Speculative fiction is a broad umbrella category of narrative fiction referring to any fiction story that includes elements, settings and characters whose features are created out of imagination and speculation rather than based on attested reality and everyday life. That encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism.
The ministers put it quite plainly, Prince Damian was neither handsome nor charming, but the only hope left for the bankrupt kingdom of Caramorn was his marriage to Sirion Hilversun's lovely daughter, Helen.
Sirion Hilversun was the last of the enchanters in the magic lands at the edge of the world. Unknown to the ministers his powers were failing, and he was worried about his daughter's future. Marriage to a prince was, he thought, a secure, traditional answer.
Unfortunately, Helen loathed Damian on sight. So she borrowed an idea from an old story and agreed to the marriage on condition that Damian must first answer three questions set by her. In the interests of fairness she also offered to answer three set by him.
But she began to take the questions from an old riddle - a riddle that turned out to be a spell of terrible power.
Brian Michael Stableford (born 1948) is a British science fiction and non-fiction author. His earlier books were published as by Brian M. Stableford, but more recent ones have appeared under the name Brian Stableford.