I’m no brain surgeon so when the subject of technology and physics terminology and logic popped up on one of my Facebook writing groups yesterday I read a lot of the posts and commented where I could. I was happily surprised that there are a few other authors like me who don’t go into the hard science perspective, preferring to focus on relationships (sometimes I can’t help it, my first publisher was a romance publisher) in a futuristic society complete with aliens (think Katy Perry’s song ET here).
I suddenly realized that there are two different camps in sci-fi: hard science and what some wonderful author called “low-tech” sci-fi (if you are her or know her, please connect us so I can proceed to give her credit due) which I think fits my level of sci-in-the-fi. In any case, I love the term. Many of those authors on the group give effort to trying to keep the science and physics correct which I love them for; I posted that while I love reading hard science, I’m not qualified to write it. But I do love semi-military sci-fi just because I dig giant alien killing or scorching big guns. So, what’s a low-tech science fiction author to do?
Well, I think that doing/showing/exposition should be done…simply. What I do is try to describe the ship, what I would like to see in/on it. Now, it’s a bit difficult for me to picture highly developed aliens who can travel across galaxies not having the wherewithal to include some nice, luxurious accouterments. That is unless they closely resemble the alien in Alien the movie, in which case their body structure is so different from us that hanging upside down is a way of sleeping rather than a spine stretch. Oh, and also if the character or characters are supplied ships via their military or are self-employed and dare I say it poor. Now that it is possible Mars had water and possibly life forms and similar environment to our own, it might not be so far-fetched that they might have similar physical and mental evolutions. Again, cue the ET song. My only hope is they don’t look like what one reporter called the “Spoonhead” aliens in Close Encounters.
So I like to think that my readers might think like I do: girls can carry big guns and have alien boyfriends and all aliens are not rich in the traditional sense. They have to work too otherwise a relationship is going to suffer in some way or another. And just because the aliens do not believe in or have any type of religious structures, they can understand the concept of “giving” whether it’s selfless or not, and can have a sense of fairness and justice in one way or another. Just maybe not our sense of justice.
Take Alekzander Brede for example. He cares absolutely nothing at all for what humans, even in their dystopian society, consider priceless: gold. What matters to him is physical power instead. On the other hand, Elektra Tate who worships him would love to have anything that could pass as money just to eat. He makes his own justice and has no compunction against killing anyone for any reason most of the time just because he can. His size and physical strength dwarfing humans makes no one question him and pretty much everyone to avoid him to remain alive. Only Elektra is fairly safe and I mean fairly safe.
But again, I don’t go too much into the hard science factors. And, if I do, like I posted, I use what little science I’m familiar with–not in the Brede Chronicles–but in other series where I’ve used DNA evidence in unusual ways. But I try to simplify it so it’s not too daunting and is interesting to a reader. Like I posted it’s all about relationships. Why is that? Because what good is a book or story if humans can’t relate to it? And at this point, aliens are all conjecture.
I think if you’re writing commercial sci-fi you’ve got to make it comfortable and understandable to your audience. If you introduce something too strange or even just difficult to think about, you’re going to lose readers. And Lord knows that one of the last things an author wants.
That’s the lecture for tonight.
Good Night my little Imperfections!