Speculative fiction—an umbrella term I use to encompass the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres—has long had a reputation problem. Stemming back from the early days of cheap pulp-fiction during the golden age, science fiction in particular has been the red-headed stepchild of literary fiction. But the global mindset of the reading population is finally coming around—one look at the influence of speculative fiction in pop culture proves that. Moreover, beyond pop-culture references, science fiction, fantasy and horror are literally invading our streets and watching us from the skies...but in a good way.
Here' a look at how real life honors science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Science Fiction Author Gets a Rock Named After Him
Scottish author Iain M. Banks is notable in science-fiction circles for his Culture novels, a series about an advanced, interstellar society managed by advanced, benevolent artificial intelligences. They also have the tendency to use hollowed-out asteroids as vehicles of transportation, travelling faster than the speed of light. In this futuristic post-scarcity society, production and physical labor is largely accomplished by machines, everything if free, and as a result, crime is low and there is little need for law enforcement. The science-fiction field was dealt a strong blow with Banks' passing and he will be remembered by his canon of Culture novels (the latest of which is The Hydrogen Sonata)
Banks will be immortalized in another way. Taking a cue from the Culture itself, Dr. Jose Luis Galache of the Minor Planets Centre in Cambridge, Mass., applied to have an asteroid named after the author, a tribute conceived when Banks was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The application was approved. From now on, Asteroid 5099 will now officially be known as Iainbanks. Sadly, Mr. Banks did not live to see this honor bestowed upon him. He died two weeks before the renaming became official.
The Intersection of H.P. and Lovecraft
H.P Lovecraft is a legend in the field of horror fiction. Born in Providence, R.I., the author carved a name for himself by writing eerie, gothic horror fiction that tapped into the base fears of humanity. His fiction was essentially immortalized with the creation of the Cthulhu mythos, a series of connected stories about an ancient race of otherworldly creatures. The Cthulhu mythos has since been expanded by countless authors since the first story Lovecraft wrote ("The Call of Cthulhu" in a 1928 issue of Weird Tales) and it's still going strong. Many of today's writers cite Lovecraft as a major influence of their writing. For examples, see Black Wings of Cthulhu: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by S.T. Joshi, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
Recently, Lovecraft's hometown of Providence honored the author by naming an intersection after him. The intersection of Prospect and Angell Streets has been renamed as "H.P. Lovecraft Square." Not far from here is Lovecraft's home and the library where he often wrote his particular brand of dark fiction. I haven't visited H.P. Lovecraft Square, but I hear that, so far, there has been no sign of winged creatures with octopuslike heads and faces full of feelers.
I Live on The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman is one of speculative fiction's superstars whose works spans books, comics and graphic novels, theater, television and films. He's known for his popular Sandman series of graphic novels, his books Stardust and Coraline (which were adapted into films) and for winning a Hugo Award for his work writing an episode of Doctor Who. Earlier this year, Gaiman released The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a novel about a man who finds the horrible memories of a decades-old accident resurfacing when he returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral.
Even more recently, Gaiman was honored by Portsmouth, England, the town where he was born, which saw fit to name a street after Gaiman's latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Gaiman was noted in a recent issue of Locus Magazine as saying, "When you make things up, you never expect them to creep out into the real world." Indeed, this street naming is just one of the ways in which the world of fiction affects the world in which we live.