I’m a speculative fiction junkie. I love it.
What is it, you may ask.
Speculative Fiction is rather a new term to cover an immense chunk of literature that ranges from classic novels to fantasy. It really has only one staple; it must be set in a variation of the “real world,” with supernatural elements to it. Thus, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is Speculative Fiction. The Pirates of the Caribbean is Speculative Fiction. Sleepy Hollow, Warm Bodies, Sanctuary, and even Harry Potter are Speculative Fiction. It involves magic, dragons, sorcerers, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, sirens, curses, mummies, and just about anything else your imagination can fire up that don’t really exist but that we love all the same.
My favorite Speculative Fiction blends realism (real places, people, and things) with the fantastical. That is exactly what Fox’s Sleepy Hollow is doing. It tears Ichabod Crane out of fighting in the Revolutionary War and thrusts him into the modern age, where he must work together with a sassy young cop to stop the appending apocalypse. Yes, you heard that right. The series paints the Headless Horseman as Death, one of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. The mastermind behind all the evil that transpires in the series is Moloch, from Paradise Lost. There are good witches (we assume, but we can’t know for certain, since Katrina is shut up in an alternate dimension) and bad, and all manner of monster and demon just waiting to descend and wreak havoc on the formerly sleepy little town.
The series plays fast and loose with historical events, implying George Washington was involved in preventing the first wave of the Apocalypse and that the reason for the Boston Tea Party was actually to create a distraction so they can steal an ancient book from the British. It might cause historians to tear their hair out in frustration, but my reaction to it was “… dude, that’s cool. Damn it, why didn’t I think of it?” If I can accept the history-altering theories of National Treasure are true, why not this?
Given my objections to “tampering” at times with literature and history, I’ll say openly that whether or not I approve relies entirely on how historical the work in question professes to be. If this were a deliberately serious take on history, professing to tell the entire truth, I wouldn’t appreciate it, but it’s a fantastical take on it and therefore doesn’t have to stick to the facts 100%. (This, primarily, is my complaint with Philippa Gregory, who professes to write historical accuracy and doesn’t. But that’s another hate-filled rant for another time.)
I try to be discerning when it comes to Speculative Fiction and the motivation behind it, particularly when it ties my faith into the mix. That can be tricky, because secular authors aren’t respectful of Christianity when dealing with it on screen. I stuck with Supernatural for three seasons and abandoned it when its depiction of angels and God didn’t sit well with me. Given that I have no real defined opinion on the Book of Revelation, and am open to the idea that it is primarily symbolic, Sleepy Hollow inferring that the Horseman is Death doesn’t bother me one bit,* and neither does the magic. But that’s me. You’re you and if it bothers you, don’t watch it.
But, if like me, you’ve always loved Speculative Fiction, Sleepy Hollow offers up a fantastical adventure full of hilariousness from Ichabod, sassiness from Abby, and a number of monsters, fiends, complicated plots, and twists to set your hair on end. And thus far, it’s been clean. Let’s hope it stays that way.
* Of course, I am the girl who laughed until she cried reading Terry Pratchett’s take on the Four Horseman in his Discworld books, so one could say that in general I’m not all that reverent toward Revelation.