Greetings, FanLit readers, friends, and potential contributors! We’re launching a new column, Expanded Universe, curated by me, for feature essays that discuss any aspect of speculative fiction.

How do we define the term “speculative fiction”? Well, that’s one thing that this column will end up addressing: given that all fiction exists in the realm of the imagination, what makes some fiction “speculative” and other fiction not? And where do we draw the boundaries within the term for genres like science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, New Weird, slipstream, horror… you get the drift.

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The Expanded Universe

Expanded Universe will feature regular essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers, talking about anything SFF related that interests us. It might be broad themes such as “death” or “gender,” stylistic or technical issues like “how magical systems work” or “how do you build an unreliable narrator in a fantasy world?,” genre issues like “why is SFF ghettoized in the literary world and is this necessarily a bad thing?” or “what is grimdark and why is it important?,” a response to the work of a particular author or group of authors, or anything else that comes to mind — in case you haven’t noticed, we here at FanLit have a pretty open-minded approach to SFF. We’re interested in raising intriguing questions, broadening knowledge, and making meaningful distinctions.

If you have an SFF speculation, obsession, area of expertise, or just want to climb on your soapbox, send me a query. Please include your name, e-mail address, and a short bio along with a brief summary of your intended essay.


  • Kate Lechler

    KATE LECHLER, on our staff from May 2014 to January 2017, resides in Oxford, MS, where she divides her time between teaching early British literature at the University of Mississippi, writing fiction, and throwing the tennis ball for her insatiable terrier, Sam. She loves speculative fiction because of what it tells us about our past, present, and future. She particularly enjoys re-imagined fairy tales and myths, fabulism, magical realism, urban fantasy, and the New Weird. Just as in real life, she has no time for melodramatic protagonists with no sense of humor. The movie she quotes most often is Jurassic Park, and the TV show she obsessively re-watches (much to the chagrin of her husband) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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