Why We Love Spec-Fic

Wicked & Tricksy

Get ready to get tricksy! I’m jumping into the Something Wicked blogfest to spread my love for spec-fic. The folks over at Wicked & Tricksy started us off with three excellent questions, so away we go:

1. Name 3 of your favorite spec-fic stories (books, movies, tv shows, anything goes!)
First of all, someone was very cruel in limiting us to three. I’ve read a lot of amazing stories across all sub-genres of spec-fic, but my first love is fantasy.

Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Space colonies and dragons – does it get any better? Lessa remains one of my favorite heroines to this day.

Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan
Readers tend to love the series or hate it, but it’s hard to beat Jordan’s characterization. I admire how even his throw-away characters have their own stories.

Stardust, Neil Gaiman
Adventure, comedy, romance, evil witches, falling stars – this movie has it all…and, oh yeah, Robert De Niro in a dress! Gaiman is a great story-teller and the movie did it justice.

2. Tell us why YOU love spec-fic – what plot line, character type, story trope, setting, time, place is your absolute favorite.
I confess my deep and undying devotion to spec-fic every time I enter a library or a Barnes & Noble. It takes the best elements of other genres—romance, history, suspense—and adds a touch of wonder and magic!

It has adventure, love, big glorious good-vs-evil showdowns, and characters that make us feel like we’ve known them all our lives. (And let’s face it, some fantasy series are so huge, that we probably have.) One of my favorite cover flaps of all time is from M.M. Kaye’s historical fiction epic, The Far Pavilions. It says, in part:

“We all remember certain sweeping novels we hated to see come to an end; it was almost like breaking up with someone we love…a passionate, triumphant story that excites us, fills us with joy, moves us to tears and makes us remember just what it is we want most from a novel.”

THAT’s what fantasy is for me. Ironically, of course, I have quoted how I feel about fantasy from a non-fantasy book. *grin*

I also once came across a fabulous comment from another blogger who said what he loves most about fantasy is the honor. He nailed it! There is a very precious and mysterious aspect to spec-fic novels that makes readers yearn to be part of some higher code and righteous struggle.

It lifts us up and transcends our current fast-paced, Me-centered, instant-info (and in many ways very wonderful) reality. It gives us characters to believe in and makes us believe there might be something out there worth fighting for.

I read and like many other genres, but I’ve never found one I love quite as dearly as fantasy. Whether it’s dragons, deep space, alternate worlds or vampires, I can’t get enough (especially the dragons!). 

3. Take a guess if you can: where do you see spec-fic stories going in the next two, five, ten years? What will be popular and how will the sub-genres have changed?
It’s hard to predict what’ll be on the shelves tomorrow, much less years from now. I do think the pace of books will continue to increase. YA and urban fantasy are the pace-setters right now with incredibly fast, tightly weaving action, and I think the other sub-genres of spec-fic will follow.

Although epic fantasy is dear to my heart, I also see that giving way to more futuristic, dystopian and alt-history subgenres.

So, now that I’m done singing its praises, what do YOU love most about fantasy? Share it here and hop over to Wicked & Tricksy to see what others say.


  1. I love the good vs evil aspect of speculative too. It's something I love to explore through my writing and in the books I read. And it is so good to escape the self-centeredness of reality and think about issues that affect us all.

  2. Stardust! That was a very fun movie. And De Niro was hilarious.

    I agree with what you said on how it transcends our reality. Imagine a sweeping epic taking place in some condensed city, right now. It doesn't feel right. It doesn't work. But put it in a far away, imaginary world, and it's perfect.

  3. Miss Cole - I know, isn't it great to just escape into a good book for a while!

    GK - I love when De Niro does his manly walk in full drag. :) You have a really good point about setting being a key factor in creating the sweeping tone for a novel. I enjoy urban fantasy a lot for its gritty, sassy adventure, but it can't quite reach the level of epic-ness for me that books set in far off places can!

  4. I absolutely love Stardust too. So true about fantasy transcending our real lives. THAT'S why we all love it; it gives us something to aspire to, but something we can never reach so we get to dream our whole lives.

  5. You know? I've honestly never cared much for the movie Stardust. It always seemed to come off as unrealistic and a bit ridiculous.

    I might have to take a look at Dragonflight, that looks like something I might like :D

  6. Angeline: "...it gives us something to aspire to, but something we can never reach so we get to dream our whole lives." YES - this!

    Taylor: Heehee, Stardust is definitely a bit ridiculous. :) Sort of like Princess Bride. I really recommend Dragonflight, though. McCaffrey creates a great world, great characters and great story. I've re-read it so often I think the cover's about to fall off!

  7. As someone on the "hate with a burning passion" side, I have to ask...

    by "characterization" do you mean Jordan's supreme ability to create annoyingly bland characters who deserve to die a million bloody deaths? If so, you're right. He can't be beat. ;)

    I agree about honor being a vital element of fantasy, a call to something higher. Sadly, this seems to be fading away from much of recent fantasy. I can only hope that the genre bounces back to what it used to and should be.

  8. Also, I don't see an option for following your blog and I would like to. You should add a follow widget. :)

  9. Sarah,

    I added the follow widget. :) Thanks for wanting to keep up with the blog!

    I guess I really, truly don't see Jordan's characters as bland. I know a lot of people do, but I've gotta admit I love 'em and find them very intriguing. Never really understood that argument...Guess it's just different tastes.