Speculative Documentary

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"The result is speculation built on fact. What I offer is not a firm prediction - more an exploration of possibilities."
Dougal Dixon, After Man, A Zoology of the Future, Author's Introduction

This genre openly combines elements of traditional documentaries with Speculative Fiction. While the pure Documentary is entirely based on fact, the Speculative Documentary adds elements which are either an interpretation of actual events based on a combination of speculation and extrapolation from known science, or completely fictional. While a Speculative Documentary can also be Hard SF, a Documentary of Lies, or Mockumentary, the Speculative Documentary takes a very scientific approach to asking "what if" that differentiates it from other fiction. While Hard Science Fiction focuses on Characters, Plots and justifying fantastical elements, and the Mockumentary uses a documentary style to tell a dramatic or comedic fictional story, the Speculative Documentary handwaves any fantastical elements and downplays characters and plots to focus on implications and educating viewers about real science.

Examples of Speculative Documentary include:

Envisioning the Distant Past

Envisioning the Distant Future

Envisioning Alien Worlds

Envisioning Alternate Realities

  • Dougal Dixon's third speculative book, The New Dinosaurs (1988) and Specworld show what life might be like if dinosaurs never went extinct.
  • Ivory Extraordinaire: Deadly safaris on an alternate Earth where elephants out-competed all other big herbivores, and carnivores have grown larger to keep up
  • Aftermath: Population Zero explores what would happen to Earth if humans disappeared without a trace. High source of Nightmare Fuel.
    • Like the aforementioned Life After People, that is also based on the book The World Without Us.
    • They also made other "what if" style Aftermath documentaries, which explore topics like what if the world suddenly stopped spinning, what if we completely ran out of oil, and others.
  • CSA: Confederate States of America
  • The Death of a President conjectures the consequences to the United States of America if George W. Bush had been assassinated.

Reverse Engineering Fantasy using Real Science

Mockumentary supported by real science, also known as (in The Other Wiki) a Docu Drama