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Author Topic: How DARE you put science in your Science Fiction Novels?  (Read 2458 times)

Offline napoleonblackwellty

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I write SciFi and Space Operas. Over the past several months, I've been criticized by certain readers for including science in my science fiction works. I believe this stems from the fact that there are far too many people calling their work scifi these days when in fact they include almost no science in their stories, or because the story occurs in outer space. Some believe that simply throwing in an occasional buzzword or initialism like FTL, makes their work a scifi story. I'm not saying that I need hard science. It can be entirely fabricated by the author, but it helps if at least some of it has its roots in physics or mathematics. Gene Roddenbury popularized science fantasy and nobody complained because it sounded like it was real. I can't begin to count the number of authors who use transporters and tachyon particle emitters and such. And that's fine. What I object to most is the people writing literary fiction that occurs in space and calling it scifi. The sci in scifi stands for science. If you don't devote at least a small portion of the text to explaining the science, even if it's entirely bogus, it isn't a scifi work. If you have spaceships in a scifi, I want some description. I want to know the drive mechanism. I want to know what you're using for fuel and how you replenish it. I want to know what weaponry you carry unless you're on a scientific mission, operating a freight transport, or anything where you won't be expected to defend yourself.

I grew up reading scifi from the fifties and sixties. We didn't have kindles, so I would go to the Salvation Army thrift store, Goodwill thrift, yard sales, or any of the numerous places where I could buy used pocket novels for a dime to fifty cents. The local library had a little scifi, but not a great selection and I went through that quickly. Now that I'm writing, I write stories like the ones I enjoyed when I was young. I make no pretense about it. They are space operas, or space westerns if you prefer. They are light reading. I want them to be fun reads. I'm not searching for the meaning of life, or God. Good will, in the end, always triumph over evil. The hero or heroine is always larger than life. Think Clint Eastwood in any of his spaghetti westerns. There is no explicit sex, and little romance. The characters should be three dimensional, but don't all have to be excessively flawed.

I know that there's been a lot of discussion about the definition of space opera and scifi in the forum, so I'd like to propose a new genre for all those former romance and literary fiction authors who are now using space for their stage. Instead of calling it scifi simply because it occurs in space, prefix it with extraterrestrial, or simply ET (i.e. ET Romance, or ET Drama. That way you won't be criticized for not having any science in your scifi story, and we authors who embrace science will stop getting criticized for including it, however much or little, in our stories. I know that Amazon doesn't have an ET category, at least not yet, so you can include that at the bottom of your product description or synopsis.


 

Offline graham.d

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How DARE you put science in your Science Fiction Novels?
« Reply #1 on: 31/08/2010 16:45:54 »
I agree with much of what you say. I can suspend belief with the rest of them. I don't mind the talking trees in Lord of the Rings for example, or even stories of ghosts and vampires. However I did find exception when Star Trek had a geostationary orbit over the north pole or, as in a current semi-scifi tv series where they have a moon pool in a submarine at 2000 feet down without apparent pressurisation above it. Call me a nerd, but if it is supposed to be right then it should be right.

Best of luck with your writing.
 

Offline Geezer

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How DARE you put science in your Science Fiction Novels?
« Reply #2 on: 01/09/2010 03:06:15 »
I agree. Asimov and Clarke are great because so much of their work is scientifically sound. The other extreme might be Red Planet!

However, I suspect you might be up the proverbial gum tree in proposing a new genre. That might work if you can persuade a lot more members of the public to actually study science, but I'm not too optimistic about that prospect.
 

Offline daveshorts

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How DARE you put science in your Science Fiction Novels?
« Reply #3 on: 20/09/2010 13:59:22 »
I don't mind writers changing science if it is for a good reason - if nothing else it is interesting to think what would happen if you could go faster than the speed of light, if genetics worked differently or whatever. But they should be consistent and not do it for trivial plot reasons, that is just lazy
 

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How DARE you put science in your Science Fiction Novels?
« Reply #3 on: 20/09/2010 13:59:22 »

 

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