Stepping into Science Fiction?

L. Marie asked the following question on my Ask an Author page:

Do you see yourself writing a science fiction series someday?

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An interesting question that I’m sure can lead to a debate because I’ve noticed that not everyone has the same definition of fantasy and science fiction.  That’s where my decision will lie, so let me explain that first.

Fantasy is a story that takes place in a non-reality setting where magic exists or technology is not at our current level.  There is more flexibility of natural laws and species walking around are not designated as aliens.  Science Fiction has a foot in reality with a focus on science and technology.  Magic is not involved or is explained in a more scientific method to make sure the laws of nature are upheld.  There’s more to this, but those are the basics to get me going.

I had a few science fiction stories on my plate, but I’ve dropped them into Windemere because I failed on the science part.  The outlines never happened because I was always scared that I’d explain something poorly and that would get everyone declaring that I’m a ‘science idiot’.  To be fair, I am and I tend to ignore laws of nature by using magic to get the scene I want.  I like that fantasy gives me more freedom of action and there’s no worry that I missed something that would unravel the entire world.  I know people hate the explanation of ‘a wizard did it’, but I do think it works if you establish magical rules and stick with them.  In science fiction, you can’t really do that without factoring in reality.

That being said, I have the gnomes who create technology that bring an occasional ‘sci-fi’ feel to the world.  So I can’t say I avoid the genre completely.  I guess I simply feel safer in a world where I make the rules and have, what I see as, ultimate flexibility.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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30 Responses to Stepping into Science Fiction?

  1. Charles Lominec says:

    Though, I do plan on venturing into sci-fi when I finish my fantasy trilogy (working on book 2), I’ve had some of the same thoughts you have regarding the two sub-genres. Fantasy allows more freedom for the imagination. Sci-fi is a bit more grounded.

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  2. Ultimately, it’s all semantics, but I prefer the term “Imaginative Fiction” as an umbrella for any fiction with fantastic elements. From my point of view, the difference between imaginative and “Speculative Fiction” is that in speculative fiction there is an attempt to explain the story elements outside of established reality with science: “I *speculate* that if this and this are scientifically accurate that *this* might happen…”

    For contrast, in imaginative fiction the statement could be: “This happened, how it works isn’t important, but here is how that affects the story…” 🙂

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    • Interesting. What about readers who demand to know how something works? I see it a lot these days where people get angry about a fictional event that doesn’t go into detail about the causes. One probably shouldn’t be focused solely on that mentality, but it can be shocking.

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      • I try to describe things from the character’s perspective, and usually the technicalities aren’t important. Only the affects. Here is an analogy: present day people use computers, watch TV and benefit from lifesaving medical care and drugs. How many of us can explain in any detail how they work? Only a small percentage compared to the large majority of people that use that same technology daily, and often quite well. It might as well be magic to them… Clarke’s Third Law. 🙂

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      • That analogy definitely clears it up. Need to remember it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Experience has taught me that I prefer very near science fiction. (as a writer. Anything goes as a reader.) I like to use our world and add something that might occur in the next year. I also believe elements can cross over frequently, and readers will dig it. e.g. The Force, the mind meld.

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  4. Dylan Hearn says:

    According to the chart, my two novels would be classed as soft science fiction. I work hard to ensure they adhere to the laws of science as far as possible but I then like to play around with possibilities. The key issue for me is plausibility. As long as the reader believes it could happen, I can include it. If the reader objects, which in turn takes them out of the story, then I’ve failed.
    The biggest mistake in science fiction is to try to explain everything. If detail is key to what’s happening (like in Andy Weir’s The Martian), then it’s fine to include it. In most cases you don’t need to and probably shouldn’t. Star Trek didn’t describe how teleportation worked, but it didn’t stop theoretical physicists working out a possible way to do it.

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  5. L. Marie says:

    Thanks for answering my question, Charles. Everything falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. But your great explanation helps us see the differences between science fiction and fantasy.

    I started a science fiction novel ten years ago, which seems extremely archaic now. I feel unqualified on the science end of things. Now I regret that I didn’t pursue physics like my physics teacher suggested that I do.

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  6. I suppose that it is best to stay with you are most comfortable with. I would have a problem with Sci-Fi as well as you are bound to piss someone off who sees the flaws in your science.

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  7. I read both fantasy and sci-fi, but I’m much pickier about the sci-fi I read. I try to avoid sci-fi that I know just can’t happen, but in fantasy I don’t have that problem; I accept that it can’t happen (though whatever laws there are need to make sense).

    But as a writer, I would be more inclined toward sci-fi. That’s a helpful chart. 🙂

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  8. My question is why anyone would want you to change your style and content, when they’re already enjoying your work?

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  9. M T McGuire says:

    If it helps, my way around the science idiot conundrum is to explain the technology with a science that even scientists have difficulty understanding: quantuum physics. Although to be honest, mine’s just a fantasy story with futuristic technology in it. I market the series as both. 😉

    Cheers

    MTM

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