In the beginning, there were gods, demons, and ghosts!

The roots of Speculative Fiction reside in humankind’s attempts to explore and possibly understand the unknown or unexplainable. In most cultures, this started with people’s attempts to understand natural forces. Where do tornadoes come from? How do volcanoes erupt? Why do we die?

This goes way back. Let’s say 4,000 to 6,000 years. Some examples:

In Hindu culture you will find Vishnu, the god who rules over all the others: he restores the world when it’s nearing destruction from an overabundance of evil. Each time he’s come to earth (nine times so far), he’s taken on a different shape: fish, pig, turtle, half-man/half-lion, and so on. Another Hindu god, Shiva, has four arms and, on his forehead, a third eye, which is his deadly weapon. He is known as “the Destroyer.”


In southeastern Australia, Gnowee was the aboriginal goddess of the sun–she carries a torch as she climbs the sky every day in search of her missing child.

In Micronesia, the people of the Marshall Islands are fond of telling the story of Tobolar, who is responsible for the coconut, their most important food: when Tobolar was born–as a coconut–his father buried him and from that burial sprang the coconut tree.

In Bantu culture (Kenya) lizards are seen as bad omens because in Bantu mythology the chameleon was supposed to bring humans the gift of immortality but, alas, the chameleon was slow and dawdled distractedly, allowing a different kind of lizard to arrive instead, bringing death to humans.

In the chart below, we outline historical highlights in the “western tradition” of speculative fiction.

The ancient Greeks famously came up with all kinds of stories–we now call them “myths”–to explain their universe. Not only did they have numerous gods to control each part of their cosmos (like Poseidon rules the oceans, Aphrodite rules all matters of love etc.) but also demi-gods, monsters, and odd creatures to explain other elements of the world. Where did wine come from? A party-hearty demi-god, Dionysus, invented it!  How about the unexpected events that turn your life upside-down? You can blame Tyche, goddess of chance, fate, and fortune.

Where did thunder come from? The ancient Japanese god, Raiijin, invented it–accompanied by hefty hammers and big drums. Back in the day, Japanese children were told to cover their bellybuttons during thunderstorms for fear of Raijin eating their stomachs.

Fables & Tales

Ghost Stories


Horror Stories

Monster Stories

Strange Travel

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Ancient myths of sea monsters and dragons

Greek myths in The Odyssey (700 BC)

Beowulf (1000 AD)