The bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs live in their own world of books and literary works. Adults, and the younger generation alike, all admire reading. Books are as important to them as food, air, or water. Just like any other segment, avid book readers are spoilt with choices in reading as well. They have an option of choosing from genres ranging from romance, horror, drama to sci-fi, and rom-com, etc. just to name a few. However, off late speculative fiction has taken the spotlight and has created a place for itself in the bookshelves.

The imaginary setting of the stories in the speculative fiction makes the books from this genre stand out from the others. Possessing imaginative, futuristic, dystopian, and even supernatural elements whilst maintaining a slim connection with the reality, these books can be termed as a hybrid genre. These elements Sowing the habit of reading and especially speculative fiction amongst children, and young adults is important owing to the various elements contained in this genre.

Speculative fiction, as mentioned earlier, contains a broad range of topics that books from this genre covers. Introducing youngsters to concepts that range from science to art and everything in between helps students to expand on their imagination, creativity, and comprehension capacity. The genre could even help readers acquire problem-solving skills.

This notion of reading speculative fiction can provide so many benefits mmay sound far fetched, but bear with me while I put my theory forward.

Getting youngsters to pick up a book that deals with science fiction, fantasy, dystopian etc, is relatively easier than getting them to pick up a boring old text book. Having picked up a book, which is a big first step, a lot of books in fiction/fantasy is set in an imaginary world. It forces those who read to actively visualize the written word thereby forcing your brain to develop certain cognitive abilities.

To comprehend the overall literary piece,readers will have to step into the shoes of the characters and read through the characters perspective. In my personal opinion, I belive that this ability helps people understand others better, by putting themselves in others shoes before jumping to conclusions.

A reality simulator perhaps?

The real world is full of growth, challenges, and complications. On reading fiction (speculative or otherwise), students get a good dose of reality check. They will come to understand that life is unpredictable and the future is unforeseen. They will adopt the ideology that we have to surpass all odds and keep moving in life. Fiction, especially speculative fiction deals with the notion of “What if?” These books cover topics that we generally like to sweep under the rug, or ideas we discount as improbably from happening. When 1984, books on AI, or Jurassic park came out, they explored a world where Genetics, AI, new world order were all true. While we discounted a lot of these theories, we now live in a world where these events may come to pass if we aren’t careful. By reading, youngsters and adults realize that change is the only constant and reading could prep them up for the changing times ahead. Hence, book readers tend to accept the disruptions in life and value the reality they live in better than others.

Makes students open-minded, active and inclusive

The narratives of speculative fiction are written with extremities of ideas and emotions. These books force the readers invest heavily on the book, thoughts and emotions alike. This investment makes the students tolerant, inclusive, and open-minded to the changes happening around them.

As I had mentioned earlier reading this unique genre gives the student readers a reality check. This makes them analyze the real world they are living through multiple perspectives. While writing my book, “Illusions of Control” I had to put myself in the shoes of the characters I was writing, and look at the world through their point of view. I wanted my readers to share this experience as well. I believe a lot of pain, and misunderstanding that’s hindering development in today’s world can be solved by just analyzing the world from the perspective of the person or idea you are against. Therefore, I feel those who read speculative fiction become responsible and pro-active in their communities, they don’t hesitate from taking the initiative or facing any hurdle in life.

Students reading speculative fiction stories tend to acquire better problem-solving abilities.. With the ever-changing and twisted narrative, they tend to develop coping skills, and adapt better to change and act based on that change and not get stuck with a linear thought.

Summing Up

Making the students read speculative fiction allows them to explore endless possibilities and ideas through the lens of the imaginative, twisted, and creative speculative fiction narrative. Readers tend to become self-aware and work towards improving their actions, behavior, and vocabulary, and even the community around them. They acquire the skills that will rekindle their imagination and creativity and thereby will contribute to their growth and give them the drive to pursue their dreams.

The surprising bit is that speculative fiction is now recognized as a legit genre but has no specific definition. While readers are increasingly preferring and accepting it, awareness is lower than that of other genres. The world is changing, people’s thoughts and how they process information around them is changing. The world of visual media, where superheroes and mysteries, and science fiction dominate, all stem from speculative works. I believe this is a genre that may take many forms, but is here to stay and make lives better for everyone.

(Author: Mahesh Ratnam Rajan)