Challenges of Writing Speculative Fiction

I am not merely a generic storyteller; I am a teller of speculative stories. Following Michael Moorcock, I ignore genre boundaries. The term ‘slipstream’ is the one I’m most comfortable with. Slipstream describes stories in para-literary genres (scifi, fantasy, horror, detective fiction, etc.) that are written as literature is written.

The writer of speculative stories has an especially difficult task when writing stories that aspire to the literary. Literature after all concerns more with the interior journey of a character than with the exterior. If one is writing a story that includes nonhuman intelligent races, accessing the interior journey becomes somewhat problematic.

The human psyche is—or at least it certainly should be—well understood by any writer with literary pretenses. What of the psyches of nonhuman races?

Assuming a different evolutionary path on a different world; what can we know about the psyches of these races?

It’s tempting to say “nothing”. If we do, however, we leave ourselves in a situation where we can say exactly nothing about the interior journey of any member of a nonhuman race. This puts speculative fiction forever outside the boundaries of literature. I find this unacceptable.

We could go the Star Trek route and assume that all alien races have exactly the same psyches as ours. I consider this lazy, sloppy, and also unacceptable.

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