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Science Fiction, Not Science Class

I love science fiction, except when I hate it. Maybe part of the reason is that the definition can be so broad that it includes everything speculative under the sun, even the kitchen sink. Especially when the kitchen sink is a symbiotic life form, or a mind-controlled robot, or maybe a hologram.

Science fiction (SF) might be about space travel, aliens and distant planets, or it might not. It might involve lots of technical language and fancy gear, or it might not. It might be choked with exposition trying to convince the reader that a made-up technology is viable.

But the way I write it, it isn’t.

I think the tendency of some authors to get carried away with explaining their technology is a big turnoff to readers who aren’t predisposed to SF in general from watching Star Trek as a kid, or playing with Planet of the Apes action figures. I’ve noticed that TV shows handle the SF element a lot more elegantly than many books. Instead of spending pages and pages belaboring physics and inventions and telling the entire darn history of the storyverse, they’ll just flash to a newspaper with the headline “Superheroes Exist!”, give us a montage of a few characters flying and knocking down walls, and trust that if the we hasn’t yet switched to something else in our Netflix queue, we are willing to suspend disbelief.

One of my favorite SF series is Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, which deals with the genetic engineering of fetuses. When parents begin selecting children who don’t need sleep, all sorts of personal and societal ramifications spiral out from that technology. Do I remember anything about the genetics? No. I remember the way the sleepless characters were ostracized and feared. I remember the way the science affected the characters, not the science itself.

My Mnevermind Trilogy is about a technology that allows people to have a recreational memory implanted, just as easily as they’d go get a tattoo or a tooth whitening. It sounds techy. But it’s not presented in pages and pages of technical explanation. It’s accessible. I just show people using it…kind of like the TV shows that show superpowers exist with shots of people causing tornadoes or playing catch with minivans.

So if you already enjoy my urban fantasy stories—which means you like speculative elements and you’re willing to suspend disbelief—I bet you’ll dig Mnevermind too. It’s not a bunch of dry tech. It’s a tender story about a guy, his dad, his failing family business, and his awkward love interest. But don’t just take my word for it. Read a sample chapter at JCP Books and see for yourself!

1 - Persistence of Memory
2 - Forget Me Not
3 - Life is Awesome


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2015 10:42 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic post and an excellent example of why I don't read the majority of Sci-Fi books out there despite my heavy Sci-Fi movie and tv love. SO MUCH WORLD-BUILDING and it bogs me down and I find it horribly boring.

You manage to strike the perfect balance and it's refreshing and enjoyable :D

Mar. 5th, 2015 11:25 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I'm pretty good at hiding exposition, maybe because I'm pretty conscious of it. A lot of times the first chapter gets rewritten a few times to weed it all out.

I've seen exposition dump in plenty of other places too, not just speculative fiction, but I think a scifi infodump is a sure way to turn off all but the most eager SF reader.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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