Familiarizing Grist Village

Why I Write Speculative Fiction


  • Larissa Lai University of Calgary




Larissa Lai explains that she writes speculative fiction in order to embrace her own writerly agency. She takes up the practice of the thought experiment, first envisioned by Ursula LeGuin, as a way of narratively testing out ideas that could be practiced in the world as it is. Lai adds to this by recognizing that the world changes in multiple ways at once, and that we get new worlds and fresh futures not through a single change but through the concatenation of many, often driven by differing ideals. We can’t predict the results of ideals interacting, but we can learn to recognize beautiful, freeing or interesting things when they emerge. The marvel of speculative fiction is that it can show us how this might work, as for example in The Tiger Flu, Lai's novel about a community of self-reproducing women and a disease that favours men.