Speculative Fiction Or Speculative Civilization? Essay

845 words - 4 pages

Speculative Fiction is defined as a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements (dictionary.com). Therefore, by its very nature speculative fiction explores possible societal reactions to certain events. For instance, in Jules Verne’s novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo creates a submarine vessel that resembles a gigantic narwhal and accidentally crashes into a ship, the Scotia. Society, not understanding it was human err, responds by launching a search for this ‘deadly’ being in an effort to purge the world of this creature. Another example comes from H. G. Wells’ novel, War of the Worlds. In the novel, Martians come to Earth and terrorize humankind. Wells did a reading on the radio which many people tuned in to (without realizing they were hearing a fictitious story) and reacted with mass hysteria. Other examples of fictitious societal reactions to certain aspects of speculative fiction include: Chindi by Jack McDevitt – a futuristic novel— and Drowned Giant by J.G. Ballard – a novel with mystical creatures.
In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Professor Pierre Aronnax (M. Aronnax) investigates the occurrence of a stricken ship, and the probable cause. He examines hypotheses including one that the object that struck the ship were, in fact, a man-made submarine vessel, but quickly discards this as it would be nearly impossible to build a machine of such power and size without notice. This shows how even the most civil of citizens can succumb to the power of the masses and fear of rejection from the community. In chapter two Professor M. Aronnax internally discusses his publication of theory: “I reserved for myself a way of escape. In effect, however, I admitted the existence of the ‘monster’” (Verne, 14). This shows how civilization has grown to be; a group of people that enact a set of rules, or morals, no matter their personal predisposition.
One aspect of civilization is perception, people only perceive what society has deemed acceptable. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the character M. Aronnax justifies his initial perception of the Nautilus as a marine mammal: “It explained to me how natural it was, in spite of all glasses, that this boat should have been taken for a marine animal” (Verne, 73) For, in the time of M. Aronnax, submarine vessels were considered a wild idea, so justly he accepted what society pressured.
One rule or moral in almost all forms of civilization is a near – if not totally – absolute ruler. In...

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