Speculation and Fiction
The term speculation has, among others, two specific strands of meaning: thinking/narrating the realm of the possible and describing a form of economy that borders on the fluctuations in the material value of a marketable good. In both the strands, speculation is largely based on what constitutes the material. As Ursula K. Le Guin writes, Margaret Atwood’s fundamental resistance against terming her work ‘science fiction’ is the anticipated near-materialization of the nature of her imagined world: “In her recent, brilliant essay collection, Moving Targets, she (Atwood) says that everything that happens in her novels is possible and may even have already happened, so they can’t be science fiction, which is “fiction in which things happen that are not possible today” (Le Guin 2009).
Thinking the material then also calls for thinking the generic; if science fiction gathers meaning by a sense of the impossible, the materialization of many such incomprehensible things in today’s society has dismantled the values of generic difference. Speculative fiction then is marked by dissolute boundaries, overlapping territories, generic mutations. One can think of a number of genres routinely categorized these days under this broad term, like fantasy, supernatural fiction, teen fiction, horror and vampire fiction, science fiction, etc. In that sense, how does one approach the realm of the speculative, in thought as well as in fiction?
The other strand of meaning which is not entirely dissociated from the first advocates for a particular form of practising economy. Speculative finance, as Ritu Birla (2006) so efficiently shows, is linked with the rise and legitimation of gambling in colonial cities, the public enthusiasm for which could be historicised, following Ian Hacking’s brilliant study (1990), in the institutionalization of probability and chance in the Victorian navigational discourse. To put squarely then: speculation is an act of fiction where fiction is allotted the nature of something-not-being-there, and that speculation is linked with imperial strategies of governance. Is it why so many of the speculative novels involve the scientific-military-complex, the neo-regimes of imperialism, the ecological concerns, and the ethics of humanity – in short, the possibility of living? Could a study of speculative fiction then help us understand the complex interrelations in factors geographical, financial, and political in oil-rich areas? At the same time, could speculation always already entail the fiction of the fictive?
We would like to tap these potential gestures in this call for papers through topics that may not be limited to these:
- Speculation and/as Thought
- Speculative, Fantastic, Imaginary
- Genres of Speculative Fiction
- Speculation in Performance and Visual Art
- Speculation and New Wave Cinema
- Speculation and Political Economy
- Chance, Probability, Logic, Speculation
- Speculation, Hydrocarbon, Oil
- Speculation and Ethics
- Animal Studies and Speculation
- Sciences of the Speculation
- Speculation and Space/Topography
Prospective papers addressing the issue should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30, 2015. The decisions will be communicated to the authors by June 30, 2015. The papers should be between 4000 and 7000 words in length excluding notes and references, sent along with an abstract not exceeding 200 words and five or six keywords. For further information on style and guidelines, please log on to: http://sanglap-journal.in/