The Beauty of Speculation

Speculation n. [L. speculatio a spying out, observation: cf. F. spéculation.]: a thought or conjecture, supposition, contemplation or consideration of a subject, mental view of anything in its various aspects and relations, power of sight (archaic), intellectual examination.

Sometimes by exploring the unfamiliar, we see the familiar more clearly. Speculative storytelling involves a consideration of the familiar from a new aspect, a unique angle that lends fresh insight. In the exploration of “what ifs” and the examination of a concept in its “various aspects and relations” new light is shed on matters mundane and spectacular. These stories have infinite variety, but they all spring from a seed of speculation.

What if society divided itself into factions, each individual forced to choose one dominating virtue to the neglect of the rest? How would that shape culture…and individual lives?

What if rings meant for good were corrupted by a ring meant for domination and evil? What suffering would that unleash on a world and what price would it take to gain redemption?

These and many other what if questions sprawl across the pages of speculative novels, and in stories of this sort, timeless themes–redemption, virtue, sacrifice–gain deeper meaning as they’re considered through a new lens. That which we easily take for granted becomes wondrous when we consider it with fresh eyes. And in the what ifs, we find a glimmers of insight into what is. That’s the beauty of speculation.

Image credit: Miss Millificent

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2 Responses to The Beauty of Speculation

  1. Shawn Henderson says:

    Well put, Sarah. Often that’s what gets any novel started, by “what if”. “What if there were two moons in the sky?” “What if a spy who was faced with betraying his country or the lives of those he loves?” “What if there is more to the world than all of… this.” One thing is for certain: no one can learn everything because there are simply too many insights and wonders in the world.

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Shawn! I agree that all novels require some degree of exploring the unknown, and I think one of the joys of writing speculative fiction is we have even more room for the what ifs and some unique ways to depict the wonders of the world.

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