crystal balls

From Speculative Fiction

29.1.2020 09:54
What does spefi mean?

Speculative fiction is a popular genre of literature, although not even all of us librarians know what it means. The use of the term abbreviated to spef has only become more common in recent years. Fantasy, science fiction, supernatural horror, and all literature that breaks the boundaries of realism are placed under it. Close concepts of the term include dystopia, magical realism, and funnily translated new weird.

I write about spef not only to popularize the term, but also because I have a fantasy disability. I don't get excited about books with elves and goblins, and where you jump through forests with a sword in your hand looking for dragons and fallen princesses. I do like Harry Potter, even though I was already in my thirties when the book series started 20 years ago. The Narnia series was the hardest thing in my childhood, right after the Tarzans, but as an adult, the agenda contained in both of them somewhat disturbs the reading experience. Especially in Tarzans. Spefi sounds more attractive than fantasy to my ears, maybe the term was invented to attract fantasy freaks like me to goblins and sword and magic...

Children and young people have always been interested in speculative fiction books. I myself read all Stephen King's books many times in the 80s, now during my library career that has lasted more than a quarter of a century, young people have sometimes devoured books about ghosts (Goosepumps), clones (Replica), vampires (Twilight) and zombies (Walking dead). The last 20 years especially about wizards.

I asked librarian Tiina Rossi and library clerk Sari Toivose about spefi information. According to them, the next Harry Potter-like smash hit could be Jessica Townsend's Nevermoor series. Its first volume, published a couple of years ago, is high on the list of the most borrowed spefi books of the Imatra city library. Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats have maintained their popularity, although Rossi questions their fantasticness a bit: in his opinion, they can be considered just ordinary animal books. They were what they were, they are very popular, and popular events have been organized around them in several libraries. Even in Imatra.

Rick Riordan is still popular, now the Magnus Chase series, inspired by Scandinavian mythology, has overtaken the Percy Jackson series. Kiera Cass's Valinta series is also high on the list. Ross is especially impressed by the fact that Bjørn Sortland and Timo Parvela's Kepler 62 series is on the most quoted list. According to him, the books in the series are well written, despite their emphasis on images, and they don't shy away from telling even harsh things. Spefi's winning streak will certainly continue. I believe that domestic books will increase in popularity, for example Magdalena Hai and Anniina Mikama seem like interesting authors even to an adult.

The most read spefi book by adults on Imatra is Mats Strandberg's Risteily at the moment. Stephen King has gratifyingly maintained his popularity, as there are four of his works in the top ten of the most quoted spefi books at the adult store Imatra. King's continued popularity is probably based to some extent on middle school and high school native reading lists. The most surprising name at the top of the adult list is Nora Roberts, who until now has been known mainly as a writer of romantic entertainment novels. Happily, the list also includes domestic writer Emmi Itäranta.

The future of speculative fiction is bright. Television series like Game of Thrones and The Witcher increase its popularity. The continuation of these is about to be made into a film adaptation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time book series, after that we will definitely be taking Jordan's brutally extensive book series out of storage for new readers.