that this is just a happy coincidence.

  • 1985 B. Hambly Ishmael xv. 207 Barbara Hambly

    The fathers of speculative fiction. Wells dealt in invasion of the Earth.

  • 1991 Locus Nov. 5/3

    Omni has the opportunity to introduce to a large number of readers the delights and fascination of rigorous speculative fiction and non-fiction.

Research requirements

antedating 1889

Earliest cite

Lippincontt's Monthly Magazine

Research History
David Silver submitted a cite from a 1971 reprint of Robert Heinlein's "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction", from Lloyd Eshbach's symposium "Of Worlds Beyond"; Rick Hauptmann verified the cite in the 1947 first edition.
Bill Mullins submitted an example from Robert Heinlein earlier in 1947, in the Saturday Evening Post.
Bill Mullins submitted an 1889 cite from Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.

Earliest cite in OED: 1953.

In addition to antedatings, we are also still interested in pre-1947 cites.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.